View Full Version : Buying a metal brake need your thoughts..
10-04-2005, 01:36 PM
I am in the market for a metal brake mostly so I can make floor plans for a hotrod project but also just to add to the tool list.. i already have a bench brake that is only 18inches so I am looking at something bigger so I dont have to scab in a bunch of small pieces..
So far I am looking at a brake at harbor freight its only 179.99 and claims to bend up to 12 gauge mild and is 36" inches wide should be more than enough I would think.. I would like to keep the cost bellow 300 so please let me know if there is a better option or if there is anything I should be concerned with about this brake...
this is it
harbor freight brake (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=91012)
10-04-2005, 03:02 PM
Ain't no way that brake will do 36" wide 12 ga, imho. I expect it will not do 36" of even 20 ga. The specs don't even say it will do the full width.
Enco has a pretty decent 4" box and pan brake for around $400 but it struggles with 18 ga full width even though it's rated as 16 ga. It has a LOT more beef to it than the HF unit.
Just as a further comparison. This is ENCO's 48" 22 ga brake:
If you look at the two side by side, you'll notice the 22 ga has a LOT more metal in it.
HongKongFooyee stuff is notorious for over rating stuff.
10-04-2005, 03:15 PM
I would think that it might cut 20 at full length that is what I will be using for floor pans and then bead rolling it for strength. but I dont know. the 20 dollar thing I got at HF will do the full 18 inches of 20 guage but kicking and screaming... the one at enco looks nice but I would be well into it for probably 500 after shipping well over my budget
10-04-2005, 05:39 PM
how hard would it be to reiforce a cheap brake. Could you make it better or would it be to much work?
10-04-2005, 06:57 PM
OK, I do not have a new tool in my shop... WHY..Used GOOD ones are better quality for your money. Take the time to NOT waste your hard earned dollars on the Harbor Freight if you really want a good tool for the long term.
Ebay, other members here in Metalmeet as well as auctions. The right set up Long Term is an 8 foot brake for straight bends or radius's and a 4 foot box brake. A combo brake may save money , but is a real pain to swap back and forth when you want to fold up a simple battery box for something like a cycle cart. It took me 2 hours of nonsense to do and undo a combo change over for a simple 5 min task. argh! I learned the hard way and now hang long dies on the press brake that allow me to hang off the end to do box bends. I know "cheating" ...but I would call it field expedience. IE: making do with what you have! Please find a real good used box/ pan brake for now. You can add a longer brake as time , money and space allow in the future.
I think when it comes to brakes ect..., a lot depends on what you want to use it for. If your in the business and will be using it a lot, then by all means go for the better stuff. But if your just a hobbiest that does things like this now and again then a "generic" would probably do, just buy it with a rating heavier than what you expect to be doing......
10-26-2005, 03:22 PM
I bought an Enco brake several years ago. It is a box & pan brake rated at 16 gage. It wouldn't bend a peice of 18 gage 20" long. I called and comlpained and they offered to give me $35 . I told them I wanted my brake to bend 16 gage.
In the end I beefed it up and it will bend full width 16 gage.
First thing I did was to remove all the fingers and replaced them with a solid 1/2" x 6" x 48" That had been machined to the profile of the fingers. Next I added a peice of 2"x2"x1/4" x48" to the bending leaf. Then I added the balance weights to the bending leaf. It works pretty well . But you get what you pay for. Bill
10-26-2005, 04:49 PM
How about this one from Grizzly?
Yeah I just bought the 16 GA Box and Pan brake for Enco. I'd wondered about making a solid clamping tooth. I spoke to one fellow who said it wouldn't make a diiference, but I would think it would. I use mine mainly for 22 gauge steel so I have the piece of angle off the bending leaf and it seems to do fine for that. Haven't tried anything thicker yet....... I had to take all the teeth out of mine when I got it and mill them to make them match, from the shortest to the longest there was a difference of .040.... I had an Enco 22 gauge Box and Pan brake and it did pretty well with 22. On a 4' length though it would come out with a slight bow to the angle.
10-27-2005, 05:24 AM
This is just "general advise" that I have found true
One good way to judge the new tools coming from far flung areas of the globe is to go to a local sheetmetal duct work shop and look at what they use to bend sheet metal. Usually they have some good size well made units. Compare these to the one your looking to buy make a note of the weight of the unit in question do a search for the higher priced units on the web and look at their weights, although weight is not the only indicator of strength it is a good basis for a start.
If the machine your looking at weighs 200 lbs and a good quality unit that does the same or close to the same weighs 700 lbs there's a better than good chance that they didn't put the extra 500 lbs into it just because they are good guys.
If you buy cheep tools there is a good chance your going to have to modify them to some extent, this may or may not make you happy and you might feel cheated (some feel better) when your done. If the budget doesn't allow for the good stuff and you have searched for the old stuff and found none then buy the best from the Ho flung dung brands and modify to suit your needs. There is some really good buys in the far eastern tools and I can't even buy the metal for the price they are getting (how they do that?) but it's always a crap shoot and in the end you might be looking at scrap value for the money you spent.
Good luck and happy hunting
They work over there for pennies on the dollar... But as said the work is sometimes subpar and needs help..... I had always thought of building my own brake, did build a small one to start with 3' leaf brake. It was from the plans offered from Dave Gingery's book from Lindsay Books. I used heavier stuff to build it from than was used in the book. It works pretty well, but I always thought of going back someday and making some modifications to it...
12-09-2005, 05:10 PM
PTV, is it a box & pan? I'm thinking about building a 3' unit myself. I have the Gingery catalog....I'll have to find it I guess. Are the plans worth buying? I was more or less going to copy the Sampson 16ga - 4ft brake at work (With some upgrades it's a 16ga rated brake which should be a 20ga unit) I figure it will get close to it real rating at 3' wide.
12-09-2005, 05:36 PM
First off, you need to know what steel you'll be working/forming. Is it mild steel or not?
Don't blame the machine for your ignorance. I don't know what kind of sheet you buy but around here it's 1014 to 1018 unless you specify. In my book, that's NOT mild steel! Dang hard stuff in a shear and it's not what the mfg. considers "mild steel". If I recall, the MS spec. they base the cutting capacity on is 1010 or less, probably 1008.
Don't be so quick to knock a machine you're overworking. There's more to steel than just the gauge.
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