As supplied to the Bluebird Project, and many other aircraft and automotive restorers. Justin Baker’s English Wheeling Machines are an affordable way into producing the sculptures in sheet metal you have always desired.

Justin Lee Baker – English Wheeling Machines

 Office: 21, Deeble Road  | Kettering | Northamptonshire | NN15 7AA

Workshop:  Railway View | Kettering | Northamptonshire | NN16 8EA

Tel. Justin direct on . 07909 742 819


e-mail: |

"We installed a small wheeling machine too - an 'English Wheel' a clever little contraption. Dave and I were thoroughly impressed at our instant ability to wheel a double curvature panel (not that it would fit anywhere on the boat - much practice needed) and by the resilience of the little machine. Most pleased".   …… The Bluebird Project

Justin Baker English Wheeling Machines

The EW1000 Bench top machine being used by the Bluebird team, and as seen on TV (Sky-news)

The 10000 machine being demonstrated at the Light Aircraft Association Revival meeting at Sywell

The 10000 Wheeling Machine - An imposing looking machine with  a robust Frame manufactured out of 1/4” Plate. The Mechanism has a top mounted hand-wheel, and over centre yoke moving the anvils away from your work quickly. This machine features a 200mm dia. top anvil, with a set of 5 lowers, with contacts (Mounted on a rack at the front) Shown here with the optional stand.


Designed, evolved, MANUFACTURED and hand built in Great Britain, by Justin Baker. This is the Raptor-2000 Machine. Standing 722mm high with a working throat of 13". This immensely strong machine is a mere 14kg, allowing it to be posted to you for free. Supplied with anvils or wheels from almost flat, to a very tight curve (three lower curved, and one flat top anvil). The top is hard machine steel, 100mm in diameter, with the three lowers in Stainless Steel. Precision Laser cut frame. Stress analysis modelled. Supplied to a vast range of industries.

Already have a 30"+ Edwards type cast machine? Many of the Raptors have been supplied to panel makers with these, as this machine can get tighter curves over the tool and cradle!


Anvils, the other side to Justin Baker’s wheeling machines. Over the years we have patterned, most styles and shapes of anvils from the Big cast iron machines such as the Edwards / Ranalah, Keetona etc. We re-manufacture almost all of the anvils styles commonly used.


We also cut specials such as louvre cutters, top wheels with bearings fitted to reduce inertia, almost any shape wheel you require.


Commonly drawings are supplied for your approval, before manufacture.

Learning to use a machine?


The Light Aircraft Association is running courses throughout the year. Each student has a hands on experience of a wheeling machine, producing a compound curve and surface and finishing in a few hours.


This course covers the principles and practice, of metal forming and stretching using an English wheeling machine.

It is designed to present a traditional working method of shaping sheet metal by the practical use of the machine itself.



Product Brochures


Raptor 10000

Raptor 2010

Traditional Cast-Iron English Wheels (Wheeling Machine) + Engineers Curves / Sweeps

Cast Iron Wheeling Machine

Video walk-round

Cast Machine

Video—Top Anvil

Video 50mm Lower anvils

Product Videos


Archived & Discontinued Products







Shipping worldwide

Mechanism—or Lifter

Precision CNC Cut components ensure accurate lifting of the cradle and anvils. Key way shaft, and tight tolerances keep those important contact or patches perfectly aligned.


The English wheel, or its more common name of wheeling machine, a lesser known tool that that quietly resides in the hallowed inner sanctum of some of the best known panel makers and automotive restorers in the industry; and its not just the UK where they live!


So, here’s a brief insight into the use and some history into this enigma of a panel maker’s secret tool.


Sheet metal work is often considered an art. Although many of us can fabricate basic metal parts, it takes a true craftsman to create some of the complex shapes found in motor bodies or aircraft panel-work. The English wheel is one of the many tools used to create these works of art. The manufacture of body parts in England was once called "panel beating"; a highly skilled trade. The English Wheel was developed and perfected by those who were considered the masters of this specialized trade, "the panel makers" or coachbuilders.  Traditional coachbuilders use this type of machine to build low volume runs of vehicles like the Aston Martins etc.


Design and operation

The English Wheel’s primary function is to shape compound (double curvature) curves in flat steel, and aluminum, smoothly and easily, by pushing metal back and forth using only the strength of one or two workers. It requires little physical effort. No electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic power is needed, and the Wheel is almost silent in operation.

The design is simple, with few moving parts. The most significant part of the machine is the frame usually made of cast iron. The Frame is "C" shaped and the gap from the anvils to the rear of the C is called the throat, The design objective is for this structure be very stable, sturdy and extremely rigid.


The parts used to do the shaping are fixed at the open end of the frame. A flat-faced, hard steel wheel, or its other name “anvil” is fitted at the top of the frame. This wheel, usually 6 to 8  inches in diameter and 3 inches wide, is mounted on an axle with strong roller bearings.

The lower rollers, often called anvils, also have axles and roller bearings. These are smaller in diameter than those of the top wheel. They have a curved surface, each of them different in its profile to suit the requirements of the panel to be manufactured. The anvils are mounted in a strong steel yoke which is moved vertically by turning a large steel hand-wheel   located at the bottom of the machine, or in some cases the use of a foot-wheel  allowing the operator better support of the panel whilst he or she is working the panel.

This control wheel is attached via a coarse screw thread. The yoke or cradle sits on top of this screw and moves up and down with it as it is turned.

It takes several different passes of the panel between the upper and lower anvils  to achieve a high crowned curve in a metal  panel.


To produce the required curve in the panel the operator uses slight pressure on the metal as it passes between the anvils; just enough so the metal doesn’t skip or slip through the wheels. Too much pressure will  produce marks in the surface of the work and spoil the panel.

The first few passes of the metal panel through the wheel will indicate if the pressure setting is correct and, more importantly, if the anvils are aligned. These anvils have what is commonly known as contacts, lands, or blows; this is an area on the anvil that is slightly flattened out to reduce marks in the stretching process.

To begin, the operator inserts the metal panel into the wheel and adjusts the yoke to achieve the correct tension as described above. Then the operator moves the metal panel through the wheel in a gentle, smooth, back-and-forth motion. As it is passed through the wheel the panel takes its compound shape.

How the metal is moved through the wheel is very important. Each pass of the metal through the wheel must be close enough to the previous one so they will overlap slightly; this is known as tracking. This effect can be seen on the reverse of the panel, where the contact or patch area of the anvil in use is clearly seen in lines. If the passes do not overlap on each pass the metal will stretch unevenly, and the surface will be       irregular leading to extra work to get the required standard of finish.

The panel must also be moved from the operators right-to-left, (or left-to-right) without missing any section of metal and each track must be  parallel to the previous one. The wheels press the metal in a long line, and the aim is to move evenly so all of the metal is stretched evenly. To learn to “track” correctly takes time and patience, and when first staring out it feels akin to riding a bicycle backwards.

If a panel requires more shape on one side than the other, the number of wheeling passes determines the degree to which the material stretches and therefore the amount it curves. The process of wheeling, gradually reduces the panel thickness on each pass so there is a finite amount of curve that can be achieved whilst maintaining an acceptable thickness of the material being worked.


Brief history

Sheet metal  was traditionally the original craft of a blacksmith, hammering metals to make armor, "beating" them out of flat sheet metal over anvils, shot or sand bags or using  hollowed-out wooden forms as patterns. The recognition of the panel beating trade occurred circa 1900 due mainly to the developing automotive industry. Body building involved a great deal of intensive work, because each body part had to be very smooth, the industry developed, the trade became highly skilled, organized, and respected worldwide.


As the automotive and aviation industries grew larger, mainly due to the war around that time, requirement for quality increased as did the need to form large panels free of hammer marks and the stresses produced from  hammering the material. From this necessity the English wheel was born.

The exact date of the first machine isn't known, but it is thought that the concept was first produced in France in medieval times, where possibly a wooden frame was utilized.

Commercial production is thought likely to be around 1890 possibly produced by large foundries in the midlands, which is still to this day the heart of sheet metal craft.


At that time there were a few large engineering companies with sufficient knowledge and  industrial expertise to produce the vast castings required. Edwards was one such firm, marketing the equipment from their London premises. Kendrick, and Ranalah where also well known manufacturers from around 1920 onwards, producing machines with throat sizes of up to 48 inches (120cm), primarily aimed at the aviation industry.


Most of those early machines still remain in use to this day. These are widely respected machines that command high prices when they are offered on the market, although they rarely come up for sale. For example, a 42 inch machine in working order is likely to achieve upwards of £3,000 and, if you’re lucky, you might get the matching   anvils, although these would have been well worked and have become extraordinarily hard due to

them being “work-hardened” over the years, much like a railway track ages over time.

Some of these machines are nearing a century old obviously wear out, but as with most good quality engineering, these machines can be brought back to life by replacing worn or missing parts, as the components tend to be fairly simple to reproduce. “Hollowing” of the top anvil is a common problem and the anvil can be re-cut or re surfaced, Original pattern lower anvils, are CNC cut in hard machine steel. The replacement parts made to much finer tolerances, and almost zero run out on the anvils.

Slop or play in the lower adjuster is common too, sometimes rectified by simply heating the original leaded mount with a gas torch or blow lamp, melting it back into shape and place.














More recent products have used different methods of manufacture to produce the C section frame, such as sheet metal, or rolled hollow section tubing (RHS) with varying levels of success, these are mostly mass produced in China, but the principle remains the same.


In 2006 Justin Baker was asked by a friend to help him source an English Wheel. After several months of searching he was finding only the old machines mentioned above which were commanding very high prices. 

Justin decided to put his design and  engineering skills to good use and with the use of a computer aided design and manufacture. After much research he began designing  English wheels and having them made to his own specification using the local small manufacturing firms. Several types were   developed and produced over the following years, including sheet metal designs such as the Raptor-2000 now discontinued.

In 2008 patterns were made for the very first cast machine, which is now manufactured in small quantities in his home town in         Northamptonshire, England, from where they are dispatched worldwide to be put to work.

Almost silent in its operation, this sturdy machine is cast in a good old-fashioned foundry in Staffordshire, which is one of only a few capable of the required substantial sustained pour from the crucible in order to produce the stiff ribbed frame needed for these machines. Featuring a useful working throat depth of 24 inches (610mm), it has a large 7.8 inch (200mm) diameter top anvil cut from a huge chunk of EN16 machine steel, it’s 2.75 inch (70mm) wide face is scalloped out on each face to reduce inertia, and aid hand movement, for those tight corners. Five lower anvils are supplied 2.75 inch (70mm) with the machine. All are precision CNC cut from

machine steel, from an almost flat, to a very tight curve, and come with a tray for easy access to the desired profile.

As below


· R400 (15.7”)

  with a contact area or blow of 12.0mm

· R300 (11.8”) with blow of 8.5mm

· R200 (7.8”) with blow of 7.2mm

· R100 (3.9”) with blow of 6.35mm

· R50 (1.9”) with blow of 4.0mm


This machine features a unique adjustable anvil cradle, allowing perfect alignment of the contact patch or blow, reducing panel marks, allowing good stretch overlaps, while reducing the need for any further planishing.


Justin’s cast machine now being produced have recently been put to work with some prestigious companies on some amazing projects such as Eagle E-types, Aston Martin Racing, Coventry prototype panels, Tech 3 in France, and is used by many more global makers of metal masterpieces.


A machine similar to the one shown below with a traditional foot-wheel in design allowing for pressure to be adjusted accurately while allowing the operator full support of the work will cost just £1,850 or is available without the stand for just £1,450. Shipping is available anywhere in the world.

Almost silent in operation, with no power, little effort is required.

David Brown— automotive sample work below.

The silent shaper

The Raptor 2015

Bench-top Model just

£1,450  + Shipping worldwide

Anvils / Rollers

Foot-wheel design.

Allows control of the anvils to the panel, adjusting pressure in an accurate manner, while allowing the operator full support of the panel. Machine Levelling feet (8) supplied with all stands.


Sweeps / Profile Gauges

Panel Makers Sweeps

Accurate laser cut sweeps, or profile gauges. Measuring 4ft Long, 3mm alloy, laser engraved. Manufactured from the correct mathematic graphs.

“Panel Makers Sweeps”