In the fall of 2012 I made a few things in my shop that required me to bend some sheet metal. My bends were horrible and I really wanted to build a sheet metal brake (something that makes sharp bends in metal). I started thinking of how to build one out of scrap when my father told me he had a very large piece of angle iron that he wasn't using. I decided it was time to start the project and made plans to visit him a few months later (he lives 600 miles away so I couldn't just run down there in one day) to pick up the scrap. Here is how I made the DIY Sheet Metal Brake:



When I picked up the angle iron I found it was a very large piece that had been cut in half. It measured 5.0"x3.5" and around 20' long:



The angle iron was laying in his back yard for more than a decade and was very rusty:



I used a wire wheel on an angle grinder to remove some of the rust and started cutting it into 40.25" sections so it would fit on my welding table:



I needed to build some hinges for the brake so I cut a 3/4" pipe into 1" sections:



I smoothed the edges and sanded them a bit in preparation for welding:



For hinge pins I used some long power plant frame bolts off a Mazda Miata. The OD of the bolts were 0.578" but the ID of the pipe was 0.545" so I needed to break out the lathe:



I cut the bolts down to 3" on the band saw and then turned them down on the lathe. A test fit showed that my pipe would now fit on the pins:



The parts for the hinge are finished:



I needed to cut out a place on my angle iron to hold the hinges. I used a portaband saw for the cuts:



I propped up the angle iron in preparation to weld on the hinges:



I had never made a hinge so I wasn't sure if I needed to put spacers in between the pieces of pipe before welding. I put them in anyway because I thought it was the right thing to do:



The welds don't look the best (here comes my excuse for lousy welds). They were done hastily because I was concerned of getting spatter in between the parts and welding the sections together.



Here comes a mistake made by not thinking far enough ahead. I drilled holes in my hinged part to mount it to the table. I was getting excited to see the hinge in action and did not think about the need to get the clamping section 's holes drilled in exactly the correct place. Now that the first holes were drilled I could not get my clamp mounted and holes drilled:



After getting disgusted and quitting for the day I jumped in the shower and immediately thought of a solution (I do some of my best thinking in the shower). I knew I had to hold the sections together with a perfect gap of 3/16" between the edges (this is where my metal would be bent). My fix was to spot weld the two sections together so they would not move and then flip them upside down for drilling:



Finally, after three days the project was completed. Yes, I could have purchased a brake from Harbor Freight for $240 but I had more fun making it myself:



My first test was to put a 90 degree bend in a piece of scrap aluminum:



The aluminum scrap is sandwiched in between the hinged piece and the clamping section (geez, I really need to learn what the proper terminology of these parts are) with the bolts on each side:



My test bend looks good. The part was a little bent and crooked before starting but the test was successful. I'm not exactly sure what I am going to build with the metal brake but I will post some pictures on this page when the projects are complete:











Note - You are probably seeing missing links to some pictures above. I still use Notepad to create the html code and have a template with plenty of extra references to pictures to save on typing. As I continue the page I will add pictures and descriptions and these missing links will disappear.