Bending copper sheets

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Old 02-17-05, 01:42 AM
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Bending copper sheets

I am posting in this forum to get some advice on how to bend sheet copper. We are in the middle of a kitchen remodeling. We saw a show on HG network and the house that had copper counter tops. We have an existing old formica counter top that the formica is shot but the wood it is attached to is
real(not press wood). It is 128nch long and 25 1/2 wide. What I want to do is get the sheet copper and bend it over the existing counter and attach it. To have this done proffessionally is 1900.00 to do it the way I want to is 300.00. Is it feasable or are there problems I don't see.
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Old 02-17-05, 04:40 PM
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In order to get sharp, crisp bends you will need a sheet metal brake.

Yes, you can rig it by bending the metal over an edge, like a board, but the bend is not the same.

In order to bend adjacent sides, you will need a box and pan brake. Now you can bend one side after another has been bent, without damaging the first bend.

Standard sheets are 96 or 120 inches long, so you also have a seam or two to address. Make sure the seam is done with a lead free solder. If the backsplash will be formed seperately, now there are more seams.

Copper is a very nice looking metal, but it is also very soft. Your countertop will get scratched and dented very quickly. It will also be relatively easy to puncture it, especially if you use the standard 16oz sheet.

Acidic food residue will turn it green. Hard water will stain it easily. Keeping it shiny is a real pain.

I would not hesitate to use copper on the walls... maybe quilted sheet, tiles or pressed sheet (like tin ceiling patterns), but I would think twice about using it for a countertop.

I am assuming that sharp, crisp 90 degree bends are what you want. If radius bends are your objective, using the existing countertop (if it has those bends) as a backing board is fine. The copper is soft enough to be formed into that profile with some hand tools and plenty of patience. Many gentle blows with a soft hammer are preferred to a couple of heavy blows...
 

Last edited by danski0224; 02-18-05 at 03:28 AM.
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Old 02-19-05, 11:55 AM
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I live near a shop that does sheet metal for the food industry (e.g. restaurant kitchens) and have been in there with small orders. There's no way they would charge anything like this "professional" price you've been given. Shop around, directly through "sheet metal" in the phone book. You may even find a capable shop that does roof or boat metal.

Copper thick enough to stay tolerably flat will be too heavy for clean home bending. A brake is really necessary. Consider that it will weather quite a bit with patinas, scratches, and dents anyway and this will have to be part of its charm.
 
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Old 02-19-05, 07:29 PM
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Thanks for all the advice. I have a friend that does vinyl siding and alum siding on the side, he will do the bends for me. I have run into another snag, we didn't want any seams, and I can only find 10ft max sheets. My counter is 128 inchs long.
 
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Old 02-19-05, 09:49 PM
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A cafe in my town has a copper bar at least 16' long - I'll have a cup next time I go by, to see how they did the seam.

I guess the cleanest solution would be to butt both edges tightly together, upside down and weighted flat, and solder a copper strip along them, even letting the solder flow down through the (top surface) joint. Then flip over and sand down the excess solder. Hairline and flush with the copper, it should be pretty inconspicous.
 
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