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Bead roller
Bead roller

I bought a standard issue Bead roller from Stakesy's. It had a 12 inch handle, and using it was a real hassle. Trying to control the feed of the work with one hand while turning the handle with the other was no go for me. It had to be motorised. I found a nice 3-phase motor/gearbox halfway up the country in Preston, but as luck would have it I was just about to travel to Edinburgh for the weekend. Monday saw me breaking my journey, and for the rest of my trip home I was lugging around the heaviest shopping bag I had ever experienced.

After some strengthening of the frame and roller axles, I fitted bicycle chain wheels between the output shaft and the roller shaft, and set up a Hitachi inverter to work with the same foot pedal I made to control the output of my TIG welder.

I can get the speed of the roller down to a creep, and maximum speed is about 3 sec per revolution, which is quite enough for a bead roller.

A general view of my motorised bead roller. The roller I have mounted are a pair of cutters that I made from circles of gauge plate. I put a light knurl on so the cutters would not slip on the material. It will slice 1/16th ally with ease.
The black rollers came from the supplier. The red rollers are plastic or rubber skateboard wheels, and these are ideal for as the straight man for some of the sharper rollers for forming delicate and gentle beads.
The control panel. Speed and on/off can be controlled by the footpedal I built to use with my Tig welder. A pedal is almost a necessity for the bead roller. You really need both hands to be available to control your stock as it tries to twitch out of the rollers.
The bike chain is ideal for this - slow, sloppy, certain. I just cannibalised some old sprockets from a chain set and a spool, but the motor and box gives such a usable speed range there is no need for clever gearing.
The mechanism for adjusting the top roller in or out. I wanted this to be positive and simple to use, as I would be readjusting this frequently.
One extra bracket to hold the pressure screw. It is easy to repeat a roll while tightening the screw down bit by bit.
I welded the original flat frame onto some short lengths of 6"x6" angle steel to form a base, and I added a little light framing, mainly to make it easier to handle. The motor mounts on the vertical of the angle.

Page updated on 17th June 2018