How to Bend Aluminum Sheet Metal


Aluminum is a soft, lightweight, brittle metal that is easily damaged. When mechanical force is applied to the aluminum sheet, heat builds up. If the pressure is too much, the bend will crack and the piece will be ruined. When you use a brake to place a bend in aluminum, it is important to set the brake properly to allow a sufficient amount of room for the thickness of the metal. Proper brake settings will make or break your aluminum project.

Things You'll Need

  • Aluminum
  • Center punch
  • Hammer
  • Hand brake
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Angle finder

Placing a 90-Degree Bend in 1/8-Inch Aluminum

  • Mark the location of the bend on both sides of the aluminum sheet. Place a small punch mark on each line with a center punch and a hammer.

  • Measure the distance between the top clamping leaf of the hand brake and the bending leaf in the flat position. Increase the distance to 5/32 of an inch by turning the adjustment screw on the back of the hand brake with the adjustable wrench.

  • Align the punch marks with the front edge of the clamping leaf. Pull the clamping leaf handles to hold the metal in place.

  • Lift the bending leaf, applying slight pressure to the aluminum. Release the bending leaf to inspect the bend area of the aluminum. Look for small stress cracks along the entire length of the bend.

  • Raise the bending leaf to a point that looks close to 90 degrees, taking care not to overbend the metal. Measure the angle with the angle finder. Add more pressure to the aluminum if the bend is less than 90 degrees.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you overbend the aluminum sheet, remove the sheet from the brake and apply light hand pressure to the bend to lighten the brake point.
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