Bending music wire? - RCCanada - Canada Radio Controlled Hobby Forum
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Old 01-08-2006, 08:15 PM   #1
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Bending music wire?

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What is the proper way to bend this stuff, with or without heat? My plans say to heat but dont get it red . My knifemaker neighbor explained tempering to me but others have said its better cold in a bender.
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Old 01-08-2006, 08:50 PM   #2
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There are different benders out there but which one you use depends on how thick the wire is.

I have never been successful at heating it before I bend it.

I have three different benders that I haven't used yet.

Two of them were bought in Toledo and one from either Lee Valley Tools or Busy Bee (not sure which).

To date I have used a hammer and a vice.
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Old 01-08-2006, 09:10 PM   #3
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Just be careful about the radius of the bend; seems to me the radius should be 3x the diameter of the wire (?). If you bend any tighter than that, it can and will snap, either during the bend, or on a heavy landing.

I never build anything that requires large-diameter wire, so this may be useless advice...
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Old 01-08-2006, 09:31 PM   #4
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I've used heat, to dull red, but do not cool with water it will become brittle and snap. let air cool
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Old 01-08-2006, 09:54 PM   #5
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I have bended piano wire before using wise, pliers and my hands, they worked for me, and yes be careful with diameter of wire you want to bend, since few in early bands have snapped on me....

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Old 01-08-2006, 11:16 PM   #6
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I have bent wire up to 3/8 with a proper tool that I bought years ago and have used so many times I dont screw up very often these days.
Proper benders have a radius built in to the die part of the tool which drags the wire to a certain extent to form the curve and you must allow a little extra length of wire for this operation.
Dont have the tool?
Clamp another piece of wire lengthwise in a vise with the wire you want to bend vertical in the vise and clamped against the horizontal piece,then without heat tap it with a hammer to the correct angle.
Dont use too sharp a radius......good music wire is tempered and will fracture.
Heat will change the temper and is best avoided,IMO.
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Old 01-09-2006, 04:08 AM   #7
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I always bend music wire cold. I have never had any problem bending it but I have never bent any wire above 5/32". I have used the vice and hammer method and now use a K&S wire bender.
Personally I wouldn't want to change the temper in the wire. That is why we pay the money for music wire in the first place.
The only drawback to music wire is you can't rebend it if you made a mistake. It usually snaps unless it was a very shallow bend. So measure twice and bend once.


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Old 01-09-2006, 06:58 AM   #8
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I bend up to 3/16" diam. cold in my vice. Since 99% of my bending is on the right side of vice, I rounded off the forward edge of the jaw with a file to reduce stress. Every bend is the same; clamp the shorter end of the wire in the vice, pull the wire toward your belly with your left hand, hit near the bend with a plastic hammer.
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Old 01-09-2006, 08:06 AM   #9
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I guess I do a combo job. I usually clamp the wire in my vise and apply pressure to bend it with a free hand. With my other hand I apply heat to the area that is being bent at the radius with a propane torch. Surprisingly, you can control the radius of the bend by moving the location of the heat.

I never get it red, but I keep applying heat until I feel it start to give. I just keep feathering the heat to the bend until I get what I want. Works for me. Never had a failure.
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Old 01-10-2006, 11:02 PM   #10
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Alright, here's some info I've stolen from my current employer. I fix overhead doors. Now, previous to this experience, I always thought music wire had to be formed cold. Now, with my current experience, I will definitely try heating it up, Probably to super bright red next time.

When we bend up the ends for a door spring (we're talking big doors, where each spring is taking up to 800 lbs of load) the guy's ALWAYS heat em up to bright red. And these aren't small diameter. They can approach 1/2 inch. Often when one of the springs reaches it's "expiry date" (they have "cycle ratings") and breaks, the other spring will still haul the door up and down.

I think the key to the heating is don't accelerate cooling.

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