This project may not seem extremely exciting but it is very useful and satisfying to create other parts with once it is finished.  It IS exciting, get EXCITED!  If you are a true Maker, you are already teeming with excitement over the fact that you are reading another instructable and expanding your mind's quiver.

Recently, I needed 90 degree bends in aluminum stock to create brackets for a project I have going.  I grabbed $25, ran to Home Depot and after a few hours created my own metal bending tool.  Quick, dirty, simple and cheap.

DIY Metal Brake from Whim on Vimeo.

A Few Quick Notes:
The symbol " denotes inches.
Quantities come before descriptions of materials and are followed by an "x".
Images will be referred to in steps based on the numerical order they are placed within that step.
I used button head machine screws but in retrospect, it would be better to use flat head screws and countersink them.
Everything you need can easily be purchased at Home Depot or similar.

1)  1x  2" width by 1/8" thick flat steel stock
(I bought 36" of this for $6.97)

2)  1x  6" lengths of 1" Steel L bracket
(I bought 36" of this for $6.47)

3)  9x  #8-32 x 3/8" machine screws (preferably flat head)
(I bought a box of 100 button heads for $5.80)

4)  2x  #8-32 x 1" machine screws
(I bought a 4 pack for $1.18)

5)  2x  #8-32 wing-nuts
(I bought a 6 pack for $1.18)

6)  9x  #8 Lock washers
(I bought a 30 pack for $1.18)

7)  10x #8-32 hex nuts
(I bought a 100 pack for $3.92)

8)  2x  1/2" hinges
(I bought a 2 pack of 1.5" loose pin zinc hinges for $2.27)

This all adds up to just under $29 but if you skip the 100 and 30 packs of screws and washers and just get what you need, you should be able to get it down to $25.

1)  Metal saw
(I got by with a hacksaw with a metal cutting blade)

2)  Power Drill

3)  5/32" drill bit for metal
(just big enough diameter to get a #8 screw through with a little coaxing from a screwdriver)

4)  5/16" drill bit for metal
(not a must have but useful for cleaning up the edges on the smaller holes you drill)

5)  Screwdriver
(whichever type that corresponds to the machine screws you buy)

6)  Pliers
(For holding nuts while you tighten machine screws)

Cost: < $25 (not including tools)

Time: ~2 hours

Drink: Coffee.

Follow the Making...
Twitter:  @ImagineN4tion
Blog:  http://imaginen4tion.blogspot.com/

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sensei0914 days ago

pls someone give me an idea on how can i make a pvc bender ... tnx .. proud pinoy here

mamajr966 months ago

i need to bend 13 gauge aluminum (.090) and am already half way through making one of this except welding instead of bolting, and was curious what was the largest gauge of aluminum you bent with this, thanks

csiu311 months ago

Inspire by yours y make this one. Thanxs

csiu3 csiu311 months ago

* I make

Youripasted3 years ago
Congratulations, one of the most detailed and well explained instructables I've ever read. I'll be following your guides in the future. Regards :)
full_metal3 years ago
cool hand held sheet folder

i use actual power presses what do same thing but on mutch larger scale for my job, if you want i can give you mathmatical formulas for working out all your bend area and your bend radiouse, also useful for geting your leg lengths corect size
ongara_013 years ago
simple machine..good job
Mr.Sanchez3 years ago
You know what would be cool..?What if you place some kind of protactor to measure propertly the angles of the bend.Just thought.
Mr.Sanchez3 years ago
CLEVER!! thnks for share.
0xyJin3 years ago
I think this would be great to use as a small acrylic bender. Just need to add a heating element.
ImagineN4tion (author)  0xyJin3 years ago
Hi OxyJin. That is a great idea! We have some old ceramic heating elements from a women's hair straightener lying around here somewhere... That idea might warrant a quick mod and new instructable :)
slabcitymr3 years ago
Great project!! Thank you!
altered143 years ago
I think it's great, i have a the litttle 18" brake from harborfreight and the little vise 5" brake but i think this might work even better.

What was the gauge metal can you bend up to?
ImagineN4tion (author)  altered143 years ago
Hi altered14.

Short useful answer: The only metal I have bent is 1/8" aluminum and I have not tested it with anything else. Naturally, it will depend on the metal you are trying to bend and the cross sectional area of it.

Long useless answer: I worked out on paper the thickest aluminum stock you could bend assuming you were trying to bend a 1" wide piece and could impart 50lb force on the lever arm. However, considering I found yield strengths for aluminum everywhere from 35MPa up to 414MPa and was unsure which is actually correct for the standard aluminum (which I think is annealed 6061 Aluminum) that we are using the numbers were pretty useless...

If you are worried about not getting enough force I would suggest following some of the suggestions in the comments here and placing longer handles on the tool, slotting the flat plat to accommodate different thicknesses, and perhaps anchoring the tool to a bench.

If you make your own rendition be sure to share some pics here :)
dj_nme3 years ago
Nice hack-together.

If you used larger sized angle-bar for the fixed back jaw, the wingnuts could be set further back and allow bends greater than 90degress.
Using angle-bar the same size as the flat-bar use for clamping, the wingnuts could be set twice as far back.
A second "stabilising/trailing arm" on the back of the fixed jaw would also make the whole thing more stable.
Jasparus3 years ago
Very nice. Perhaps by welding a 5 inch round pipe inside the angle handle it may ease presure on the hand when bending.
scook93 years ago
That's a nifty tool. A couple of things to consider for perhaps future versions:

1) Find another way to hinge the two pieces anywhere but over where you're bending the part would allow for a cleaner, near right angle bend, and a smaller radius for the bend will allow you to make an even more compact, right angle bend. You could accomplish that by being able to change the thickness of the hold-down plate.

2) Bench mounting the tool and as mentioned above, attaching a longer handle would allow you to bend heavier gauge metal.
Muddle3 years ago
Why not reassemble the brake using flat head screws in countersunk holes from the face side of the assembly and then you would be able to get acute angle bends?
lsykes3 years ago
I did the same thing with a hammer and vice, (was a lot cheaper.)
barista3 years ago
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Aluminium bar is my material of choice for a lot of projects and I usually bend it in the vice with a hammer. this is:
1. rarely accurate;
2. brutal ;
3. hard to avoid damaging the material.
Was considering this, but now I'll be making my own.
That's was my situation too . I usually use my heavy duty blacksmith vice, very nice but too much for brass and aluminium smaller parts and hammering is proper just for steel .
I'm gonna make thi device as soon as possible
ImagineN4tion (author)  barista3 years ago
Hi barista, you are welcome :) Glad you will be finding it useful and very stoked it is saving you from buying one. DIYing our way through life.
Great project which i'm excited to go and do. i'm with Barista, i use by vise and beat the bend on the aluminum with rubber mallet :( . Thank you for sharing.
BlueCabbie3 years ago
Nice simple design!

You should mention that when drilling metal bar, ALWAYS use some kind of lubricant. Tapping fluid is the best (available at any hardware or auto parts store, or Google it), but any oil will help. The oil pulls the heat away from the bit, allowing it to cut faster, and prevents dulling the drill bit.

When drilling aluminum, using a fluid for tapping aluminum will prevent the sticky aluminum from welding itself to the bit.

I use 'AlumTap' and 'Mystic Metal Mover' I googled off the net (for no other reason than I liked the names.) :)
maxman3 years ago
Great. This is exactly what I've been looking for. Will vote for this.
Edgar3 years ago
Since it's a neat Model that can bend not only Metal, but both Plastic and other newfangled sheet materials, I've put a link to this on Nice Paper Toys:

Edgar3 years ago
Where do I vote?
AcidHawk3 years ago
Thank you, I really like the simplicity of this design.

I realise you only needed 90 degree bends however I sometimes need a more acute angle for some of the brackets I need to make up. I would suggest one thing for consideration ... what about if you made the bench piece that you have the wing-nuts on, a little bigger than the part you use to actually do the bend ... so that the piece you are holding in your hand can actually fit between the wing-nuts... that way you could actually get a bend of less than 90 degrees. (I.e. you bend past 90 degrees for the acute angle I sometimes need.

Nice job though.
ImagineN4tion (author)  AcidHawk3 years ago
Hi AcidHawk, thanks for the suggestions. I think if I build another one of these it will definitely be MUCH larger, employ something similar to your suggestion for more acute angles and have the ability to bend certain areas and not others (like a Box N Pan Brake).

In fact, to get more acute angles with this brake I might just notch out holes for the wing-nuts to slip into.  If so, I will post that mod.  Thanks for spurring thoughts :)
Topcat20213 years ago
Nice work on the brake, I may have to build one for myself as it sure beats using the bench vise for small stuff.
Keep up the good work
ImagineN4tion (author)  Topcat20213 years ago
Hi Topcat2021, thanks for the nice comment. It definitely beats pounding it out with the vice. Funny thing is, I actually went this route because of the lack of a vice in the location I was building. I probably would have just pounded out the parts on the vice to prototype quickly but this is definitely a better long term solution. It will surely see lots of use.
thoraxe3 years ago
An improvement could be to add a slot so the bending handle can be extended to get more leverage for thicker pieces/stronger metal
ImagineN4tion (author)  thoraxe3 years ago
Hi thoraxe, thanks for your suggestion. Yes, extending the lever arm would allow for much healthier bends!
joen3 years ago
One suggestion would be to widen the holes on the flat stock to slots so that you can accommodate different thicknesses of soft metal to bend.
ImagineN4tion (author)  joen3 years ago
Hi Joen, thanks for the suggestion. It sounds like a great next step, especially if combined with thoraxe's suggestion too. Collaborate and innovate.
blkhawk3 years ago
Great project! I have a few pre-drilled L-shaped steel bars like the ones depicted on your Instructable. Thank you for sharing!
ImagineN4tion (author)  blkhawk3 years ago
Hi blkhawk, glad you liked it. Get to it with your extra metal stock! One more project to add to the queue of many :)
kelseymh3 years ago
Most excellent! Building your own jigs is a core skill for any metal- or woodworker. It usually takes longer to create all the jigs you need than it does to actually construct the project at hand. You've done a great job describing a DIY brake!
ImagineN4tion (author)  kelseymh3 years ago
Hi kelseymh, thanks for the comment and support!
strube13693 years ago
Nice project. Incidentally, they call these "metal brakes". Just thought I would mention it...
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