Homemade sheet metal bender

Written by elizabeth sobiski
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Homemade sheet metal bender
Create uniform angles with a sheet metal bender. (Dynamic Graphics Group/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images)

Often found in machine shops, sheet metal benders, or brakes, are used for bending sheet metal to the angle needed. Going to a machine shop can be quite a chore, and potentially expensive for the home hobbyist. The alternative is to make your own metal bender, a good way to have a bender when you need it and not as expensive as buying a new one. This bender can be made from materials found at home improvement or hardware stores, and is mounted to a workbench.

Skill level:
Challenging

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Things you need

  • Work table, at least 6 feet long
  • 1-by-4 wooden board, 6 feet long
  • Wood screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • Drill and bits
  • 3 pieces of 3-inch by 3-inch angle iron, six feet long
  • Clamps
  • Piano hinge, 6 feet long
  • Rivet gun
  • Stainless steel pop rivets
  • Four bolts, 2 inches by 1/4 inch, 8 flat washers, 4 stop nuts
  • 8 feet of 1 1/4-inch square steel tubing
  • Two bolts, 3 inches by 1/4 inch, 4 flat washers, 2 stop nuts
  • Four bolts, 3 inches by 3/8 inch, 8 flat washers, 4 lock washers, 4 nuts

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Screw the 1-by-4 board to the underside of the work table. This reinforces the edge, and gives more stability to the bender.

  2. 2

    Using one section of the angle iron as the bottom plate, line it up on the edge of the work table. Place it so the angle is toward the outside, as if wrapping around the edge of the table. Drill six evenly spaced pilot holes, then screw into place with wood screws. Be sure to countersink these screws, otherwise any metal being bent will get scratched.

  3. 3

    Place another section of angle iron on top of the previously installed piece so that the opening faces the edge of the table. Set this piece back away from the edge of the bottom plate by approximately 1/8 inch. Hold in place with clamps.

  4. 4

    Measure in 1 1/2 inches from each end and make a mark. Make two more marks evenly spaced between the first marks. Drill on the marks, all the way through the plates, table and reinforcing board. Install the 3/8-inch bolts, washers, lock washers and nuts.

  5. 5

    Mark the centre on the piano hinge, and remove the pin from the hinge. Mark the centre of the last piece of angle iron on the outside bend. This last piece of iron is the bend plate. Line up the marks on the hinge and the iron. Rivet the hinge into place, with a 60mm gap between rivets.

  6. 6

    Center the other half of the hinge on the bottom plate of the bender. Line up the bend plate with the bottom plate, so that if they are looked at from the side, it would look like a T. Make sure the hinge pieces line up correctly with the bend plate before riveting the loose piece into place. Also ensure that the hinge is just level with the top surface of the bottom plate. Rivet into place, using the same spacing as before. Replace the hinge pin.

  7. 7

    Cut two 18-inch sections from the square tubing. Lay the two pieces on a work surface, both at approximately a 60 degree angle towards each other at the top. Lay the remaining piece on top, running across from side to side on the narrow end. This is the handle for the bender. Make a mark where the tubing overlaps and drill holes for the 3-inch bolts to go through. Connect with the bolts, washers and nuts so that it is snug but not overly tight.

  8. 8

    Hold the handle up to the bend plate so that the end of the tubing is on the inside angle of the plate. At this point, the top of the handle is facing the floor. Make two marks on the tubing where it overlaps the bend plate. These are for the 2-inch bolts, and hold the tubing in place on the bend plate. Drill through the tubing, then make marks on the bend plate, and drill again. Bolt everything together with the bolts, washers and nuts. With this in place, go through and make sure all bolts and nuts are secure and snug. The bender is now ready to be used.

Tips and warnings

  • Have another set of hands to help get the hinge pin into place. A little oil can also be used.
  • Loosen the 3/8-inch bolts to slide sheet metal into place. Tighten bolts with metal in place to hold it securely. If more space is needed for wider metal, the middle bolts can be removed. Just be sure to replace them when finished.

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