You can bend sheet metal at home for use in a wide variety of craft projects. Whether you are making a simple tray or a more complex sculpture, the key to bending sheet metal is creating a sheet metal "brake" that will allow you to apply even pressure along the bend. It sounds fancy, but you can be set up to bend sheet metal in about 15 minutes.
With a ruler and a dry-erase marker, mark your sheet metal where you need to place bends. Using a dry-erase marker will allow you to draw on the metal without creating a permanent line that may affect the appearance of the final piece.
Find a sturdy straight edge to bend against. This could be as simple as the edge of a table or bookshelf. It is important that you use something that will not shift and move as you begin to bend the sheet metal but also will allow you to clamp the sheet metal to it.
Clamp your sheet metal to your sturdy straight edge, such as the side of a bookshelf, with your C-clamp by pressing the sheet metal against the bookshelf and laying a 2x2 piece of wood across the metal--in line with the edge of the bookshelf and the line you drew for placing the bend. Then place the C-clamp with one foot on the 2x2 and one on the bookshelf. When you tighten the C-clamp, your sheet metal should be held in place against your straight edge by the force exerted by the C-clamp on the 2x2.
Clamp your other 2x2 so it follows the line you drew but is 1/8-inch to 1/16-inch above it. You do not want anything supporting the other side of the metal. In other words, if you clamped your metal to the side of a bookshelf, this top 2x2 should be placed on the part of the metal that extends over the edge of the bookshelf.
Press the top 2x2 in the direction of the bend you wish to make. Use even and steady pressure while bending the metal. Stop pressing when you have achieved the bend angle you want and remove the clamps and wood.
If the C-clamps holding your top 2x2 in place get in the way of your completing the bend, remove them, hold the 2x2 directly above your bend line and complete the motion.
Never place the foot of a C-clamp directly on sheet metal; the pressure from the clamp can mar and pock the metal, ruining the finish.
Tips and warnings
- If the C-clamps holding your top 2x2 in place get in the way of your completing the bend, remove them, hold the 2x2 directly above your bend line and complete the motion.
- Never place the foot of a C-clamp directly on sheet metal; the pressure from the clamp can mar and pock the metal, ruining the finish.