Bead Roller Questions to Ask
When selecting a bead roller, you'll want to know the following:
- The thickness of metal it can form;
- The depth of the throat;
- Whether or not it's motorized;
- The strength of its construction so it doesn't flex;
- The ability to upgrade and expand its capabilities with items like a guide fence or forming dies.
Eastwood Bead Roller Options
We offer four styles of bead rollers for both DIY auto workers and full-time mechanics. Three of them are powered by a hand crank and one is motorized. A motorized bead roller is nice because it allows you to roll beads by yourself and easily control the speed with the foot pedal. All of our bead rollers will form 18 gauge steel and 16 gauge aluminum, which should accommodate all your sheet metal needs if you're working on a car or truck.
The throat depth is 8, 17 and 27 inches for the hand-crank bead rollers and 24 inches for the motorized bead roller. The rule for rollers is that you can form pieces that are twice as wide as the throat depth. This means you can form down the center of a piece that is 16, 34, 54 and 48 inches wide, respectively. Being able to form a wide area is nice for large floor pans, trunk floors, bomber seats and especially pickup truck bed floors and tailgates. You can still form panels with a smaller bead roller, but it means making the panels in multiple pieces and then welding them together. This typically comprises the quality of the work because there is a chance for warpage when welding them together. It also creates the need to grind the weld beads, which adds time to your project.
The 8-inch Elite Heavy Duty Bead Roller comes with both offset and 3/8-inch bead rolling dies, allowing you to form the two most popular shapes and make small floor pans. The Eastwood Metal bead roller comes with four sets of mandrels, including three flanging mandrels with offset dies and three bead forming mandrels. This is a great combination for fabricating floor pans and wheel tubs. The 27-inch Elite Bead Roller comes with the popular offset dies. These three machines all have a standard 22mm shaft size, so you can add more dies, like forming dies, which really expands the abilities of your bead roller. It's also nice because if you already own a bead roller with the standard 22mm shaft and you're looking to upgrade, you can use your existing dies, which will save you money. And remember, you can adjust the distance and depth of the offset dies, giving you many different appearances and functions.
The motorized bead roller comes with the ½-inch bead roller die set. It uses a ¾-inch shaft and numerous dies are available like spoiler dies, step-flange dies and other sizes of bead rolling dies. The roller comes with a stand and foot pedal, which lets you hold and form large sheet metal piece with both hands.
So Which Bead Roller is Best for You?
If you're looking to do small projects, the small 8-inch roller is great for you. Because you can form into the center of a 16-inch panel, you are still able to form floor pans for many cars. The size also allows you to operate it by yourself. But don't let the size fool you - just because it's small doesn't mean it's a lesser quality. It is part of our Elite line of products that brings industrial styling to smaller DIY tools. It comes with two sets of dies: the popular offset dies as well as 3/8-inch bead rolling dies. The latter set is nice for rolling beads in floor pans, which is a common appearance for this part that also adds strength.
The Eastwood Metal bead roller has a 17-inch throat will allow you to form up to 34-inch wide pieces, which will cover most floor pans and sheet metal fab on a car. Plus, you can add a guide fence for those long runs. It uses a standard shaft size, allowing you to upgrade and use forming dies, again expanding the capabilities of the bead roller. Both the 8-inch and Eastwood Metal bead roller can comfortably sit on a workbench as you form metal.
The Elite 27-inch bead roller is currently the largest hand crank bead roller on the market with its deep throat. The thick metal framework and fabricated design prevent flexing, giving you the strength and rigidity to roll consistent beads and flanges of the same depth. If you're looking for a quality hand-crank bead roller that's going to last, and will probably be the only one you'll ever need, this is the one for you. Or, if you're looking to upgrade, this is also a great option because you can attach your existing die set that uses the standard 22mm shaft.
Another advantage of this bead roller is that the large throat size means you can fabricate metal as large as a truck bed floor in a single piece, which means you don't have to weld pieces together, meaning your finished work will be much cleaner with no warpage or need to grind welds. Using this machine will give you the ability to add items like a guide fence for the most accuracy on those long straight runs or forming dies to further expand your abilities. It should be noted that, due to its size, you may need an assistant to help hold the sheet metal on larger projects.
Finally, if you want a motorized bead roller with the option to add more dies like different sizes of bead roller dies and flanging dies, you should definitely consider the motorized bead roller from Eastwood. The 24-inch throat will allow you to form large sheets and it's easy to operate by yourself with the variable speed control foot pedal.
Bead Roller Summary
So to summarize, if you want to try bead rolling without much investment, or you only have small projects, the Elite 8-inch bead roller is a great option. And remember, it uses a standard shaft size and comes with both offset and bead rolling dies.
The Eastwood Metal bead roller will allow you to do most work on a car in a single piece, other than the larger panels, like a trunk floor. It has a standard shaft and comes with six sets of bead rolling and flanging dies. If you want to upgrade in the future to the large Elite bead roller, you'll be able to use the dies that come with this machine.
If you're looking to invest in yourself and want one bead roller that you won't need to upgrade, we highly recommend the 27-inch Elite bead roller. The heavy-duty design gives you the quality and precision you want. It's also a great machine if you're looking to upgrade from your current unit because it has the standard 22mm shaft. Because of its size, you should be able to form every panel you need on a car or truck in a single piece, giving you the most professional, finished appearance in the least amount of time.
Eastwood also offers forming dies that fit all three of these hand-crank units, further improving the capabilities of the machines and allowing you to fabricate all kinds of other shapes and parts for your car or truck. If you're in the market for a motorized bead roller, you should consider our unit that has a variable speed-control foot pedal. The pedal operates in forward and reverse, allowing you to fabricate metal yourself while giving you the control you need to move around corners and shapes. The 24-inch throat allows you to form most panels on a car or truck. It comes with the standard ½-inch bead rolling dies and other dies are available at Eastwood.
Quality Bead Rolling from Eastwood
We hope this buyer's guide has helped you decide which bead roller is best for you. Eastwood has been providing quality equipment and better service since 1978 for auto restoration enthusiasts who need to do the job right. Call us today to learn more!