/ / How to make a simple metal brake to bend metal

How to make a simple metal brake to bend metal

A tutorial on how to make a simple metal brake to bend shelf brackets at home.

Would you like to save money on shelf brackets? Or maybe you’re like me and want a shelf bracket that you can’t purchase. Either way I have a solution to save you money and create the perfect shelf bracket for your space. The solution is a metal brake and in this tutorial I am sharing how to make a simple metal brake you can use at home.

DIY metal bending at home

There are many ways to make a metal brake. The two tutorials I used to create my metal brake was this Simple Sheet Metal Brake: No Welding Tutorial and How to make a metal brake by I Like to Make Stuff. But because I do not have fancy saws to cut metal and I’m a beginner, I made my metal brake even simpler where the only metal cuts are straight cuts, no cutting at an angle.

I would recommend making this metal brake if you are just starting out (beginner) and not looking at bending tons of metal. Just some brackets here and there for around the house. If you want something that will be used all the time make your brake like the two tutorials linked above.

Also, this metal brake will only bend metal up to 1/8″ thick.

WHAT’S THE COST?

supplies to make a metal brake

I would like to address the cost of creating this metal bending tool. First, I am assuming you are a beginner, having only a drill and wood cutting saw, none of the tools need to work with metal.

Your total cost will be around $55, this includes all the basic tools needed (a hand saw).

The cost of just material is around $25.

So for around $55, you can have your way to bend metal at home plus have the tools needed to work with metal. Now let me share how to make a metal brake.

HOW TO MAKE A SIMPLE METAL BRAKE

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, click here to read my full disclosure policy

 SUPPLIES:

TOOLS:

EXTRA TOOLS: 

Find the list of tools we use.

Before I begin my tutorial, I would recommend watching the two videos in the links I provided above (the tutorials I used to base how to make my brake) these videos will help you understand what I am talking about. Sorry, I forgot to create my own video.

Also, my images might be slightly different then what I am explaining. Anything different is what I would recommend doing different from the metal brake I made, so if I make another brake, this is how I would make it.

STEP 1: CUTTING THE METAL AND WOOD

TIP: Use clamps to hold the metal in place while cutting.

flat steel bar for metal brake

Cut the 1-1/2″ metal bar to these measurements: 12.5″, 12.5″, and 11″ using the hacksaw.

SIDE NOTE: You will be only making two cuts to give you the three measurements.

cutting metal with hacksaw

TIP: After cutting one piece, make sure to use the metal file to make the metal edges not sharp.

Then cut the 3/8″ steel round rod to these measurements: 8″ and 8″ using the hacksaw again. Also, file the ends to remove the sharp edges.

SIDE NOTE: The hacksaw is the slow way to cut metal but it will give you a clean cut.

Now cut the 2″x4″ board to these measurements: 23.5″ and 19.5″ using a miter saw. These are different sizes so you can clamp the longer board down.

SIDE NOTE: You can have the hardware store cut the board for you.

STEP 2: INSTALLING THE HINGES

Place the two pieces of 2×4 boards onto a flat surface and clamp the two boards together so that there is a 2″ space between both ends. See image below for example.

Then take the door hinges and place them onto the boards. The middle of the hinges will be where the two boards come together, and the hinges will be 1/4″ away from the edge of the smaller board.

attach door hinges to wood

After the hinges are centered, mark the screw holes with a pencil. Then pre-drill the marked areas with a 1/8″ drill bit. Then attach the hinges with the provided screws.

STEP 3: ATTACHING THE FLAT METAL PIECES

TIP: Place scrap 2×4’s under the boards to raise the brake so clamps can clamp the metal to the brake.

You are now going to attach the two 12.5″ flat metal pieces to the boards. These will be placed between the hinges with a gap of 1/4″ from both hinges. The metal will be attached at the edge of each board. Clamp the metal to the boards.

With the metal clamped in place, take the 11/64″ drill bit and drill holes at the end of each metal piece.

attach metal to wood

SIDE NOTE: You can get away with two screws per metal piece (one per side) but four would be better (two per side).

TIP: Use a shop-vac while drilling to help with the cleanup.

Then secure the metal to the boards using the 1″ metal to wood screws.

TIP: Drill one hole, secure into place with the screw then move to the next one.

STEP 4: PLACING THE TOP PLATE

This metal piece is your last flat metal piece (11″) that will sit on top of one of the previously installed metal. It will be placed on the metal piece that is secured to the longer board.

But before it can be placed, you need to drill 5/16″ holes into the ends. Clamp the metal onto a scrap board then create two holes close to each end (about 1/2″ away from ends), using a 5/16″ metal drill bit.

TIP: Use a shop-vac to keep the metal shaving contained.

Once the holes are created, take the piece back to the brake. For my metal brake, I will be bending 1/8″ metal so I will need a gap of 1/8″ between the already secured metal pieces.

To give you this gap you can use a 1/8″ piece of metal (this is what I did see image below for example) or you can measure and mark 1/8″ away from the inside edge (where the boards come together). Remember this metal piece is being placed on the longer board.

TIP: If you are measuring and marking, mark in at least three spots (ends and middle).

1/8" gap between metal

Clamp the 11″ metal piece so that it sits between the screws on the longer board and 1/8″ away from the edge of the bottom metal.

Once the metal piece is clamped and not moving, drill a 5/16″ hole using the 5/16″ metal drill bit through the already drill 5/16″ hole through the bottom metal piece and wood board. Complete this step for the other previous 5/16″ hole too.

When both holes are drilled unclamp the metal and flip the brake so the wood bottom is facing up.

Take the 3/4″ spade bit and drill into the just drilled 5/16″ holes about 1/2″ deep. This is done so the carriage bolt will be inset and the boards can sit flush on a surface.

carriage bolt

After insert the carriage bolts into the holes and flip the brake back over.

Then place the 11″ metal piece through the bolts, add a washer, and wing nut tighten into place. This setup is for larger pieces of metal (sheet metal).

metal sheet brake

You will want to drill two more 5/16″ holes that are closer to the middle. You will want about 3″ to 3-1/2″ between these new holes. These will be used with smaller metal pieces 2″ and smaller.

Because your two metal pieces are already tightened together, you just need to drill two 5/6″ holes using the 5/16″ drill bit again (drilling through two metal pieces and wood board). Then use the 3/4″ spade bit for under the board. You will now have multiple options of what size of metal to bend, just move the carriage bolts around.

STEP 5: ADDING THE HANDLES

The 8″ steel round rod pieces are your handles for the brake. These will be removable in this design. All you need to do is drill 3/8″ holes on the 2″ side of the smaller wood board.

You want these handles about the distance of your metal pieces (no more than your shoulder width) and about 1-1/2″ deep. Use a 3/8″ wood drill bit to drill two holes 1-1/2″ deep.

Then insert the rods into the holes.

simple metal brake

Your metal brake is now complete!

SIDE NOTE: If you would like you can paint it!

THINGS I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY

Here is a list of things I would recommend doing if I created a new metal brake. These changes are in the step-by-step tutorial above. I just wanted to share my changes.

  1. I would use 3/16″ flat metal, I used 1/8″ in my brake and the top plate has slightly bowed after multiple uses.
  2. Cut the 1-1/2″ flat bar two times, instead of three. It takes awhile to cut using a hacksaw so less cuts would be fantastic!
  3. Only two screws per metal piece (step 3).

And that’s it for the changes.

how to bend metal at home

I hope this DIY tutorial helps you make a simple metal brake you can use to bend metal at home!

how to make a metal brake to bend metal