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thoughts and facts about the Hossfeld bender

metalmagpie

Titanium
Joined
May 22, 2006
Location
Seattle
I bought a die from Hossfeld the other day. I didn't talk to Rollie on the phone the way I normally do. The guy I spoke with said he normally works at the foundry where Hossfeld gets their parts poured, but since that foundry bought Hossfeld in 2016, he has been doing 2 days a week at Hossfeld itself.

So why did the business get sold in 2016? Before that for several generations Hossfeld was owned by a single family. At the end, the only one left was a woman who was an attorney and whose heart was really not in the business. Also, a lot of the machines Hossfeld used were very worn so the physical plant needed a substantial influx of capital, something the lawyer lady really didn't want to do. Hossfeld had always done business with the foundry also in the small town of Winona. The foundry poured their parts and did the heat treating. (More on the heat treating later.) I'm guessing that Hossfeld was one of their major accounts, and possibly without their business the foundry itself might have gone under. Anyway, a deal happened and the foundry company bought Hossfeld. Most of the employees stayed on. A lot of their employees have over 20 years on the job. Can't be easy to find a good paying steady manufacturing job like that in a tiny town in Minnesota.

So I asked him (remember, he worked at the foundry) about the heat treating. He said that all of the steel parts of a Hossfeld - the frames and the pins - are all heat treated for strength. I had read about guys who built Hossfeld clones and to a man they all said they just used mild steel and didn't heat treat anything. Anyway, I think he also said many of the cast iron dies are also heat treated. I'll let one of the guys who pour iron all the time talk about that. I don't know if it gets stronger, or just gets tougher, or what. I expect that the guys at American Bender also heat treat the items they sell. Would I make my own tooling if I had a quick need? Sure. But overall I'm going to try to stick with the guys who have been making these dies for over 100 years now.

The little die I needed would have easily fit into a small flat rate box. Certainly into a medium. I asked him can they ship USPS flat rate. He said where they live it's an hour each way to the post office, and the labor cost of sending someone that way was so high the company decided they would only ship UPS. So you have to really want Hossfeld stuff because the shipping cost will make your eyes water. Of course, the part I wanted was the last thing in a set. What is it about wanting to own the complete set, anyway? Strange human behavior. Ten things in a set. You can sell a complete set for $100. But if you only have nine of the ten items, can you get $90? You can not. More like $30. Go figger.

OK. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. You want to know about *using* a Hossfeld bender? I'm not the guy to write about that.

metalmagpie
 
The only issue with the story is Winona MN isn't a tiny village somewhere. They have a population of over 25,000 people with a bunch of industry including the corporate headquarters for Fastenal and Watkins Remedies. I've always assumed the foundry is Badger?
 
Interesting stuff. I knew the pins and frames were heat treated. I don't think it's an issue until you start pushing the limits of the machine. If you compare a Hossfeld to a JD2 bender of equivalent capacity, everything on the JD2 is larger/thicker except the center pin is 1" on both. I don't think anything on the JD2 machines is heat treated, except the pins might be something like 4140 PH.

I'm with you, @metalmagpie, I would rather buy the stuff from the people that have been making it forever than try to reverse engineer it myself. If you value your time at all, even though the Hossfeld stuff and shipping it is expensive, it's still a good value to buy vs. build.
 
1.875" OD DOM fence posts?
Nope. Drag car cages and bars are 1-5/8 and 1-3/4 o.d. The railings at the park are 1-3/4 welded seam, and all the uprights near the water have an arc specified at the top that my buddy's bender wouldn't do (the contractor) so he brought the material to me.
 

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Interesting notes. I feel the shipping is reasonable, but I ship a lot of bigger fancy things and shipping bills under 3 digits all seem fine. I might feel different if I was ordering a single $20 pin, but I usually group my purchases if I can.

Very few things you can order from Hossfeld that weigh less than 30 pounds...
 
I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Hossfeld's are heat treated. I have seen the videos from back in the day that shows all that they can do and show me another bender besides American that can do everything a Hossfeld can. They were built to go into shops that needed to bend anything all day long, whether that be tube, pipe, flat bar, angle, anything.

The problem I see is most people compare them to one trick pony benders where the bender was built to bend one thing and one thing only which is usually roll cage tubing.

I don't have a Hossfeld but a bender with those capabilities appeals to me. I wouldn't want to limit myself to only being able to bend tubing and nothing but tubing.
 
Sometime back I talked with one of the guys at Hossfeld and he said he's had one in his personal shop for years and never needed more than the basic bender package and the bulldozer die setup. He said the bulldozer die is by far the best bang for your buck. I think Hossfeld could really benefit from some good quality videos showing some of the setups. And yes I know they do have a few but they're older poor quality by today's standards and don't show any more than the basic bender. Showing how the tooling packages work would sell more tooling.
 
Sometime back I talked with one of the guys at Hossfeld and he said he's had one in his personal shop for years and never needed more than the basic bender package and the bulldozer die setup. He said the bulldozer die is by far the best bang for your buck. I think Hossfeld could really benefit from some good quality videos showing some of the setups. And yes I know they do have a few but they're older poor quality by today's standards and don't show any more than the basic bender. Showing how the tooling packages work would sell more tooling.

I tend to take "personal shop" guys words with a grain of salt. They mean well in what they say but it tends to be within the realms of their little niche hobby that they do. Its like guys I have met who have only ever had stick welders and their entire view point is based on their own little world and anything outside of that may as well not exist.

I like talking to the job shop guys who have to be able to do whatever comes in the door.
 
Sometime back I talked with one of the guys at Hossfeld and he said he's had one in his personal shop for years and never needed more than the basic bender package and the bulldozer die setup. He said the bulldozer die is by far the best bang for your buck. I think Hossfeld could really benefit from some good quality videos showing some of the setups. And yes I know they do have a few but they're older poor quality by today's standards and don't show any more than the basic bender. Showing how the tooling packages work would sell more tooling.

Well, the "basic bender package" is quite encompassing. I attached an image from an older parts list. It has taken me several years to collect this entire package. The bulldozer (press brake) attachment is indeed probably the most-used tooling that isn't in this lot. But you can do really a lot with this set of tooling. The angle iron outbend set (bends angle iron in a circular arc with the leg out) is also very useful as it can be used to bend many things besides angle iron. I'm also attaching a pic of 4 steel wheels I bent up on my Hossfeld recently. They are nice and round and uniform and look great.

I agree about the videos. There is a Youtube content creator named Rob D'Amico who has two or three videos on using the Hossfeld. He is a shop teacher and his videos are instructional videos for students to do actual projects. These are the most informative videos I've seen. I just wish he'd do more.

A friend of mine is a very serious Hossfeld user. He sometimes threatens to write a book about advanced Hossfeld techniques. I wish he would.

If you have one, a good exercise is to consider a particular bend and then think of all of the ways you can implement that bend using the various Hossfeld tooling.

Another good exercise is to look at people's forsale postings of Hossfeld tooling that is shopmade, and try to suss out how they actually used it.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how to bend stainless wire into individual chain links to make a decorative chain to hang a Mexican multipointed star up as a light fixture. Just a little more thinking ..

metalmagpie
 

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