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FAQ Regarding The English Wheel

Steel fabrication requires a wide range of tools, one of the most popular of which is the English wheel. If you’re a beginning steel fabricator, you may not yet understand the usefulness of this item. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked English Wheel questions.

What Is An English Wheel And When Should I Use It?

An English wheel is a metal fabricating tool that looks something like a large “C.” The top tip of the “C” is the die, which is what cuts the sheets of metal. The English wheel is used to bend, groove, and shape sheets of metal of all shapes and sizes. This makes it useful for crafting a wide range of metal projects, including these popular projects:

  • Gas tanks
  • Nose bowl
  • Construction panels
  • Sculptures

It’s somewhat similar to a planishing hammer, and choosing between the two items requires understanding what type of project benefits from their use. Planishing hammers are typically designed for small metal projects, such as pans or patch panels, because they leave behind a “hammered” impression in the metal.

By contrast, the English wheel is more useful for larger projects, such as quarter panels, because it creates a finer, chrome-like finish. While you could use either item for large or small items, the English wheel generally lacks the precision of the planishing hammer, which by contrasts creates too rough of a surface for larger projects.

How Do You Use An English Wheel?

While delving into every aspect of English wheel design would require a full manual and years of experience, a few tips can help you understand how it works. First, you must install the die (i.e. the etching point) into the tip at the top of the “C” frame. Then, you place your sheet of metal on the wheel, and carefully adjust the height of the die (with the die-height wheel located at the base of the arm) so that it touches the metal.

Then, you turn on the machine: this forces the die into cutting action. Now, press the metal sheet firmly across the wheel with your hands. The wheel will help pull and position the metal, but you need to move the metal manually with your hands to ensure you get the best grooves and cuts. Wear gloves to ensure you don’t cut your hands on the metal sheet.

Now that you better understand this unique item, you can start training to use it right away. It will take some practice to get used to its unique controls and properties, but you’ll be glad that you did when you’re cranking out beautiful projects with ease.