Tube Bender Stand And Air Over Hydraulic

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I’ve had my JD2 Model 3 tube bender for many years now and had it mounted in the floor in the middle of the garage, this worked great but required me to move EVERYTHING to bend some tube, talk about a major hassle.

I decided since I didn’t use the tube bender that often it was best to convert to the cheaper air over hydraulic instead of the full hydraulic which can run upward of one thousand dollars!

After reading about people using the harbor freight 8 ton long ram air hydraulic jack I decided to give it a try.  I picked it up on sale from harbor freight (it seems HF has a lot of sales) and gave it a try. At first I could not get it to work horizontal but soon realized the air portion of the ram has to be on the BOTTOM for the ram to fully extend.  I also decided to fill it with more fluid while it was sideways since I could utilize more of the reservoir.  After doing some test runs and realizing that this ram would extend further than the ratchet type arm that came with my JD2 Model 3 tube bender I decided it was time to build a stand and utilize more of those ENCO Casters I purchased a while ago.

I decided to use a bunch of the scrap tube I had laying around to build the stand, and also some sheet metal I had. (This is why the bender stand is not perfect and pretty.  This was a low budget modification to make my life easier and didn’t warrant using longer pieces from the get go and making MORE scrap.)

I don’t have the build-up pictures really mostly completed and final stages.

Here’s the stand, bender, etc, mounted with little to no grinding basic raw final stages.

tube bender

The next image shows how the ram is mounted to the tube, and the big cutout gusset that I used from to strengthen the mount. (Sorry for the crap on the left bottom of the gusset, the steel was scrap 😉 and even had the holes already there for us 🙂

bender gusset

Here you can see the sheet metal floor (18ga) as well as two of the tube bending die holders.

Yes the front of the stand is narrower than the rear, again think scrap tube I had that could be used 🙂

bender die stand

All painted, and sanded/cleaned up.  Also added the coolant/lubrication bottle holder.

bender painted

Another angle of the completed tube bender cart project.

tube bender

The air over hydraulic ram is not speedy but it sure is better than cranking it by hand, and probably slightly faster than by hand too (especially on the thicker stuff).


  1. That’s a great looking stand! I’ve got the Pro-Tools 105 manual bender, and just picked up this HF ram and will be ordering the Copperhead bracket kit. I’ve been looking for a similar stand, and this doesn’t look too bad to make at all. Did you cut off the base of your original stand or is it just below the big sheet of metal at the bottom of your cart?


    : Greg

    Comment by Greg — October 29, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

  2. The piece is under it still 🙂 Using it to support HEAVY items on the cart actually, works good.

    No need to buy a kit.
    The copperhead fab kit makes the ram pivot and thus you need to hold it. Mount int with some play at the end like mine shows in the 2nd pic from the top (rounded edges) and the ram will PIVOT on the mount not need to actually move with the bend.

    This works great, not the fastest tube bender but it does bend tube easier than by arm/hand.

    Comment by admin — October 29, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

  3. Can you bend a 4130tube (1 5/8 x .083 wall) with it?

    Comment by Will — March 23, 2009 @ 10:38 am

  4. Will – It should bend that no problem.

    Comment by admin — March 23, 2009 @ 10:47 am

  5. Do you have any close up pics of how you attached the piston end of the ram? Also of where/how the bender attaches to the stand?

    Comment by Brandon — May 8, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  6. Hi,
    Nice job! I also have a jd2 bender and I am interested in converting it to air over hydraulic operation. Could you please tell me where you purchased your air over hydraulic unit? I see that Harbor Freight sells a 20 ton air over hydraulic jack for $89.99 that has an air over hydraulic unit that looks very similiar to yours. I have also seen these same units selling for a few hundred dollars just for the air over hydraulic unit without a jack. I will appreciate any information you can provide.


    Comment by David — August 29, 2009 @ 2:11 am

  7. I have used the harbor freight ram.

    I’m not sure about theother units as I don’t have them but possibly they will be faster than the HF unit, it’s not too fast.

    But with a 20% off coupon it’s a deal 🙂

    Comment by admin — August 29, 2009 @ 8:14 am

  8. Saw ur picture and I thought that was a cool idea. So I started to
    build one. But i can’t get the air ram to go back To the start position wondering if u made a release vale. Wondering if u could help me out.

    Comment by Kirk — April 6, 2010 @ 5:58 am

  9. There is a release valve on the hydraulic ram just like every other hydraulic ram.
    It comes with a tool to unscrew it, and let it go back into start position.
    It may not move by itself, just push it a little, not much effort required.

    Comment by admin — April 6, 2010 @ 9:05 am

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