Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sheet Metal Bending Brake

Carol Dekle-Foss
Hello everyone! For today's post I am going to share a cool technique I picked up in one of my metalmith classes. It's a fun and easy way to create unique borders in your designs. I use the 18" bending brake from Harbor Freight. There is also this one available from Northern Tools, or if you are feeling extra crafty, you could make your own. You can find tons of tutorials online.

This is a bracelet I made for myself. It represents the Polar and Subtropical jet streams. I know, weird right?  I live here in California, and I have been watching our rivers and lakes over the last couple of months become the lowest I have ever seen them. So now I'm constantly looking up, hoping to see a storm front coming in or even a few reassuring clouds. I even did a little weather research and then became fascinated by our jet streams, and how they affect our weather worldwide.

So there you have it, a jet stream bracelet! Yep, I'm pretty much inspired by anything.

Let me share with you how to use the bending brake to create a border.
Parts list
Bending brake
Four clamps
Sheet metal

Here is my bending brake clamped down to my workbench. I like it clamped down instead of bolted because when I'm done, I just store it away in a cupboard.

First, mark the metal where you want it bent. Then align perfectly along the edge where the brake will be lifted. 

Then place the metal bar on top of your piece and clamp it down tightly. 

Now lift! Duh, I realized I should have placed the clamps closer to the piece for a better lift. I also realized having the piece closer to an edge helps too. 

Also, be sure to anneal your piece first, to get a nice crisp line.

Now, lay your piece perpendicular to a solid surface (I used the bending brake) and lightly hammer down the border. You can use the channel to place something into it and then hammer down. Fabric? An etched piece? Lot's of design possibilities here.

Then, place on a metal surface and hammer the border down. Looking at this picture I realize my steel block is quite pathetic. Maybe I should have purchased a bigger one instead of a bending brake!

After hammering, you can then add a unique texture to your border.

Here is the cuff bracelet I made in class.

The bending brake is just another tool that you can add to your studio arsenal. I've only used it a couple of times but it's nice to have. I'm sure there are a ton of design possibilities. Let me know if you decide to get one and what you are going to use it for.

I hope this post inspires you to create something!


Unknown said...

Cool! My husband uses one for siding. I never thought of a jewelry sized one! I really love the jet stream cuff....beautiful

Marsha of Marsha Neal Studio said...

This is Cool! Did you find that you had to sand down the edges of the metal before bending it? Just a thought that popped into my mind.

I love that you are also learning and seeing as you are creating! Such a great way to grow and find one's style :)

Stay safe out there in CA! Hope there is relief on the way...

SmallCraftAdvisor said...

I ♡ your technique & ideas! Thanks for sharing them!

Patti Vanderbloemen said...

That bracelet is amazing...the color...swoon! I had no idea how to put that edging on the metal...I am off to shop for yet another new tool! Thank you for the links!!!,

Linda - said...

I loved reading your post Carol and had never heard of this tool. I shared your story on my blog, I hope you don't mind.

Barry said...

Hi C - that is a very useful bit of gear - just the thing for fold forming. Thanks for sharing. B

Carol Dekle said...

Thank you everyone!

Marsha, I did file and sand the edges before I started folding the edge. Not my favorite thing to do but necessary.

Carla said...

Love the fern pattern on your class cuff bracelet. In the photo it looks like it has a yellow cast. Did you add color?
So many tools to play with. ....I need a bigger bench space!

Bobby Brown said...

Terra Rustica design for thee bangle is simple so amazing and awesome possible through sheet metal process. all others are pretty as well, your blog is simple awesome :)

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