When working around sheet metal, you will need to become familiar with a sheet metal brake. This tool allows you to bend sheet metal into any shape or angle that you need.
You can make a variety of metal pieces yourself, saving the expense of buying them. Gutters, air ducts, roof and window flashing and drip edges are all projects that can be done with some sheet metal and a sheet metal brake. Working with a sheet metal brake is fairly easy and straightforward as long as you abide by some basic safety precautions.
Step 1: Clear Area
To use a sheet metal brake safely you need an unobstructed area in which to work. Sheet metal can come in large sheets, is sharp and therefore requires room to maneuver. Move anything that will get in your way so you are not tripping over small boxes or other tools.
Step 2: Layout Marking on Sheet
Before doing any bends mark out the areas to bend first. This will save you from having to handle the sheet metal too many times moving it in and out of the brake. Once the markings are complete, you would want to make any necessary cuts to the sheet metal. Once the bends are made, it is impossible to make any cuts without damaging the metal.
Step 3: Have Help with Large Sheets
Sheet metal can come in 4 by 8 foot sheets. While the metal is not heavy itself, it is flimsy. Moving it around, and getting it situated on the brake, might require the use of a second pair of hands. Ask for help to safely use the metal brake.
Step 4: Open Sheet Metal Brake
The sheet metal brake is a simple machine to operate. You simply lay the sheet metal between the two clamps and pull a lever. However, that does not mean you should take it lightly. Open the brake with the lever on the side. Make sure the lever is secure before placing the sheet metal inside the clamps. Keep your hands free of the clamps.
Step 5: Line up Marks
Line up the marks on the sheet metal with the edges of the clamps. Line up the sheet metal so that the metal will bend away from you.
Step 6: Begin Bending Sheet Metal
Slowly raise the lever to carefully bend the sheet metal. There should be a gauge on the side of the brake that will tell you the angle of the bend. If you need a 90-degree angle to your bend, then slowly lift the lever until you reach the 90-degree mark. Leave it there for a minute and then release the lever.
Step 7: Remove Sheet Metal
Once you have made the bend, remove the sheet metal and make sure it is on your mark. If your bend is correct, you can move onto the next bend until you have completed the project.