Motorising a Bead Roller




Introduction: Motorising a Bead Roller

About: Woodsman and field tutor on a week day. Life long inventor, designer, engineer for the rest of the time. From items that make life easier to items with no reason to be....other than the idea popped into my hea…

I have a need to form some beads into metal and to that end I purchased a cheap hand operated bead roller.

Whilst researching what I was buying I saw repeatedly that using the crank handle to turn the bead rollers made it difficult to use. I clamped the machine in my vice and gave it a crank, the internet was not wrong, the crank handle takes one hand away from the job and has you reaching way over to turn a complete circle...... I was not going to use it until I had motorised it.

I would not be able to motorise it with it mounted in the vice so I welded up a stand to mount the machine on, this is not part of this instructable as it is simple metal frame that stops it from moving :), suffice to say the single leg is 50mm square tube.

Again I hit the internet to see what ideas there were for motorising, I discovered that you can buy ready built motor drive assemblies that just bolt on, but the motor is mounted on the end of the cranking shaft, making an already wide machine even wider, I wanted my motor tucked away under the machine. I watched many videos of other peoples modifications and mixed and matched all that I felt would work best for me.


Bead rolling machine on a stand

2000lb ATV winch

3/8 chain wheels 1off 27 tooth and 1 off 28 tooth

3/8" chain

100mm x 6mm mild steel plate

2" x 1" steel tube

Metal enclosure of a suitable size, mine being 320mm x 150mm x 80mm deep with a hinged door and key lock

12V 30A power supply

DC motor speed control

Motor connector

Reversing switch

Foot switch

3 core cable for mains connection and to connect the foot switch

3 pin plug for foot switch

Step 1: Modify the Winch

Removal of a couple of screws had the winch spool off, once I had removed the cable from the spool I cut the flange off the outer end on my bandsaw then turned down the end to 25mm to accept one of the chainwheels.

Step 2: Modify the Chain Wheels

When I ordered the chainwheels I had already checked that a 27 tooth would fit, with its chain, into the winch cradle, the other chainwheel has one more tooth being 28, this is just good practice so that the chain will not run in the same place on the wheels all the time.

The chainwheels were drilled and bored out to 25mm to fit both the input shaft of the bead roller and the winch spool. A side hole was drilled in the boss of each and tapped 8mm for a grub screw.

Step 3: Mounting Bracket

The mounting bracket is cut from 100mm x 6mm mild steel, holes were drilled and slotted to match up with the mounting centres of the shaft bearings on the bead roller, another hole M8 tapping size was drilled in the plate where it will be drilled through the bead roller frame on assembly.

Holes were drilled to attach the hinge and piece of 1" x 2" steel tube, a bit longer than the width of the winch spool cradle, with hinge attached, was welded to the bottom of the plate. I drilled through a hole in the spool cradle into the bottom tube 10mm diameter to be a good clearance on an M8 screw.

Step 4: Mounting and Setting the Chain

The spool cradle was drilled to accept the door hinge and the reassembled winch was attached to the mounting bracket, via the hinge.

M12 studding was cut to replace the bolts that hold the shaft bearings to the machine frame as the existing bolts are very short, the studding was installed and held in place in the bearing blocks with loctite thread adhesive.

The bracket was then hung on the studs and nuts were screwed on finger tight.

The chain was offered up and split to a length that will hold the spool cradle clear of the tube at the bottom of the bracket then the joining link was inserted to hold it in place. an M8 bolt and nut with a compression spring was inserted in the front of the spool cradle to tension the chain. I then ran the motor from a battery and adjusted the position of the bracket until the chain ran quietly. Once locked in the correct position I drilled the M8 tapping size hole in the bracket through the machine frame, re-drilled the bracket 8mm, tapped the hole and inserted and tightened a bolt. My picture of the bracket in place shows it to be at a slight angle, this is due to slack in the hinge I used for the pivot, chain and chainwheels line up perfectly.

I then slightly loosened the top shaft bearing nut, this is important as the top bearing needs to be able to move, the other bearing nut and the 8mm bolt being well tightened will ensure that the bracket stays in the right position.

When the motor runs at 12v it is as fast as I would want to go but I realised I would want more control of the speed. Next job speed control!

Step 5: Variable Speed

I decided that I wanted all the electrical bits to be unpluggable and removable, to this end I found a metal enclosure with a hinged lid and a key operated lock, that was large enough to take the power supply and speed controller. Once these parts were positioned I cut keyhole slots in the back and transferred the hole centres onto a piece of 18mm plywood which was screwed to the leg of the machine stand, thread inserts were pressed into the plywood from the back for 5mm flange headed screws, these screws will allow the box to be lifted off of the machine.

A mains socket was cut into the base, the motor connector let into one side, a 3 pin DIN was let into the other side for the foot peddle switch and the speed control knob and display were set into the top.

The wiring is simple, just follow the markings on the power supply and speed controller using the cable that came with the winch for the 12v output from the power supply to the speed controller and from the speed controller to the motor socket, just make sure you use red for + and black for -

A piece of 3 core mains cable runs from the mains in socket to the power supply.

The speed controller has a "centre off" three direction control switch which will be replaced with a foot switch, more of this next.

Step 6: Foot Pedal

As the idea is to keep all the switching foot operated I decided to add a stomp switch to the footswitch cover for direction change, this is the only bit of wiring that needs to be thought through carefully to make sure it works correctly. The wire to the middle contact of the reversing switch that came fitted to my speed control was yellow, I have shown in my sketch how it would be wired to the foot switches using the current switch colours but in reality I used a 3 pin Din plug and socket and 3 core mains cable to extend the lead once the existing switch was removed.

Step 7: All Done!

I had Mrs rog make me a cover out of waterproof canvas as the machine will be outside under a canopy while I have it out to use, it stores away in a shed when not in use.

It takes but a couple of minutes to connect up the electronics and get it running.

The following video is best viewed with the sound off, (I am not very good with video) it does however show how easy it is to change direction and speed.

Make it Move Challenge

Participated in the
Make it Move Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • For the Home Contest

      For the Home Contest
    • Big and Small Contest

      Big and Small Contest
    • Game Design: Student Design Challenge

      Game Design: Student Design Challenge



    Question 5 months ago

    Great project been wanting to do the same to my bead roller but having a problem sourcing the speed controller. Most winch motors these days are brushless permanent magnets and from what I am reading/seeing on the likes of Ebay and Amazon your recommended speed controller won't work with brushless. There are so many out there at vastly different prices for something that might work or not. Would you be able to recommend a suitable one if possible.


    Answer 5 months ago

    Sorry to say I cannot recommend any speed controllers, when I built this I just researched the winch I was going to purchase and saw where people had used a 12v power supply and speed controller with it and bought the same thing.
    Good luck with your project, sorry I cannot help you more.


    1 year ago

    Hi, found this instructible very instructive, thanks for sharing your time and job.


    1 year ago

    I have never before heard of "bead forming". Your video does not show what is happening to the workpiece. Wikipedia only relates it to woodworking, but you appear to be doing something (I can't see what !) to a piece of metal.

    Please would you explain what bead forming is, add a video, or provide a link ?
    Many thanks !


    Reply 1 year ago

    Hi The roller can be used to raise a hump in metal to stiffen it or to make it look nice, It can also be used to turn up an edge or roll an edge over a wire.
    A couple of pictures of practice beads attached and there are any number of videos on YT.


    1 year ago

    I posted this build the day I got it running, it now has a guard on the chain and gears.
    The foot pedal is momentary, as soon as your foot is lifted the motor stops.


    Tip 1 year ago on Step 6

    Safety first! As soon as you power this beast, the hazard level goes way up! First, the chain, sprockets, & all other moving parts except the bead rolls should be covered with a guard. Second, the machine should be controlled with a "dead-man" switch that requires constant pressure to keep the machine operating.


    1 year ago

    The FOOT SWITCH=GOOD idea.