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Learning the English Wheel by William H.…
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Learning the English Wheel

by William H. Longyard

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I found "Learning the English Wheel" to be an informative, interesting read. Those two don't always go together - but this manual really had me wanting to get out and find a wheel to use!

I asked for the book via Early Reviewer because I'd always wanted to learn more about the English Wheel. I was never allowed to use this machine in shop class, then forgot about it for decades until I started racing cars. Then it seemed all the cool guys had one in their shops - and I was still never allowed to use one! Well, now I shall present myself and my manual to my shop pals, and say *I* know how to use one SAFELY and WISELY!

Really enjoyed how the book was set up. Safety first, wisdom, prep, general common sense. Then more details, projects, ideas, suggestions, and into more advanced information in the back.

This book is staying on my shelves - except for when I take it with me next time my car goes into the shop. "Saaaay, why don't *I* make that panel..." ( )
  camelama | Oct 7, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm the kind of guy who sees a tool, knows he's interested in using it and wants to start using it right away in order to learn how to apply it best. That's not necessarily something you do with the English Wheel. I seem to have a vague recollection from childhood of being introduced to this sort of machine, though I can't recall how or where, and initially thinking how easy it was to operate, what a simple thing it was. The person showing me told me to take it slowly, showed how the simple pressure of the wheel against the anvil caused the sheet metal to gradually bend. It seemed so easy I immediately got careless and did the natural thing... I failed to run across the proper length of the metal and ended up with the wrong degree of curvature. The guy showing me said it was okay, told me it was possible to correct it and how, but I just seemed to lose focus as I tried to adjust, and then I made the big mistake... pulled the panel out without releasing the pressure. There was a loud clack of the wheel against the anvil, and the lesson ended immediately. I don't think I ever saw an English Wheel again. Then I requested a review copy of this book since I've been looking to brush up on my understanding of all things automotive, and that old memory stirred in my mind, creating a strange fascination with the notion of auto body restoration and this tool in particular.

The great thing about this book is that it explains things well. Despite my vague recollection of failing dismally with it in my first encounter, the wheel still doesn't seem to me like a complicated machine. In fact, it plainly isn't. But therein lies the difficulty, because the simplicity of it makes the patience and skill of the user all the more important. And to be honest, I struggle with the patience required for something like this. It's a craftsman's tool, and the dictates of modern life require that craftsmen be both accurate and work quickly in order to succeed. The skill and experience it must take to produce panels both quickly and to the precise requirements with this tool must be enormous, but this book prepares you well for learning. I like that it explains not only the basic functions of the wheel, techniques, how and why to be cautious, and the various wheels available on the market, but a handful of other shop tools that may be useful in conjunction with it. I even began to think of other uses for the wheel... I suppose I should have been aware of its use for crafting panels for aviation but I wasn't. And now that I think of it, I suppose it would also be possible to perhaps find some work potentially crafting medieval replica armor for Renaissance Fest enthusiasts, or some such thing. I guess the sky's the limit, or at least your imagination is, if you can think of a use for a shaped and planished sheet metal panel, you can apply the wheel to it. It could even be useful for medium- to large-scale art sculpture, though I don't know that most folks who are looking to learn its use would generally lean in that direction. All in all, I highly recommend this book as an introductory volume. At the very least, it's capable of inspiring and educating, and the abundant illustrations really help in understanding the process. ( )
  IbnAlNaqba | Jun 21, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Have to say it is a very detailed book. Anyone who is interested in machines in anyway and may have never heard of the English Wheel need to get this book. It will make their lives in their shop even more interesting.
  JeremyWilson | Jun 6, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This informative book is clear, concise and well organized, opening with a detailed history of the tool and it's abilities, then progressing from early skill tasks to more difficult, advising the reader that while reading the book is informative, doing the task is the best teacher. The step by step photos with comments that bring the reader through the process is very informative and details well why the tool is extremely useful for fabricating that part you need that can't really be bought any more. I plan to now put the reading in practice and encourage others to do the same. Get the book, read it and give it a try (if it suits you need, which it did for me, without my knowing it beforehand). ( )
  MichaelGlenn | May 31, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a surprisingly interesting and useful book. I can't say I'm an expert in shaping metal - I've done just a touch of welding and some shaping on an anvil, mostly for simple tool making (I have a small gas forge) and I've messed around with making the occasional blade for a knife. I've also used a small break to wrap galvanized sheets into custom ducting using rivets to put the shapes together. I've also turned some very small metal items while attempting some equipment restoration - that's about the level of my experience with metal (my experience doing woodworking is fairly extensive so it's not like I'm a complete beginner - I do understand most of the principles involved and have familiarity with the nomenclature). I just wanted to give you an idea of where I'm coming from in this review.

I first saw an English Wheel being used during an episode of American Chopper - I think it was in season 2 or 3. I found the idea rather fascinating and looked forward to receiving this book as part of the LibraryThing Early reviewer's program. The book is notebook sized and about 3/4" thick with glossy paper covers, perfect bound (the signatures are glued into the spine). There are many muted color photos inside on plain, uncoated stock. The book opens with a bit of history and a general timeline of the use of the English Wheel. It then shows some surprisingly detailed photos of the use of the wheel to perform basic forming tasks - most of these are done by attractive females which I though a nice touch. It made me feel like anyone could do this type of work (don't get the wrong idea - I think any woman can do the job of most men, it's just unusual to see DYI-type manuals like this with female participants that aren't just being used as eye-candy. Kudos to the writer.).

The various operations were fairly well detailed in text with decent photos showing details - Even with the pale nature of the color printing it was still easy to see what was being referenced. It appeared to cover most of the basic use-cases in the first third to half of the book. The book then went into form building, the basic "buck" used to shape metals into complex and rather curvaceous forms. The rest of the book detailed some more advanced topics showing solutions to either building custom parts for cars or fabricating whole parts for restoration. I loved the topics and the care used to describe what was being done, including the various design and procedural decisions made during the process. It's very difficult to get that type of information and I could see this book being very useful as a reference to someone trying to accomplish similar tasks using the English Wheel. I'm not quite sure how many other books are available discussing these same efforts, but the approach, by using custom cars and motorcycles as examples, really place the skill into something one would want to learn to be successful in custom fabrication. ( )
  johnnyapollo | May 24, 2014 |
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