How to properly use a metal brake to bend sheet metal for various applications

Sheet metal bending is a critical process in many industries, and having the right tools can make all the difference in achieving precise and efficient results. One such tool is the metal bending brake, also known as a sheet metal brake, which is used to bend sheet metal at specific angles. If you’re planning to use a metal bending brake for your sheet metal bending needs, it’s essential to use it properly to get the desired outcomes. 

In this article, we’ll discuss some tips and techniques to help you properly use a metal bending brake to bend sheet metal for various applications. We’ll also touch on the planishing hammer, another tool used in sheet metalworking to smooth out dents or imperfections in the metal. So, let’s dive in and learn how to use the metal brake and planishing hammer to create high-quality and precise sheet metal products.

Understanding Your Metal Brake

Before using a metal brake to bend sheet metal, it is important to understand the different components of the machine. A metal brake typically consists of a bed, a clamping bar, and a bending leaf. The bed is the flat surface where the sheet metal is placed, and the clamping bar holds the metal in place during the bending process. The bending leaf is the brake part that bends the sheet metal.

Different metal brakes may have additional components, such as back gauges or finger stops, that can help you achieve more precise bends. It is important to familiarize yourself with these components and how they work before using the metal brake.

Preparing Your Sheet Metal

Before bending sheet metal with a metal brake, it is important to prepare the metal properly. The metal should be clean and free of rust, debris, or other contaminants. You should also ensure that the metal is the correct thickness for your brake. Most metal brakes are designed to handle sheet metal between 18 and 12 gauge thickness.

If the sheet metal is too thick or too thin for the brake, it may not bend properly, or it may even damage the machine. You should also measure the length of the metal and mark the bending points to ensure accurate and consistent bends.

Setting Up Your Metal Brake

Once you have prepared your sheet metal, it is time to set up your metal brake. Start by adjusting the clamping bar to the correct height for the thickness of your metal. This will ensure that the metal is securely placed during the bending process. You can usually adjust the height of the clamping bar by turning a crank or using a lever.

Next, adjust the bending leaf to the desired angle for your bend. This can typically be done by adjusting the position of the bending leaf or by using an angle gauge. It is important to be precise when setting the angle, as even small variations can affect the final result.

Making Your Bend

Once your metal brake is set up, it is time to make your bend. Start by placing the sheet metal onto the bed of the brake, ensuring that it is aligned with the clamping bar. Use the clamping bar to hold the metal securely in place.

Next, slowly lower the bending leaf onto the metal, using steady pressure to create the desired bend. It is important to use consistent pressure throughout the bending process to ensure that the bend is even and smooth. If you need to make multiple bends in the same metal, reposition the metal between each bend to avoid warping or distortion.

If you are working with more complex shapes or angles, you may need additional tools, such as finger stops or back gauges, to achieve the desired result. These tools can help you make more precise and consistent bends, especially when working with larger pieces of metal.

Finishing Your Bend

Once you have made your bend, it is important to carefully remove the metal from the brake to avoid any damage. Use a pair of pliers or a similar tool to carefully release the clamping bar and lift the metal off the bed of the brake. If you have made multiple bends, be sure to remove the metal from the brake after each bend to avoid damaging the metal or the machine.

After removing the metal from the brake, inspect the bend to ensure it is even and smooth. If you notice any defects or imperfections, you may need to adjust your setup or technique to achieve better results.

Safety Precautions

Using a metal brake can be a safe and efficient way to bend sheet metal, but it is important to take proper safety precautions to avoid accidents or injuries. Always wear protective gear such as gloves and safety glasses when using a metal brake, and avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that could get caught in the machine.

Read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow all safety guidelines when using a metal brake. Never attempt to use the machine if you are not properly trained or unsure how to use it safely.


A metal bending brake is essential for anyone working with sheet metal. By following the tips and techniques discussed in this article, you can ensure that you are using the metal bending brake properly to achieve precise and efficient results. Always prioritize safety when using any metalworking tool, and use the planishing hammer to smooth out any imperfections in your sheet metal work. Properly using these tools allows you to create high-quality and durable sheet metal products that meet your specific needs. So, go ahead and put your metal bending brake to work, and see the difference it can make in your sheet metal projects. Get in touch with the team at Eastwood for more information.