Project Spotlight

A Bench-Top Press Brake for Your Workshop


A Bench-Top Press Brake for Your Workshop

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Step 1: Column and Base

Using two lengths of 1 inch by 1/8 inch angle iron of the same length (approximately 18 inches), weld a series of 3/8-inch spacers to what will be the inner faces of each column half. Using a 2-foot length of 3/8-inch bar stock as a spacer, clamp the two faces together and weld the angle iron at 90 degrees to a base cut from 3/8-inch plate. This will create the
connected column and base, with the space between the angle iron assemblies acting as a channel for the brake’s traveler. Using more 3/8-inch stock, weld a series of backing plates to the column.


Step 2: Lever Assembly

Cut two 4-inch lengths of 2½-inch angle iron and drill a centered 3/8-inch hole into the corresponding faces. These will act as the pivot for the lever. Using your lever (3/8 inch by 3 foot piece of bar stock) as a spacer, weld the angle pieces to your base, just behind the column. Using your predrilled holes as a guide, and keeping your lever off of the base by about 1/4 of an inch, mark the pivot hole on your lever, then drill a 3/8-inch hole through. The quarter-inch clearance helps create the necessary clearance to move the traveler. Create the pivot point using a piece of 3/8-inch round stock welded to each of the angle uprights. Knock off the end corners of the lever to create more clearance.


Step 3: Creating the Traveler

Cut two square pieces of 2 inch by 3/8 inch bar stock. To ensure perfect alignment when drilling, tack weld these pieces together, and then drill 3/8-inch holes into opposite corners. These holes will serve as the pivot points between the lever and traveler. Using the spacer stock from step one, knock off the corners of the end that will be pinned to the pivot point and drill a centered hole that corresponds with the pivot hole in this assembly. Once you’re satisfied with the fit, weld in a piece of 3/8-inch round stock to complete the traveler’s pivot assembly.


Step 4: Upper Jaw

Weld a piece of 1/2-inch angle iron to a piece of 1/2-inch bar stock of the same length so that the “point” of the angle iron is 90 degrees to the bar stock. This point becomes the blade of the upper jaw. Join this blade to the top of the traveler at a 90-degree angle.


Step 5: Lower Jaw

Cut a 90-degree angle into the end of a piece of 3/8-inch bar stock and weld to the column just below where the upper jaw will come to rest in the down position. Using this as a base, create the lower jaw from two pieces of angle iron. Weld into place at 90 degrees from the column. To ensure that this piece, which will carry the brunt of the downforce, does not deflect during use, weld a gusset made of bar stock that connects the outer lip of the lower jaw to the column assembly.


Step 6: Mini Jaw

For making bends in smaller stock, this addition to your bench-top brake will come in handy. Cut a 90-degree “V” from a piece of 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch bar stock and save the cutoff.
With the lever of the brake in the down position, weld the female part of the V to the inner side of the column, about 1/3 up the length of the base. Place the male portion of the V in
the mating surface and weld that into place.


Step 7: Spring Assembly

To make sure that the brake returns to the upright position after each bend, a spring mechanism needs to be installed. Weld a piece of tubing to the rear of the upper jaw assembly. Insert a length of bar stock into the tube and weld it at the top. Slide a length of spring over the bar stock and using another piece of tubing, clamp the spring into the closed position. Weld that piece of tubing to the lower jaw.


Step 8: Mounting Holes and Finish

Since you will be applying a good deal of downforce when bending metal, it’s advisable to drill mounting holes into the base plate to accept screws or bolts to secure it to the bench. To prevent rust, you may also want to consider applying a few coats of finish.