Turn a cheap swager into a professional metal-shaping machine
Upgrade and power your swager.
If you’re going to fabricate repair patches or panels, there’s one tool you’ll find invaluable: the swager. You might see it called a ‘jenny’ or a ‘bead roller’ on Youtube videos originating in America. They were once the preserve of professionals and rich DIY enthusiasts. Cheap imports from the Far East, however, mean that decent machines are now within the grasp of the rest of us.
If you look around your car’s body, you’ll find strengthening ribs pressed into things like the inner sills, the bulkhead and the battery box. There are also likely to be depressions pressed into the floorpans to add rigidity and, of course, swage lines that strengthen and enhance the bodywork. These would probably have been stamped into the panels at the factory. A swager with will allow you to reproduce all these profiles – and many more besides – at home.
The cheapest type of swager capable of handling mild steel plate is available as a kit on a stand from around £160. It will come with some pairs of dies that’ll allow you quickly and easily shape sheet metal in a number of useful ways. There’s nothing drastically wrong with the functionality of these swagers straight out of the box. It doesn’t take much work, however, to elevate them to professional-quality machines that are more capable and easier to use. This feature will show you how. In the next issue, we’ll demonstrate what you can do with your swager, whether you’ve carried out our modifications or not.
We’ve started with the cheapest tool available, which is identical to many others on the market. We’ll stiffen it up to prevent flex and increase accuracy. Then, we’ll add some accessories to make it more useable. Finally, we’ll motorise it. This is not because we’re lazy, but because it’s so much easier to guide metal through the swager if you’re not turning the handle at the same time. We’ve used scrap metal and cheap bits from the internet to upgrade our swager. You can pick and choose which upgrades to make.