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Metal tubing requires special tube tools to cut, bend and flare it in most applications. Unlike a saw, the tube tools used to cut tubing are made up of steel cutting disks. By using the tubing cutter, the tube is cut without leaving a bur. There are tube tools designed to bend tubing without kinking or creating flat spots that could impair the flow of fluid through the tubing. Most tubing requires the ends of the tube to be flared with tube tools when creating a connection.
The typical tubing cutter consists of a steel cutting wheel positioned opposite a rolling guide wheel that is adjustable to increase the pressure exerted onto the cutting wheel. Once the cutter is placed onto the tubing, the adjusting knob is turned to drive the cutting wheel into the tubing, and the tube tools are rotated around the tubing. This creates a smooth, continuous cut in the tubing that is free of burs and sharp edges. The cutter often includes a deburring tool that is placed inside of the fresh cut and twisted to ensure no burs exist. Many craftsmen also rub the outer edge of the cut tubing with a fine-grade sandpaper to smooth any exterior defects.
Most tubing will kink or crack if bent by hand. Special tube tools used to bend the fragile tubing allow sharp bends that will not crack or kink and create smooth flowing bends in the tubing that can be used to route the tubing around certain obstacles. These bending tools often incorporate a series of different-sized guides that fit individual tube sizes and allow the tubing to be bent around the guide to create the smooth bend radius. A lock on the handle of these special tube tools keeps the tubing in place while it is being bent to the proper angle.
When making connections with tubing, special connections known as flares are used to join two lengths of tubing together so they will not leak. The tube tools used to make these connections are known as flaring tools. Consisting of a clamp-type assembly with several different-sized openings that fit various-sized tubing and a cone-shaped anvil that is driven into the open end of the tubing, the flaring tool is used to expand the end of the tubing. Two types of flares are created with the tube tools: single and double flares. The single flare is the most common, although the double flare is the strongest and most durable.
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