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I love working with metal, but I've always struggled to get perfect 90° bends. Generally, I'll stick the piece to be bent in the vise and smack it around until it's bent. Since it almost always bends crooked, I end up rebending - and generally just making a mess of it.

For my next project I was going to need to bend some cardboard, which inspired me to first tackle a bending brake. Since I knew I would end up bending things much harder than cardboard in the future, I designed the brake to handle thin aluminum and steel.

Inspiration for the design came from several other DIY brakes, such as this one by Improbable Construct and one by the Youtuber JDCD Design. Since I don't have easy access to a welder (and also try to avoid welding as I'm not terribly great at it), I modified the design to make it weld-free.

Step 1: What I Used

I used the following items for this build:

(1) 1/8" x 1.5" x 1.5" x 4' Steel Angle

(1) 1/8" x 2" x 3' Steel Plate

(1) 1/2" x 3' Steel Box

(1) 3/4" x 2.5" x 6' Dimensioned Board

(2) Hinges

(6) 1" x 5/16" Cap Screws

(6) 5/16" Lock Nuts

(10) 1" Drywall Screws

(2) 5/16" Wing Nuts

(2) 5/16" Washers

(2) 5/16" x 2.5" Carriage Bolts

(4) #10 x 1" Flat Head Machine Screws

(4) #10 Nuts

Wood Glue

Spray Paint Primer

Blue Spray Paint

I used the following tools for this build:

(Note that these links were made using my Amazon Affiliates account. I get a small commission if you buy anything on Amazon using my links. You pay the same price and are helping support me in sharing projects like these. Thanks!)

Hacksaw (not mine but similar): http://amzn.to/2cKr0Ei

Drill: http://amzn.to/2coO6yP

Circular Saw: http://amzn.to/2cp0gHU

Miter Saw: http://amzn.to/2cKrZnO

Dremel (a newer version of mine): http://amzn.to/2cu8Qn7

Drill Bits (not mine, but I like these): http://amzn.to/2coPscS

Forstner Bits (a larger set like mine): http://amzn.to/2dh66Zi

Metal File (similar to mine): http://amzn.to/2db0ALr

Box Wrenches: http://amzn.to/2db0BPR

Allen Keys (not mine, but the same thing): http://amzn.to/2ctX2RM

<p>Is there any offset between the edge of the plate and the edge of the hold down angle iron to accommodate for the thickness of the material? </p><p>what is the thickest material you can bend with this brake?</p>
Defnititly unpractractical for the diy person.
&quot;Defnititly unpractractical?&quot; Sounds like someone had a little TOO MUCH holiday cheer! Lolol
<p>It's hardly impractical if you need a metal brake.</p>
<p>Haha. Agreed!</p>
<p>Have you read</p><p>Build your own metal working shop from Scrap Series by David J. Gingery</p><p>It is 7 books in the series, book 7 is on Sheet metal Brake.</p>
<p>I haven't. I'll have to check it out. Thanks!</p>
Very nice and easy to understand. A small brake is something I've wished for. A couple of suggestions, if you decide to rebuild, or up size. I'd splurge on some hardwood, rather than pine, much stronger, but I'd stay with 2 or more pieces laminated, less likely to warp on you. And I'd use T-nuts inset slightly on the underside (I use a speedbore type bit, with the outer points ground off to match the cutting angle. Much stronger than screws. <br>thanks for sharing.
<p>Thanks for the suggestions. Most likely I will end up changing the mounting configuration in the future so I'll keep your ideas in mind.</p>
<p>Could you please provide a detailed cross section. Your opening picture would have helped except it does not show the entire end. Thx</p>
<p>I apologize for this taking so long, but here is a cross-sectional drawing of the side of the brake. Hopefully this helps :-)</p>
<p>Just what I needed - thx</p>
My friend has built similar device to yours, but it can bend black metal sheet up to 2,5 mm of its thickness and up to 400 mm of sheet's span... Sure, welding has been deployed there thoroughly and intensively. A pair of tube arms of about 1 meter with a crosspiece (a kind of semi-frame is formed by them) is necessary to operate it at its maximum load. My friend produces solid fuel boilers for house heating systems and this bending press is necessary for him in his day to day business... Thanks for the video! I do love metal bending / pressing (with a help of my hydraulic cylinder) and I consider it to be a kind of art... ))
<p>Thanks! It sounds like your friend needed something a tad more sturdy, which I'm sure it is. Maybe someday I should test the limits of my rig - although I'd hate to have to make it all over again.</p>
<p>You are good! Working entirely by hand like that is not so easy. No bench, no vise, no drill press. Crouched on the floor hacking away, you did very well. I'm sure you have dreams of a spacious well equipped workshop.</p>
<p>Thanks! Right now I'm just dreaming of a workbench :-) It's actually my next project on the list.</p>
<p>Very cool. Approx cost to build? Thanks.</p>
<p>Great question! I looked through my receipts and the total came to around $33 without the paint.</p>
<p>Nice job. You could sharpen up the bending radius a bit by flattening off the edge of the hold-down angle!</p>
<p>Good point. At this point I find that it bends sharp enough for my needs, but I'll keep this in mind.</p>
<p>You might want to invest into a 4 1/2&quot; hand held angle grinder. You can get thin metal &amp; masonary cutting disks for it as well as grinding wheels of all types, flap wheels, diamond cutting wheels &amp; etc. It's a lot faster then using a hacksaw and even safer, as long as your cautious</p>
The 4 1/2&quot; grinder is the next step up the tool evolution ladder. It's only limited by your imagination. Necessary is the mother of invention. Great job!!
<p>I like my 7/9&quot; grinders the best. But i do have some 4.5&quot; ones too.</p>
<p>That's quite the collection of angle grinders! 9&quot; are quite beastly! Make my 7.5&quot; miter saw look tiny.</p>
<p>I totally agree! It's on my list of tools to purchase next. I was even thinking it'd be cool to make on into a mini chop saw.</p>
<p>Nice work! I have one suggestion, get a sawzall. </p>
<p>Haha. Yea, or maybe this thing: <a href="http://amzn.to/2cUzPva">http://amzn.to/2cUzPva</a>. If I were to build a nice stand for it it would be a semi-portable metal-cutting bandsaw.</p>
<p>What you really want is a 4x6 horizontal/vertical bandsaw. They're cheap.</p>
<p>If only I had a place to put it... Yea well, future plans I guess. </p>
Check out Swag Off Road for well designed portable band saw stands: <br>www.swagoffroad.com/SWAG-V30-Portaband-Table
<p>Those are nice stands! I like to build stuff though ;-)</p>
<p>Great article. You could always get a metal off-cut blade for your mitre saw instead of hacksawing?</p>
<p>I should look into that. It would sure make the straight cuts easier.</p>
<p>If I had to hack saw through metal stock I think I'd hang up metalworking. Or take it up on a much more scaled back level. I love my 4x6 band saw! I've cut railroad track in half with it.</p><p>Making a finger brake is on my list of things to do someday. But it isn't high priority, so it has to wait. You're roughing it. The first brake I made was pretty rough too. I even welded it. Heck I burnt the holes in it with a cutting torch. Because back then that's all I had.</p>
<p>Haha. I thought the same thing years ago when I had the pleasure of using a bandsaw. Yea well, you make do with what you got I guess - that's part of the fun of it.</p>
<p>Yeah you have to use what you have. You would not want to try to hacksaw through something like this </p><p><a href="http://i.imgur.com/QsCXj.jpg">http://i.imgur.com/QsCXj.jpg</a></p><p><a href="http://i.imgur.com/YvLQO.jpg">http://i.imgur.com/YvLQO.jpg</a></p>
<p>I would not. Looks like an interesting project there!</p>
<p>I was just splitting the piece of track with a buddy of mine.</p>
<p>I think you might can make this one into a finger brake by cutting some back angles to the length you need and have some bolt holes every 2&quot; to change out back angle.</p>
<p>I agree. It seems like the thickness limit of my current clamping angle is around 1/16&quot;. Although, I'm not 100% sure how thick I could bend anyways. I think the weak point of the brake is the handles, which could be easily upgraded if need be.</p>
<p>Dude.. you gonna cut your hands someday, the way you were cutting horizontly. Nice watch BTW.</p>
<p>Haha. Maybe if I upgrade from a handsaw.</p>
<p>First upgrade should be an angle grinder, you gonna save hours.. and days</p><p>;)</p>
<p>Haha. Agree. I was just scoping them out at Lowe's this morning.</p>
<p>I have one of Harbor Freight's &quot;Professional&quot; angle grinders. It is OK. It is no Metabo. But for the price I can buy about 6 HF grinders.</p>
<p>Great piece of work! I made a similar one a year or two back using using pieces of Dexion style racking. It's not entirely straight so the bends are a little off, and I pop-rivetted the hinges to one of the pieces, and they tend to move slightly. But it just about does the job, way better than the &quot;vice and bash&quot; method anyway. I can see your build is infinitely better. Screwing the hinges down to my bottom piece of wood is one idea I'm definitely taking! Maybe one day I'll get some angle iron from somewhere...</p>
<p>Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. So far I'm excited that I don't need to use the vice anymore. :-)</p>
<p>i recommend using metal spring a to help raise the plate.</p>
<p>I actually wanted to do this, but I didn't find suitable springs any at Lowe's when I was getting the parts for this, so I decided to skip it for the time being. They would be easy to add at any point.</p>
<p>Chunks of closed cell packaging foam would work as springs.</p>

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Bio: As long as I can remember I've been building stuff. I think it's high time I shared these projects.
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