Intro: How to Make Steel Corner Brackets
This instructable will walk you through how to make your own angle corner brackets out of steel. They're great for building or strengthening shelves and table tops; handy if you need something custom; and anyway much cooler (and more available) than the stuff you have to rifle through at the hardware store.
I made these brackets from my own scrap material using the tools at Techshop Detroit (www.techshop.ws)!
P.S. I made these brackets using safe, one-off, garage-shop style procedures. Incorporating jigs, fine-tuned fixtures, and calibrated materials would increase accuracy and efficiency for production. RULE OF THUMB: "Making more than 3? Make a jig for it!"
P.P.S. This is a great example: Drill press repeat drill fence fixture
Step 1: Tools and Materials
This photo features all the tools and materials I used to make the brackets for this instructable. Some tools will be featured in operations that I walk through in other instructables (want to make sure you're using everything properly and safely!)
Again, all tools can be found at Techshop (in case you're not familiar with "center punch" or "Rite Hite clamps.")
- Ruler/straight edge. Get a good steel one, aluminum ones bend, ding, and can even get whittled down accidentally by sharp marking tools.
L to R:
- Scrap angle iron (go for 1/8" thick or more, with sides that are 1" or wider)
- Fine point permanent marker
- Center punch
- Drill bit - one from the hardware store is fine for steel - make sure it's a little bigger than the screws you're using to install the brackets
- Tape Measure
- Wrench and Rite Hite clamps for holding work.
Step 2: Measuring and Marking Length
I made these brackets with an "eyeball method" - estimating sizes but keeping operations consistent.
Decide just about how wide you need your brackets - mark that dimension down in your notebook, so you don't forget - and then measure from the end of your material with a tape measure.
If your material has a rough end, use the square to make a clean, square line across, then mark your length from that.
Use your marker to make just a little stroke mark at your length, then use the square to make a perpendicular line across the material. Put the lines on both "legs" of the material and make sure they go all the way to the edges.
Step 3: Saw Bracket
Now use the bandsaw to cut out your bracket. Notice the angle iron is facing "down" with both legs touching the table. This is a stable way to hold the material.
(Make sure you have a steel-cutting blade installed and that the motor speed is set appropriately.)
Advance your material nice and easily into the blade, let it cut at its own pace. When you get toward the end of your cut, ease up on the pressure so you don't lurch forward when the blade cuts through.
Step 4: Making Multiples
In keeping with our "eyeball method", use that first cut piece to measure and mark subsequent pieces. Line it up with the edge of your material and mark along the edge, remembering that you're making the mark *just outside the edge you're drawing along.* in other words, if you cut right down the middle of that line, your new piece will be just a little longer than the one you marked from. So adjust accordingly.
ALSO, always use that same first piece as a template to mark new brackets. Otherwise you might see your pieces getting longer and longer and longer...
Step 5: Mark Where the Holes Go
Grab one of the brackets. Use your ruler to find the center of the legs on each bracket and then draw a line.
Next, eyeball how far in you want your hole (at LEAST make sure your screw head won't hang over the edge - but put it further inside than that anyway.) Write down the length so you don't have to remember for all the rest of the holes. ;) Make a mark across your center line. So now you'll have 4 evenly spaced cross marks on your material.
*Notice i'm marking INSIDE the legs of the angle iron, this makes it easier to clamp for drilling*
TAKE THE TIME TO MARK ALL OF YOUR BRACKETS AT THE SAME TIME. Moving ahead after only one bracket will mean a lot of pickin' up and puttin' down tools.
Step 6: Center Punch Your Holes
Make center punch marks where you'll drill the holes. Check out my other instructable to get a good idea about how to use this tool (you gotta do it right, right?)
*AGAIN, plan to do these all at the same time. Avoid moving back and forth.*
Step 7: Drill Holes
Bring your material to the drill press. Make sure the motor speed is set for your bit. and material. Locate your first hole under the bit, then clamp your work down securely. Drill!
(Yep, I've got an instructable on this too.)
This is the longest and, let's say, most zen operation of this project. There are a lot of holes to drill! It might be helpful to set up a fence that locates your pieces more quickly under the drill bit. In any case, set aside time to do all your holes at once so you don't have to reset the machine and drag out all the tools again later.
Step 8: CLEAN UP
IF IT'S A SHARED SHOP, CLEAN!
IF IT'S YOUR OWN SHOP, CLEAN!
Sweep/vacuum chips! Put tools where they belong!
You'll thank me. Heck, you'll thank yourself. A neat, well-used shop is a beautiful thing.
Step 9: TA-DAH!
Behold! Four identical homemade brackets!
Holding on to eyeballed measurements and finishing one operation at a time for each part both promote same-ness in your pieces. :)