How to Make a Metal Brake

Metal brakes are used to bend sheet metal. Commercial metal brakes can be costly and more than a homeowner can afford for his home shop. A homemade metal brake made from angle irons can perform the same bending precision as many commercially-sold metal brakes at a fraction of the price. A homemade metal brake also can be customized to accommodate the size of sheet metal being bent.

Things You'll Need

  • Circular saw
  • 1-by-4-inch board
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws
  • 3 angle irons, 3-by-3-by-1/4 inch
  • Drill
  • C-clamps
  • Carbon drill bits
  • 2 bolts, 1/4-by-3-inch
  • 4 Lock washers and nuts
  • 6-foot-by-2-inch piano hinge
  • Rivets
  • Rivet gun
  • 1/4-inch square tubing
  • 4 bolts, 1/4-by-2-inch
  • Stop nuts
  • Adjustable wrench

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Cut the 1-inch by 4-inch board to the length of the table edge where the metal brake will be attached.

Spread wood glue over one of the 4-inch sides of the board and position the board so it is flush against the edge of the bench on the underside. Insert wood screws through the board and into the bottom of the workbench to secure it in place.

Position one of the pieces of angle iron over the edge of the bench so that it covers the edge of the bench. Hold this piece in position with C-clamps and drill mounting holes through the angle iron and the work bench. The number of mounting holes will depend on the length of the metal brake. Use a drill to insert countersink wood screws into the drilled holes.

Place another piece of angle iron on top of the bottom piece. Position the second piece so that the open part of the angle is facing the edge of the bench. Leave a 1/8-inch space from the edge of the top iron and the edge of the bottom iron. Hold the pieces of angle iron in place with C-clamps.

Drill holes through the two pieces of angle iron, bench and support board underneath on both ends of the angle bar. This will require a sharp carbon drill bit. Carbon drill bits are harder and can stand up to the wear of drilling through metal.

Insert a 3-inch bolt into the top of each drilled hole; use your fingers to secure it on the underside of the bench with a lock washer and nut. These bolts will be loosened when the brake is used, so don't tighten the nut and bolts completely.

Mark the center point of the metal brake and the center point of the piano hinge. Position the hinge against the bottom angle iron secured to the table. Make sure that the edge of the hinge is flush with the bottom piece of metal. Mark the hole locations.

Pre-drill the holes for the rivets. Realign the hinge with the drilled holes and secure it in place with rivets. Position the third angle iron so that it mirrors the bottom angle iron mounted on the work bench. Mark the hole locations of the hinge and pre-drill the holes. Return the angle iron into position and use rivets to secure this side of the brake in place. If possible, have a helper hold the iron in place while connecting the hinge.

Close the metal brake and drill holes through the ends of the back of the hinged side of the metal brake. Drill two holes on each side using a 1/4-inch drill bit.

Drill two 1/4-inch holes through the end of the 1 1/4-inch square tubing. Align the holes in the tubing with the holes on the metal brake and insert 2-inch bolts. Secure the bolts with stop nuts and tighten with a wrench. Repeat this process on the other side of the metal brake to assemble the brake handles.


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