Working with wire
L-Bends and Z-Bends are made from music wire, threaded rod or another
type of solid rod. I personally do not make bends from anything
other than music wire because it distorts less than softer wires.
Note that music wire cracks more readily than softer wires.
Music wire is inexpensive and can be purchased from most local and
online hobby shops. I stock at least a couple pieces of every
I use side-cutters to cut 1/16" and smaller music wire and to cut
threaded rod up to size 4-40. I should use an
on a Dremel tool for all music wire because even 1/16" music wire will
ruin side cutters.
For larger sizes of wire nothing works better than the emery wheel.
It is generally a good idea to cut a generous length to make it easier
to work with. Excess length can be trimmed off later.
Cleaning and deburring
I suggest that you get in the habit of always deburring wire
immediately after cutting it. That includes not only the piece you
plan to use but also the leftover piece you put back in your stock. Wire that is not deburred ruins control horns. It shreds the nice
molded bearing surface as it is forced through the hole.
Use an emery wheel to square the end and deburr it. Hold the wire
at a 45° angle to the wheel and spin it to
remove the burr.
Use fine (0000) steel wool to clean wire.
Work slowly when bending wire. What is happening is that the
molecules in the wire are warming up during the bend and will allow you to
keep going once you start. The outside of the bend is stretching and
the inside is being compressed. Don't bend wire around sharp edges!
If you use your vice, then face the vice with a piece of something hard
that is radiused. A good hardwood works well for up to 1/8" music
wire because the force required to bend the wire is enough to crush the
wood only so that it creates a nice radius that the wire likes.
If you bend heavier wire you will need a metal face having a shaped
radius. The best way to go is buy an inexpensive wire bender with
hardened pins and a good lever.
Back to small wire for pushrods...
No matter what you do, don't try to crank the wire over in one swift
motion. The cold wire will crack and even if it doesn't, the wire is
When you start bending keep going until there is a little more to go.
If you think you can stop in the exact right place then do it. If
the exact right place is tough to gauge, then stop short of it.
Check the bend against whatever it will mate with to see how much more it
needs to go.
Because the wire is already partially bent you do not need to apply
force near the bend to prevent the wire from bowing. Hold the wire
slightly farther out and use the spring action of the wire to help get
bending started again. If you can't get the bend right in 3
attempts, then cut off the end and start over.