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New Shop Tool - The Rogue Engineering Tube Bender

A Build-It-Yourself Bender Becomes Our New Favorite Tool
Written By: 
John Arens

2013.vendor.rogue-engineering-tube-bender.alpha-bender.studio.JPGMany off-roaders like to modify their machines or even fabricate their own parts.  There’s something very satisfying about saying “I built it myself”, and with the right tools in your shop much can be accomplished.  Whether you’re a weekend hobbyist or a professional fabricator though, sooner or later you’ll need bent tubing for your project and the right tool for making smooth, strong, consistent bends is a tubing bender.  When you need one nothing else will do.  Rogue Fabrication has your next favorite tool.  

Bender Buying Basic

I’ve made over 1500 ATV frames, and as many A-arms, swingarms, and other chassis members in my own shop.  Nearly every completed part required several pieces of bent tubing and it didn’t take long to learn about bending tools.  If you’ve never priced a bender for your shop, even the bare-bones, hand operated models are expensive and after buying one you’ll quickly have as much or more money into bending dies than the bender itself.  It’s easy to spend over $1000 on a bender and a couple sets of dies, and if you want to pick up a used CNC bender at an auction you’ll start at $10k for an old one and then be buying tooling for it as well.  Most benders aren’t cheap!  Rogue Fabrication’s bender is both a high-quality and economical alternative.  2013.vendor.rogue-engineering-tube-bender.kit.JPG

Like many companies, Rogue Engineering was founded based on need and enthusiasm.  Owner Joe Gambino grew up with a love of working on off-road vehicles of every size and variety.  If it had a seat and an engine he undoubtedly worked on one, always fixing and modifying to make it better.  Joe also was a great student however, eventually earning his degree in mechanical engineering and he was then able to apply his experience and design skills to fabrication challenges.  He quickly discovered a need for some affordable, specialized tools but he also began developing solutions.  Today Rogue produces drill press reduction sets, wheel center kits, bending dies, and tubing benders.

The Rogue Alpha Tubing Bender

Rogue’s ALPHA TUBING BENDER is different from other tubing benders in three main ways.  First, the tubing being bent is swept upwards.  This is a great feature because the only limiting factor is the height of your ceiling.  Anyone who has ever used another bender knows they have an annoying habit of sweeping everything off your welding or work table as the bends are made.  The second major difference is you assemble the Rogue Bender yourself, but we guarantee they make it very easy for you.  There’s really only one way to screw it up.  Finally, the Rogue Fab bender is much more cost effective.  When assembled, the Rogue Alpha Bender is capable of producing bends more than 180 degrees from several interchangeable die sets.  Assembling the Rogue Alpha Tubing Bender is about as easy as it gets.  2013.vendor.rogue-engineering-tube-bender.tab-and-slot.JPG

If you’re reasonably skilled with your welder you should have no problem assembling the Rogue Fabrication tubing bender.  The kit comes shipped in a heavy box sure to give your UPS person back spasms, but it is well packed and includes an EXCELLENT set of instructions.  Rogue has done all the hard work for you, and all the parts are laser cut for precision, and there were no burrs or sharp edges on any part.  Great job!  Thankfully, the kit was designed using a “tab & slot” type of construction.  Remember those plastic models you built as a kid?  That was tab and slot also, but rather than glue you’ll be welding this kit together.  You can’t miss really, and the only tools you’ll need are a square, a few clamps, and your welder.

Bender Assembly – Easy and Quick

The Alpha Tubing bender instructions carry you through each stage of assembly and there are pictures at each critical step as well.  One of the most important steps is also one of the first.  It’s vital to make sure you have the large slot in the base plate oriented in the right direction before you weld the base plate and framework together.  A picture in the instructions calls this out clearly.  Our advice for assembling the Rogue tubing bender is the same with any welding project.  Clamp everything to a flat surface plate at each step in the process, use your square, clamping blocks, and plenty of clamps to hold everything tightly, and double check with measurements from side to side.  Tack weld the assembly as you progress, and when you’re sure of one step then finish weld and move on to the next step.  Assembling your tubing bender is easy and intuitive, and the tab and slot assembly means it’s self fixturing.  If you’re talented enough to fabricate parts later you can handle this project as well.  It was fun to put this kit together!  2013.vendor.rogue-engineering-tube-bender.square.JPG

We welded our Rogue bender kit using our Lincoln Powerwave 255C MIG welder.  Our settings were 180 inches per minute of .035 wire at 17.6 amps.  We also did some of our exposed finish welds with our Miller 250 TIG machine set to 155 amps just to make it look pretty, but the kit could be stick welded as well.  It all comes down to your skills with the welder.  As always though, dial in your welder settings on a few scrap pieces of the same thickness before working on the final product. 

One trick we use for MIG welding to eliminate any splatter is to lightly coat the parts with no-stick cooking spray first.  No doubt your welding supply store sells some expensive anti-spatter miracle spray, but the non-lethal variety is vegetable based oil, just like the cooking spray from Wal-Mart which is also a lot less expensive.  We figured this out a few years back after the dog was continually caught licking the weld fixtures. (No kidding, and Rascal is still alive!)  

Assembling our kit from individual pieces to final product took about two hours.  We probably could have welded it together quicker but we took time for lots of clamping and cross checks with a square and in the end we’ve got an excellent quality tool.  Now it’s off to the powdercoat shop.

Rogue Alpha Tubing Bender Specs  

  • 90 degree bends on 4.5” CLR dies in ONE ram cycle
  • Support for dies from 3.50" CLR up to 6.00" CLR
  • One Die set of your choice
  • Includes Degree wheel angle indicators, bases, tube clamp blocks, pins, and hardware
  • Printed instructions
  • Rogue Fabrication Technical support with material selection properties and bending lessons.
  • Made in U.S.A
  • Kit includes everything you need to produce bent tubes EXCEPT air/hydraulic cylinder ($72-90 at Harbor Freight - PN 94562)
  • Price:  $595 with any 3.5 or 4.5 CLR die set

Rogue Bender Bottom Line2013.vendor.rogue-engineering-tube-bender.base-plate-weld.JPG

We really like this tool!  It’s well designed, the parts are well made, and Rogue did a fantastic job of putting this kit together.  It’s excellent for prototype or short production work.  Rogue Fab also has an incredibly helpful website with easy to read charts and advice on material specifications and properties to help you choose the right material for the job.  It’s got the basics for consistent tube bending, and it even gives common definitions and calculations.  It’s an excellent, easy to understand resource for tube bending.  Consider it a real-world engineering primer and you won’t get it anywhere else.

We’ve used all types of benders through the years from simple hand tools to $200K fully automated machines.  The Rogue Fabrication Alpha Tube Bender has the basics of bigger machines but in a built to last, affordable package.  It’s easy to use, it makes consistent, smooth bends, and it expands the projects you can do in your shop.  It’s the right tool for the job and we love it! 

www.roguefab.com   info:  joe@roguefab.com    phone:  503-389-5413

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