Strange things can make a Toolmonger’s heart beat faster, and one of them is high-quality aluminum work: fine metal carefully sheared, bent, and welded with the precision of a Swiss watch. One of the most common places you’ll find such work is on custom radiators, which require some really superb work from skilled fabricators. Beaders like the one above are one of their tools of the trade, used to put a raised bump a short distance in from the edge of a tube to aid hose retention. With some cooling and induction systems running pressures upwards of 30psi, this bead is a critical feature, preventing hose clamps from sliding right off even if they’re properly tensioned.
If you’re working on a garage project that uses fluid-carrying aluminum tube frequently, you can probably justify the rather steep $150 price tag Graham Tool, Inc. slaps onto their beader. Fabricators and professionals should have an easier time with the sticker.
Large Tube Beading Tool [Graham Tool, Inc.]
Laser cutters and computer-aided machining got together in a shed a while back, and the net result is a neat new technology for cutting profiles in tubing of all dimensions. Among many other uses, high-budget race teams use these machines for cutting their tube frame members. They send the company a CAD rendering of the frame, and shipping containers full of pre-made tubes show up on their doorstep. Stick together, weld, and the job’s a good one.
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