Home-Made Metal Brake

Sometimes, the appropriate application of force is the necessary action to solve a problem. Inelegant, perhaps, but bending a piece of metal with precision is difficult without a tool for it. That said, where a maker faces a problem, building a solution swiftly follows; and — if you lack a metal brake like YouTuber [makjosher] — building one of your own can be accomplished in short order.

Drawing from numerous online sources, [makjosher]’s brake is built from 1/8″ steel bar, as well as 1/8″ steel angle. The angle is secured to a 3/4″ wood mounting plate. Displaying tenacity in cutting all this metal with only a hacksaw, [makjosher] carved slots out of the steel to mount the hinges, which were originally flush with the wood. He belatedly realized that they needed to be flush with the bending surface. This resulted in some backtracking and re-cutting. [Makjosher] then screwed the pivoting parts to the wood mount. A Box tube serves as a handle. A coat of paint  finished the project, and adding another tool to this maker’s kit.

While obviously not of the same capacity as industrial brakes — or even some heavier duty models intended for small shop-use — [makjosher]’s brake is compact, and can be set up on virtually any workbench if the situation calls for it. If you find yourself lacking a needed tool for a project, we’ve featured some other home-made tools before — such as this rotary tool, and even a full bandsaw, that may help you out.

[Thanks for the tip, setvir!]

18 thoughts on “Home-Made Metal Brake

    1. Recently brought another portable open metal break from a local hardware store on sale.
      What a deal… the hinges were put on with a 3″ weld that softened things up a bit …
      It can’t even handle 18Ga stainless without splaying open the hinges.

      Unfortunately, sometimes re-building your own tools is the only practical option.

  1. I’m a bad person! My first thought was, “it doesn’t look very substantial” then I watched the slow painful build process, and suddenly realised that makjosher has made a way better brake than the one I’ve been not building over the past 35 years!
    Well done especially for including the hinge alignment cock up, that looks like an easy mistake th make.

    1. Just what I was going to write. While watching the video I thought several times “he could have done this better this other way…”. And then I realized that now HE has a metal brake and I don’t

      1. Great point.

        I think thats kind of the point of posting projects on this page. We all look at it and go “hmm i would done that differently” and then when you build your own, even though you only saw a video of a poorly made one, you now have an idea of the build process that you would use. Experience is experience regardless

  2. Decades later I still miss my high school electronics lab sheet metal chop and breaker. I think this stuff along with the o-scopes and the classes and teacher were dumped when the US moved to prepping for standardized tests and dumped non-college or standardized test facilitating vocational education classes.
    Nice work!

    BTW isn’t it sad that US universities have supplanted trade schools and apprenticeships in providing vocational education leaving all of those who can’t manage a bachelors degree for finance or study reasons down in the minimum wage labor pool.

    1. Locate your nearest community college – most of them have most of this (and a lot of other fun things) at a moderate cost. The one up the street from me has everything from auto mechanics, welding and electronics to an A&P training program.

  3. Instead of adding the dubstep and the graphics, he could have spent the time delivering a concise and eloquent explanation, and more precise in his technical vocabulary.

    1. He could’ve got himself a job at a professional tool manufacturer and hired a professional videographer and editing and production studio as well.
      Or, he could have just not made the video, not made the brake and instead sat in front of his computer eating Cheetos and criticizing someone else’s project.

        1. Well, I really like this kind of project and wish there were more like it instead of the daily shovel full of new ways to blink a thousand LEDs with an Arduino. Useful stuff. Stuff you need to make more stuff you need.
          I could use a sheet metal brake myself.
          Now if only I could find the energy to get up and stop eating Cheetos while sitting in front of my computer reading other peoples projects and criticizing their critics!

  4. We call this a “Pan Brake Bender” here because it can bend sheet. The limitation with this build if the hinges but even so it would do all the bending that I need as I only need to bend thin sheet aluminium.

    Excellent build and it has given me some incentive to make one. The only difference I would make is to weld or bolt the hinges to both pieces of metal.

  5. Admittedly I am being a little judgmental and the guy is free to do what he wants. I’m not judging him for his building this little bender which suits his needs, that’s great. I am judging him for having a rather overpriced Snap on tool box and then suffering through that angle iron with a hack saw. I would have sold that box and come back with the same one in gray from hf and 3 angle grinders to keep from having to use a hacksaw.

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