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Are you still bending metal using the old fashioned clamp and mallet method? You need a break — a metal bending brake that is! Brake-bending metal is superior to manual bending methods for two main reasons: you’ll end up with a cleaner and straighter bend, and you can skip the tiresome pounding session entirely.

A basic brake — like the above-pictured made-in-the-USA 18″ model by BAC — is capable of bending and forming 18-gauge mild steel or 16-gauge aluminum sheets. And they’re easy to operate: first, clamp your sheet metal between the supplied straightedge and the stationary support. Then lift the handles at both ends of the brake to rotate the pivot bar about its axis to bend the sheet metal. It works best if you mount the brake to your worktable, but clamps also work well in most situations.


Street pricing for an 18″ model starts at about $28, and a 30″ model is also available. Unless it’s mentioned otherwise, entry-level brakes do not come with the two or so C-clamps that are required. You can buy more sophisticated brakes with features such as foot-operated mechanisms and individual clamping fingers for increased uniformity, but they’re much more pricey.

Bending and Forming Tools [BAC]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
18″ Bending Brake [Harbor Freight]
30″ Bending Brake [Harbor Freight]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]


One Response to Give Yourself A Brake

  1. abob says:

    another alternative to the mallet: the biggest, thickest T-strap hinge you can find, a 4×4 post, and a bench vise. Bolt the long arm of the hinge to one end of the 4×4, then clamp the hinge behind your workpiece in the vise so that your the pin of the hinge is just above the jaws of the vise. You (well, anyway, me) at the other end of 5ft of post = enough torque to bend 3 inch wide 8 gauge mild steel about 90 degrees. It’s also enough torque to eventually bend or break the hinge or cause other disasters, so don’t be under the post while you’re bending, and wrap a towel around the hinge/vise in case of shrapnel.

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