By Chris Wantuck
In our arsenal of shop tools, gadgets and jigs, there is sometimes a tool that we seldom use. But when we do use it in one of our projects, we quickly realize that this is precisely why we purchased it and it proves to be worth every penny. The Duo-Mite 55000 Metal Bender Tool (Photo 1) manufactured by Oxford General Industries (OGI) is such a tool.
Photo 1 — Overall picture of the Duo-Mite Bender with attachments. This bender kit was purchased in 1995 and the manufacturer now offers three models with a slightly different variety of attachments than was available when we bought our machine.
Located in South Western Connecticut, OGI is a multi-faceted, precision manufacturer offering CNC and other machining services. Along with their services, they offer three versions of metal benders, the 50000, 54000, and 55000. All three models start with the basic vise jig and add various attachments and gauge pieces for different applications or trades (Photo 2).
Photo 2 — A closer view of the Duo-Mite Bender. The main clamping vise holds the round or flat stock while the pivoting arm will force the metal stock around round dowels for gentle bends or square edges for more sharp bends. Shown are the round dowels, pin jigs, the long rod used for a length gauge when making duplicate pieces, and the edge bender used for forming curves on flat stock.
They are sturdy for fabricating automotive and heavy hardware brackets, yet can be gentle enough for artisans for use in the jewelry trade. The benders can handle metals up to 5/16" round or 1/8" X 3/4" wide flat stock.
As a review project for the Duo-Mite 55000, we wanted to design and fabricate mounting brackets for a heater to be attached to a car's firewall. Our firewall had already been removed from the car body during our ground-up restoration process, simplifying this project. The heater has a stamped metal shell which will house a heater core with an electric fan behind it.
We supported the metal shell with wood blocks to allow us to determine exact location, overall fit and verify that there was no obstruction with other firewall mounted hardware. It was important that we avoid making any new holes in the firewall, so existing mounting points had to be considered in the bracket design (Photos 3 & 4).
Photo 3 —The firewall is laid flat on the table and the heater's metal shell is temporarily supported by wood blocks to determine the best fit and to show that there was no obstruction with other firewall hardware.
Photo 4 — Side view of the project on wood blocks with the first bracket temporarily held with a C clamp. This allows further adjustments and measurements before making the more complicated edge bent bracket.