How to Bend Sheet Metal

Lead Image
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Ruler
Dry-erase marker
Carpenter square
Straightedge
2 2x2 inch wood pieces
Wood clamps

Sheet metal you're likely to find at home, contrary to some thinking, is used for a variety of art craft projects, and those who participate in these projects will eventually need to know how to their bend sheet metal. Even if the object you build with this thin metal sheet is as simple as a tray or as complicated as a sculpture, if you're going to bend the sheet metal, you'll need to know how to make a straight and even bend. Bending sheet metal with precision is not nearly as simple as it appears to be. Bending it is simple. Bending with precision is not. Here's how you can bend your sheet metal like a pro.

Step 1 – Measure and Marking Your Sheet Metal

Before attempting to make your bend, you'll need to measure and mark the place where you want to make your bend on your sheet metal. Use a dry-erase marker to make the mark. This way, you won't need to be concerned about making an unwanted mark you won't be able to clean off your sheet metal.

Step 2 - Choose a Straightedge

Use a straight edge to make a clean, straight, bend line. A table edge or a shelf will sometimes give you a straightedge that will be less likely to move when you begin bending your sheet metal. Just be sure that neither the straightedge nor the sheet metal moves or shifts as you mark your line on the sheet metal. Also, you will need the straightedge to be thin enough that you can get it between two clamp jaws.

Step 3 - Align Materials

Clamping your sheet metal to the straightedge is a must. Otherwise, the sheet metal is almost certain to shift as you bend it, resulting in a bad bend. To clamp efficiently, lay your sheet metal on the top surface of your straightedge, with the drawn line perfectly aligned with the outside edge of the sheet metal. Then place a 2x2 inch strip across the sheet metal, so the edge is aligned with the line drawn on the sheet metal. Open the clamp jaws wide enough for them to fit over the straightedge, sheet metal, and 2x2. Very slowly close the clamp jaws. Be sure that all three edges—sheet metal, straight edge, and 2x2—are perfectly aligned. Don't allow either of them to shift out of alignment.

Step 4 - Bend You Sheetmetal

With a second wood clamp, clamp another 2x2 inch strip to your sheet metal. The inside edge of the strip should be parallel with the line you made on the sheet metal. Position the strip back about 1/8 inches from the line, then clamp it in place with two clamps, so that they are clamped to the sheet metal lip that protrudes past the edge of the straightedge. With both hands pushing downward on the outer 2x2, begin bending the metal sheet, applying equal downward pressure at both ends. When it has reached the angle you're trying for, release your pressure, and remove the clamps.