The English Wheel is an old craft forming process, invented (we fear – though we are trying to prove otherwise!) in Germany, for flexibly creating smooth curvature in sheet metal components. The sheet is passed between two small rollers, one of which has a profile, which are pressed against each other with controllable force in a stiff C-frame. The rollers cause a local compression across the sheet, leading to local thinning and spreading of the material, in turn causing a small increase in local curvature which can be controlled and increased by repeated passes of the workpiece through the roll-bite with manual steering.
Retired local craftsman Bob Ford, who for 50 years ran his own business making customised body parts for Rolls Royce, Bentley and others, gave us some evening classes in the technique – and demonstrated how excellent geometry and surface quality could be achieved using this craft.