What is a Draw Bench?
A draw bench is a tool used in metal and wire working. The term can be used to describe a large, heavy-duty machine used in factory settings, as well as a personal bench used in small or home shops. The main use of the draw bench is for cold work on metal and wires. Instead of using heat, the machine uses pressure to alter flat metal sheets to form shapes. These are often finished by the operator, who saws the pieces into the desired measurements or sands any remaining burrs away for a clean edge.
Used in the process known as drawing, the draw bench allows a metal worker to stretch a piece of metal, wire, bar or tube. It can turn flat metal pieces into rounded tubes, pieces with folded angles or other needed shapes. Each draw bench features a different ratio for the metal working, and can reduce the area of the metal by as much as 20-50%.
The draw bench is used by pushing the piece of metal or wire through a series of dies mounted on a drawplate. Done at room temperature, this process allows the metal worker to alter both the flow and stretch of the metal. A motor is used to work the piece through a groove in the draw bench. From this indented groove, the metal, wire or tube is pushed through the die, straightening the edges and narrowing the piece.
The bench-shaped table can allow a worker to carve metal in just seconds. Though it is often used at room temperature, it can also be used in a controlled environment of higher temperatures when working with larger or less supple metals. One end of the bench usually features a roller used to ease the piece through mechanically. A chain, or hook-like features called draw or drawer tongs, are located at the other end of the machine and pull the metal across the drawplate.
Most often seen in home shops, the personal bench is about waist high or can be a separate tool that you clamp to an available table top. Personal benches are often sold with a pair of drawer tongs and a draw plate, but these items may need to be purchased separately. Home benches can weigh upwards of 200 lbs (90.7 kg) and will have a maximum diameter of wire they can work. Industrial machines, in contrast, are much heavier and can process thicker diameters of raw metal.
I saw an art teacher I had in college do a demonstration on a draw bench where he managed to bend a long tube of metal into an animal that looked a lot like a giraffe. It was kind of similar to a balloon animal.
It was really impressive, something I realized only after I started using the draw bench myself. This is a tricky piece of machinery. You expect it to be pretty self explanatory and then you end up with a mangled metal tube that is unusable. That teacher of mine had incredible skill built up through years of practice.
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