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Stiffening up the Homemade Box and Pan Brake

After doing a lot of work in previous tests I determined the brake could get the job done on small pieces of metal but just could not get it done on longer pieces because the hinged board was bowing when I applied the force necessary to bend the longer pieces, I decided to build a brace to stiffen up the hinged board. When I decided to build the brace… I built a BRACE! To quote my cousin when we were teenagers working on cars. “I am sick of messing with this thing.”

The parts to be cut and formed into the brace.

The parts to be cut and formed into the brace.

Seriously, when I designed this brace the same processes went through my mind as before. What can I do fairly cheaply with the tools I have? I decided to again use 1 X 1 X 1/8″ angle and cut and weld it to form the brace.  I did not do a lot of design except to think about which components would be under compression and which ones would be under tension.  I knew the center strut would be under compression and may want to bend sideways if there was any misalignment so I doubled up on the pieces of the angle on it to make it symmetric.  I have access to a fairly small MIG welder and used it to weld the pieces together.

The actual brace.

The actual brace.

There are a couple of things to point out in the pictures. First, since I am creating the drawing for my own use, I did not worry about pretty dimensioning of the lines. I copied each of the pieces down to a separate area and dimensioned it in a way that would be useful for me in constructing it.  The long piece that formed the back of the brace frame was notched and was easily bent to form the triangle shape.   I also just cut to fit the last pieces, the pieces that were drilled for the carriage bolts.

The carriage bolts were used as an adjustment to apply pressure to the angle piece installed in a previous post.  Using carriage bolts did two things for me.  First the square part behind the head allowed me to use a wrench to prevent the head from turning while I turned the nut to force the head against the angle steel on the back of the hinged board. The second reason for the carriage bolts is the round head allowed misalignment so I did not have to worry about exactly squaring the bolt to the angle on the back of the hinged board.


No comments about the look of the welds.  I have never done all that much welding and it has been a couple of years since the last time I welded.  Those are anything except pretty, but they did get the job done.  I had two more welds to complete when the wire feed stopped working so I bolted the final two pieces to the main part of the brace.   I will troubleshoot the wire feed at a later date.

Set up for bending a piece of metal for the maximum width of the clamp.

Set up for bending a piece of metal for the maximum width of the clamp.

After getting the whole thing put back together I set it up to do a bend on the metal for a full width of the test clamping board. I bent the piece and success! I got a nice tight corner in the metal. Finally, I have met my initial goal. The next step would be to come up with a much more convenient method of clamping the metal and adjusting the clamps. I do have some ideas about all that and I may draw my design. However, just before completing this brace, I received an e-mail from a man that showed me his design. It is much simpler and probably a better way to go than all this work I am doing. There are a few things where my design does have an advantage, but the complexity is not worth the effort. I have his permission to post his design and will do it in the next blog post.

The results of the full width bend.

The results of the full width bend.

The metal I have been using is really too stiff for making small enclosures.  This stiff metal is hard to cut with the aviation snips I use and this leads to ragged edges as well as the problems with making a nice tight bend.  Any future experimentation will be done with more appropriate metal.

I guess the best summary is the words of Julius Caesar: “I came, I saw, I conquered”… but the final unquoted part is:  “I am wore out.”


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