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How to Bend Steel Using a Brake

The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing?

Kevin Caron: I'm here in the studio using a brake to make a box from a small piece of sheet metal.

This is a brake. Have you ever used a brake? Come here, I'll show you.

It's really a neat tool for bending metal. It's got a jaw that opens up so you can get the metal inside (don't put your finger in there!). These fingers will come down and trap your metal in there.

Here it's got a table that moves, also a little lip on the front that moves. And that's how you get your bend.

The Voice: What's the value of it? Why do you use that machine instead of just doing it by hand?

Kevin Caron: I don't know about you, but my grip's not quite that strong. Come on over here...notice the nice 90-degree bend right there. It's real smooth, with a real tiny radius on it. If I tried to do that by hand, it would wind up kind of lumpy. It would wind up crooked and very uneven. It would look like you did it by hand rather than in a machine.

You can clamp in the vise, bend it over that way if your metal is standing up. You could also clamp it to your workbench, take a hammer and pound it down, if you had a nice, sharp edge on the end of your workbench. Or, you get a brake.

Using the brake, I can do this edge, then come back and do that edge. But then you?ll notice that if I put this part in here, these two sides that I just bent upward will hit here, so you simply take out one of the fingers. You can match it up to, well, this finger's about the right size of the work on this width.

So, I come in here and just play dentist and pull a couple of teeth. Then come back in, line it up again and I've got a nice, even bend; a nice, straight corner. It would help if I lined it up so that it came out the same length. Then I could just come back and weld all the edges.

You could leave an extra tab on there so after you bend this up, you bend the tab over and rivet it, bolt it, weld it - whichever way you want to do it.

Then you think, "OK, I can bend it up that way; can I do anything else with it?" Sure you can. Here, I'm putting a foot on it that way, allowing me to come back and bend my edges back up; bend my sides back up.

Now I've got a foot here where I could put a top on it. I could turn it over, or I could bolt it down, or weld it down. Or I could have a box; put a piece of machinery on it or something like that.

It's a great, handy little tool. It saves a lot of time and a lot of effort. It does nice, neat corners. There?s a stop in the bottom where you can adjust it to whatever degree of bend that you want, so it's repeatable; you can sit here and make them all the same.

It's a great little tool, a handy thing to have.

See you next time.

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