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Topic: Just picked up a metal bender from Harbor Freight.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Mar 26, 2011 10:06PM)
$85 compact metal bender, on clearance for $54- seemed like a pretty good deal. Now, if I can figure out how to use it, I can make a whole bunch of cool things.

Any advice (or web links) on how to use one of these? Especially on bending metal to near 360 degrees to make hinges? That's the first stopping block in a few things I've got planned...
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Mar 27, 2011 04:52AM)
There is a knack at using a metal bender. I was at Abbott's Magic workshop once when Bud West was there. A friend of mine bought an Abbott's Visible Sawing and wanted corner protectors on the edges. Bud walked over picked up a small piece of brass, went to this bender, clamped it bent, clamped bent, clamped it bent. In less then 5 minutes he had made 2 corner protectes and the fit perfectly. I was trule amazed!
Message: Posted by: ClintonMagus (Mar 27, 2011 07:13AM)
There was a discussion on here several months back about Harbor Freight sheet metal brakes. You might do a search for a post by Michael Baker.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 27, 2011 01:47PM)
Don't go on what I said, because I bought the super cheap brake. Mine has a clamping bar that is a completely separate piece that must be lined up by sight and locked down with C-clamps... not the ideal way to do things.

Also, if anyone has the knowlege on bending to make hinges, as mentioned above, I'd like that info, too. Sometimes it makes better sense to have the hinge as part of two parts of the prop, rather than as an add-on piece.
Message: Posted by: ggarcia (Mar 27, 2011 10:26PM)
I've been looking for a good economical bender. I just looked on HF's site and I see they three benders. which one did you get?
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Mar 27, 2011 10:49PM)
The compact one that mounts on your workbench directly. I don't know if it was only my location that had it on clearance- I went to a brick-and-mortar store that's fairly close by, and can't say if you can get the same deal on the web. I do go there from time to time just to look around; sometimes they have things that you won't find at Home Depot or OSH.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 27, 2011 11:15PM)
Looks like you and I got the same brake, although by price you probably have the 30". Mine is 18".

The down side is how you clamp down for the bend. It can be tricky keeping the piece in alignment while also lining up the clamping bar. I think in some cases some double stick tape would become a worthwhile third hand.

This afternoon, I bought a piece of flat bar stock at Lowes which I intend to cut into shorter lengths. This will allow me to jig the brake for making perpendicular bends, like are necessary for things like Die Box shells.
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Mar 28, 2011 07:16AM)
I am not sure what you are asking about on making the hinges, Is this to make fingers on the brake or what.

I have a bar folder which is good for straight longer bends. Mine is up to 30" long.

A box or finger brake is used to make compound bends in two directions like a die box shell.

One of the best things you can do if you want to learn sheet metal work is get some older high school shop books. They teach (often) how to layout and bend the metal. You can find them at used book sales at libraries or thrift stores. There are also several books on cd-rom that are sold on ebay.

Not many guys work in sheet metal because the tools are so expensive. I am lucky I have all my tools already. A few things I wish I had but it is hard to justify the expense for such limited use.

Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Mar 28, 2011 09:25AM)
Michael, not sure we're talking about the same thing- I finally went over to their website. I think you're looking at Item #67240 in their catalog. I got the "Bench Top Bar and Rod Bender," Item #38471; doesn't seem to be on sale on the site. I generally work with larger stuff- so sheet metal is a little expensive for me. Maybe eventually, though- but I'd need a pretty big brake to make a base for an illusion.

Richard, yes- I'm pretty sure both Michael and I are talking about the fingers on the hinges. Haven't worked with a brake, but I'm not sure it can do it, since it involves making a closed loop. My bender can do it- but the problem is getting the loop tight enough that I'm not using a 1/2" or thicker pin. I'm hoping for 1/4" max- but the smallest die the bender comes with is 1".

I'm thinking the solution for the hinges is going to involve a vise, a mallet, and some locking pliers, so I can wrap the bar around the pin, then extract the pin, cut slots for the hinges, and hammer the pin back in place. I'm sure that will work for Michael, too... but probably won't look as pretty as it would using a single tool to make precision bends.

Oh well, we'll see- I also want to make bends with a larger radius than 1.5" and since the largest die it came with is 3", that will also be a problem... but hopefully not an insurmountable one. I think making a die out of hardwood might possibly work, if I'm not bending anything thicker than 1/8th of an inch.

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 28, 2011 01:55PM)
The compound bends is something that I can manage once I make some clamping bars of different lengths. As you said, Richard... yes for things like Die Box shells.

The want for a way to make tiny rolls in metal is to be able to make say, a shell die with a hinged lid. (think English-style Die Box). Ideally, the hinge knuckles would actually be part of the two sides that hinge together, with a pin that joins them. I'd rather be able to do that, than apply a separate hinge, which would not sit flush on the panels being joined.

One thought is to begin with a length of very narrow brass tubing, cut into shorter lengths, and threaded on a pin wire. Then, solder them alternating between the two pieces to be hinged.

The only other way I know to do it is to have pivot pins through the sides, in place of a traditional hinge.
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Mar 28, 2011 01:56PM)
Darn, you guys are getting me thinking about metalworking again. I'm going to need a bigger garage...
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (Mar 28, 2011 08:58PM)
To make a smaller mandrel, take a piece of 1" stock (or whatever you need to fit the hole) and either turn the part above the surface of the bender or cut a small plug to fit the hole, center drill it and insert a piece of stainless rod.

As for bending the hinges on the same side of the metal, I seem to recall that you can run the metal edge with a wiring or beading roll and then bar fold it. You then complete the hinge with a tinner's hammer around a piece of rod. I will try to dig out the old metalworking books to keep some more information.

Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Mar 29, 2011 01:15PM)
This looks like an interesting tool, too. [url=http://www.harborfreight.com/18-inch-sheet-metal-fabrication-kit-34104.html?utm_source=retarget&utm_medium=banner&utm_term=october&utm_content=ad%2Bidentifier&utm_campaign=criteo&hft_adv=50030]18" Metal Fabrication Kit[/url]
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Mar 29, 2011 04:05PM)
I saw that one, but the instructions (downloadable) say it's for cutting and beading. It comes with cutting dies as well as round and square beading dies.

I'm still thinking about one of the 3-in-1 benchtop machines, although I have no use for one right now. The downloadable manual from Grizzly is really interesting, although I'd still need a basic book on sheet metal working.

So many toys to dream about... :)
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Apr 1, 2011 09:17PM)
Figured out hinges on my bender, finally.

Thought I needed a round die with an off-center hole and a handle (as seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jTJHudUdNA at roughly 1:00 into the video.) Bought a stainless steel rod and used a die I'd previously cut from a 2x4. Which worked for a little bit until the wood split under the stress.

After a little more experimentation, it turns out I can do the whole thing with the square block alone (though with a bit of apprehension that the whole thing's about to slip and injure me.) If anyone's interested, let me know- I'd have to take some pictures and post 'em online, and I don't want to go through that effort unless I need to. Oh yeah, minimium inside pin radius is 5/8th, the diameter of the pin for the bender. Bigger than I wanted, but it'll do.
Message: Posted by: remote guy (Apr 1, 2011 10:25PM)
On 2011-03-29 17:05, George Ledo wrote:

I'm still thinking about one of the 3-in-1 benchtop machines, although I have no use for one right now. The downloadable manual from Grizzly is really interesting, although I'd still need a basic book on sheet metal working.

So many toys to dream about... :)

I have the Grizzly 12" 3 in 1 sheet metal machine. It works great!

Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Apr 4, 2011 11:05PM)
In case anyone was curious, here's the hinges, with help from the metal bender, a hacksaw, and a Dremel (including cut-off wheel and a grinder.)

If you peeked at the "All Tied Up" forum, you may know these hinges are part of a replica Skeffington's Daughter- a project both for my Halloween props and to practice using some of my new tools. Here's how it looks halfway finished:
Message: Posted by: MentalistCreationLab (Apr 4, 2011 11:47PM)
Those are nice.

Back to the bending square question



In the photos above you can see a stack of square dies one should be with your bender it will go in the center and around this you will bend the square,(you may need to lock the die in place or it will move on you using the HF model) If you buy the scroll bender attachment at HF re-mill it so its square or your bends will be angled. You see what I mean after the first few bends.

The bender in the photos above I made. Its known as a farm bender and will bend just about anything. If your man enough. Bent 2 inch square bare with it. Had to use a leverage bar that was over 10 feet long but it got the job done with an extra guy. But it bent it. The dies are made from A2 and other heavy steel stock from the scrap yard. Also the main bars are made from hitch stock and the pins from grade 5 bolts. Used this bender to build a spear and loop cast iron fence. Think the whole project cost about 30 years ago when steel was cheap. Now you looking at a lot more due to the weight.

Anyway that's what you will need for the square bends a square die.

Just one other question did your bender come with all the instructions in Chinese? The one I got from harbor Freight years ago did.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Apr 5, 2011 12:03AM)
Nah, they translated it to English. But I think they ripped off the directions from the Grizzly Hardware website, including most of the graphics and the entire section on making letters of the alphabet.
Message: Posted by: thegreatnippulini (Apr 5, 2011 06:45AM)

This is my metal bender.

Nice work, by the way..... I usually do scrolling hot by hand.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Apr 5, 2011 09:15AM)
Thank you, Nippulini, that's quite a compliment coming from you.

I do what I can- no forge, no anvil, and no room for either. Still want to tweak the larger collar curves a bit. But hey, it's a learning experience. I'm sad I'll have to use pop-rivets and JB-Weld to attach the hinges to the legs, but I can easily envision what would happen if I tried to hot-set rivets (insufficiently heated with a MAPP gas torch) using a ball-peen hammer on my garage floor. My wife would kill me if I burnt the house down.

Maybe later I'll drill out the pop-rivets, and take it to a blacksmith to have it finished authentically.
Message: Posted by: thegreatnippulini (Apr 5, 2011 10:32AM)
Contact a welder, the may be able to make it work for you. Otherwise, check out http://anvilfire.com/gurusden to find a competent smith near you.
Message: Posted by: EsnRedshirt (Apr 19, 2011 10:28AM)
Finished it, mostly. Posted pictures in the "All Tied Up" forum here: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=408609&forum=18&15

I still have to cut down the 5/8" rod so it's a bit shorter, and I may put a spacer bar between the legs, and pick up some marine shackle clamps to bolt the bar in place.

Drilling the holes for the shackles on the bottom was a major pain, even with a drill press. I think I overheated my unibit step drill at the 3/4" step, despite copious use of lubricating oil; the press wouldn't go any slower than 500 RPM, and that last step probably should have been done at around 300 RPM and with a higher torque press. So the holes got downsized to 5/8" which let me use a solid rod instead of a hollow tube, making it heavier (and more authentic.)

I still don't "get" JB-Weld. I used it to epoxy the hinges on both "legs", cleaning and clamping them identically. On one leg, the epoxy held tightly. On the other leg, the hinge popped off as soon as I removed the clamps. Fortunately, the steel pop-rivets are quite strong; I probably didn't need the JB-Weld in the first place.

I wonder if I can convince my wife to let me display this in the stairwell? Probably not, not even if I offer to put up a little plaque explaining the historical significance... :)