Improved Harbor Freight Metal Bending Brake
Overall, the quality looked decent when I opened the package, but what I noticed was the steel hold down bar that secures the work piece in place to the bed while bending was aseparate,
loose piece of metal. Clamps were required to maintain pressure on the hold down bar and keep the work piece secured.
I decided I could sacrifice a little bit of width on the brake (I needed about 20″ clear for my project) and that I could install a built in clamping systems which would make using the brake more efficient.
The photo shows the stock metal brake with the required clamps holding down the steel bar which secures the work piece.
I permanently mounted the brake to a plank that has a piece of wood below which can be clamped into a portable workbench. The plank has a hole in it so I can just hang it on the wall when not in use.
Materials (inexpensive) were obtained from the local hardware store and are follows:
(2) knurled knobs with 5/16″ machine screw
(2) 5/16″ fender washers
(2) 3/8″ diam x 1/2″ long stiff springs (approx. dimensions)Step 2: Drilling
The first thing I did was align the steel hold down bar on the bed of the brake, leaving a little tolerance to the edge of the bed for the thickness of the materials I would be bending (+/ 18 gauge copper) and clamped it in place.
I then used a punch to set some dimples at the drill hole locations.
Using the hand drill, I drilled a pilot hole through both the steel hold down bar and the bed of the brake.
Next I used the drill press to enlarge the holes in the hold down bar for through feeding the 5/16″ knurled knob machine screw.
On the back side of the hold down bar,
I drilled some oversize holes about half way through the hold down bar to create a recess that the springs could compress into.
Next I enlarged the hole in the bed of the brake to a suitable size for threading with the 5/16″ tap.