Hi. Here’s a note about ring benders.
In my studio I use an old school cast iron (steel) cam-style bender which they don’t make any more. It’s the same style as the newer benders that you can find but much more robust.
Last year I acquired another style of bender. This is made by Pepe which you look down on while using. The dies are interchangeable and include nylon inserts. I have been using this newer machine much more than the old one. Even to bend heavier stainless stock.
I just returned from Chicago after teaching a new class on forging rings. We were forging heavy stock and I demonstrated the use of ring shank bending machines. I had shipped out one of the old school benders but one of my students brought one of these other (Pepe style )
benders. It wasn’t made by Pepe, rather it was made be Durston, was brand new, fresh out of the box.
I was excited to see and use this machine since I have always had utmost respect for Durston and have owned three Durston mills, including my current D158 over/under flat/wire which is my workhorse. But I was really disappointed. That machine was frustrating to use to the point of putting it aside. The interchangeable dies were milled sloppily and several had to be manhandled free with pliers. To say I was surprised is an understatement.
I rarely endorse a specific manufacturer but the Pepe ring bender has really held up for me. One thing—if you buy one, unscrew the ball on the handle and replace it with something larger. You can find a threaded plastic ball at a good hardware store.
Andy Cooperman, Metalsmith