To make custom brake and fuel line pieces you need a tubing cutter, a tubing bender
of some sort, and a flaring tool. The flaring tool (top 2 items shown by red arrows)
is an inexpensive one ($6), and is only a single flaring tool which is fine for low
pressure fuel lines. For brake lines, however, you need a double flaring tool which
will also be covered herein. Even though this flaring tool states it is for aluminum
& soft copper, it does a nice job on these small steel lines too. The small item
on the right in the photo (blue arrow) is a tubing cutter (under $10). The bottom
two items (green & yellow arrows) are tubing benders. The left one (yellow arrow)
is a spring bender (under $3 for a set), the right one (green arrow) is a multi-size
bender (around $5). Other specialty benders are available at higher cost. Spring
benders come in a set with several different sizes -- a 3/16" spring bender will
only work with 3/16" tubing, etc.
This is a small tubing cutter which is perfect for brake and fuel lines. To use it,
center the tube on the wheels then tighten the thumb screw until the cutting wheel
contacts the tube, then continue tightening just a bit more--not too much or you
will mash the tube or damage the cutting wheel. Rotate the cutter around the tube
several times. Tighten the thumb screw again just a little and rotate the cutter
around the tube again several times. Repeat this until the tube is cut through (usually
three to four times). You'll know when it is time to retighten the thumb screw when
the cutter becomes easier to turn and becomes just a bit looser on the tube. A tubing
cutter is far better than a hack saw, and is really essential for this type of work.
A hack saw leaves a rough edge which can cause leaks, as well as metal shavings that
can get into the line and cause damage later.
To bend a tube with the spring benders, insert the tube into the spring....
....then gently and slowly bend the tube, then slide the spring off the tube. The
spring keeps pressure on the sides of the tube which helps to keep it from kinking
while it is being bent. It will still kink if you bend too fast or too sharply; however,
you can make sharper bends with the spring benders than the bending tool shown below.
To bend with the bending tool, insert the tube into the notch, and bend the tube
around the circle. This bender, as mentioned above, is intended to bend multiple
sizes of tubing. Smaller tubing can be bent in a tighter radius than larger tubing
so this bender will not bend smaller tubing as tight as it could be bent. (Note that
I am using scrap tubing here and in the previous two photos that was already bent
up some). Benders are available for just about all size tubing which can give tight
bends on any size tube, but for most automotive applications the spring benders will
usually be adequate.
If you plan to use a spring bender, be sure the tubing is bent to fit before making
Before making a flare, make sure the fitting is on the tube first, or you will need
to cut the flare off and put the fitting on and remake the flare. Also, make sure
you have reamed the inside of the tube where the tubing cutter left a ridge--failure
to do so may result in leakage due to a less than perfect flare.
Undo both sides of the flaring clamp.
Then insert the tube in the flaring tool with the end sticking out about 1/8" and
tighten the clamp bolts.
Then put the flaring press on and slowly tighten.
Then remove the flaring press, and remove the tube.
You will have a beautifully made custom piece to fit your exact need.
Note again, however, that this single flare process is not to be used for brake lines.
I show it on small lines mostly because I had the scrap left over and it was easy
to demonstrate here, but most fuel lines are much larger. The double flare will be
The double flaring process is similar to the single except that a different tool
is used and it it a two step process.
Again, as with the single flares, before making a double flare, make sure the fitting
is on the tube first, or you will need to cut the flare off and put the fitting on
and remake the flare. Also, make sure you have reamed the inside of the tube where
the tubing cutter left a ridge--failure to do so may result in leakage due to a less
than perfect flare.
Insert the tube into the flaring clamp so that it sticks out the same distance (red
arrow) as the width of the collar on flaring die (blue arrow), then tighten down
Now turn the die around and insert the pin into the tube.
Put the flaring press on and tighten till the black die is firm against the the tube
clamp (red arrow in right photo).
Remove the flaring press and the black die and your tube will look like this.
Now put the flaring press directly on the previously made partial flare and slowly
tighten the press till the flare is right against the edge of the clamp, as seen
in the right photo. Then remove the press.
The left photo shows the new double flare still in the clamp. The right photo shows
the finished product. You now have a great looking and functional double flare, suitable
for brake lines, power steering lines, transmission cooler lines, fuel lines, etc.
Feel free to save this page to your computer for your personal use and future reference--no
other use is authorized without prior written permission from me. All illustrations
from the 1964 or 1965 Falcon Shop Manuals used pursuant to permission granted by
Ford Motor Company. Disclaimer: This site is not intended to instruct or teach anyone
in proper or safe methods of working on or maintaining any type of vehicle or use
of any tool and the author takes no responsibility for the use of the information