I had read pretty good reviews about the brake, which cost $59.95.
Overall, the quality looked decent when I opened the package, but what I noticed was the steel hold-down bar that secures the work piece in place to the bed while bending was a separate, loose piece of metal. Clamps were required to maintain pressure on the hold-down bar and keep the work piece secured..
I decided I could sacrifice a little bit of width on the brake (I needed about 20" clear for my project) and that I could install a built-in clamping systems which would make using the brake more efficient.
The photo shows the stock metal brake with the required clamps holding down the steel bar which secures the work piece.
I permanently mounted the brake to a plank that has a piece of wood below which can be clamped into a portable workbench. The plank has a hole in it so I can just hang it on the wall when not in use. The arms unscrew and are removable to help make for compact storage.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Materials (inexpensive) were obtained from the local hardware store and are follows:
- (2) knurled knobs with 5/16" machine screw
- (2) 5/16" fender washers
- (2) 3/8" diam x 1/2" long stiff springs (approx. dimensions)
Step 2: Drilling
I then used a punch to set some dimples at the drill hole locations.
Using the hand drill, I drilled a pilot hole through both the steel hold-down bar and the bed of the brake.
Next I used the drill press to enlarge the holes in the hold-down bar for through-feeding the 5/16" knurled knob machine screw.
On the back side of the hold-down bar, I drilled some oversize holes about half-way through the hold-down bar to create a recess that the springs could compress into.
I clamped a piece of plywood to the drill press to support the hold-down bar as I drilled it.
I guess this work could all be done with a hand drill if a drill press was not available.
The steel seemed pretty mild and drilled easily.
Step 3: Tapping
Step 4: Assembly and Start Bending
The springs should be stiff enough to lift the hold-down bar off of the bed. As the knobs are tightened, the spring compress into the recesses and the hold-down bar can provide full contact for clamping down thin sheet metal.
See my next Instructable for how to make copper shutter caps using this improved metal bending brake.