Improvising a Draw-Bench

Q: I think I’m getting to the limit of what I can pull through a plate by hand. How hard would it be to rig up a draw-bench that would increase the size of wire I could draw?

A: The first draw bench I ever built, back when I was just out of school and on a very restricted budget, was about as simple and cheap as it gets. It was just a series of one-inch deep holes drilled in a piece of 2″ × 4″ lumber. That got C-clamped to the workbench top, with one end butted up against the vise that was already mounted there. Then I took a length of sturdy iron rod or pipe (I don’t recall which it was) and attached a hook made from quarter-inch steel rod, attaching it about four inches from one end so that with the end of the steel rod inserted in a hole, the hook was just about level with the vise jaws. I used vise-grip pliers, with a ring attached to one end, as a draw tong.

After fixing the pliers to the end of the wire, I’d catch the ring with the hook, and use the long lever of the bar, with its short end stuck in a hole, to pull the pliers along, switching holes every few inches. It worked well enough, though slower than a “real” draw bench, and it tended to give the drawn wire slight step marks from each time I’d have to interrupt the draw to change holes. How much power it gives you is simply a function of the length and strength of the lever bar. Since at that time I only needed such a thing occasionally, it worked fine for me.

by Peter W. Rowe M.F.A., G.G.