How to Adjust a Hand Metal Brake

Hand metal brake is a vital pieces of equipment, yet can be challenging to use effectively. By understanding its basic mechanics and customizing the machine according to your specific needs, headaches and wasted time can be avoided.

If you find yourself regularly bending pieces near capacity, check that the top leaf has been set back one material thickness to allow clearance of one thickness of material. Greasing clamps and regularly bending leaf pivot pins helps prevent loosening.

Bending Metal

A brake is a tool used to bend metal into precise angles and shapes. These devices may range from handheld manual machines, suitable for on-site jobsites, to large computerized hydraulic machines used in production settings.

Protect sheet metal surfaces which come into contact with hard objects, such as the wood block of a hand brake or mallet, by applying masking tape. This reduces how often a sheet is handled while protecting it from scratches or other forms of damage.

A brake is designed for specific thickness of metal; as such, its setting must be altered accordingly between jobs or for different uses. When creating wide sections like cornices or large sections such as tables with multiple legs, such as cornices or tables of different heights, starting by creating an equalizing kink in one end will prevent subsequent bends from throwing off its trajectory and out of line.


If your business uses a metal brake, it’s crucial that proper safety precautions be taken. This includes clearing an area for operation and making sure that it can support both weight and product capacity of the machine. Furthermore, before using it it should be assembled with its frame and upper press plate properly assembled and in position.

If these conditions aren’t met, accidents such as back injuries and equipment damage may ensue. Furthermore, it’s essential that employees receive adequate training before using the machine. Finally, understanding a brake’s precise tooling tolerance (specific down to fractions of an inch), influences production time as well as costs; too tight of tolerance could mean additional time and money spent refining each part.


Hand metal brakes are invaluable tools, yet are both large and heavy. As such, their use limits its usefulness for traveling sheet metal roofers or craftspeople working across different locations.

Brakes operate by placing metal pieces onto a flat surface and using clamping bars (bending leaves) to hold them while they bend into shape. Additional parts make the machine even more effective, especially if a sharper bend is desired.

If the top leaf creeps forward while clamping, check that both set screws and cap screws at the front shoulder of screws and face of collars are snug against saddles with minimal clearance. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, wedge a block under rear leg that creeps forward until he stops and replace it with one that matches correct height permanently.


Hand brakes are generally robust and well made pieces of equipment; however, they will occasionally require adjustment. This could be due to wear and tear or simply being vulnerable to issues associated with machinery that uses moving parts; in such instances it is wise to check for strong welds on clamping dies and pivot pins that hold bending leaves, while regular greasing of these components helps ensure they don’t seize up and break.

Lubricate the large brake nose gap adjustment knobs at the rear of the upper jaw to adjust bending leaf alignment with required bend angles, leaving one material thickness of space between bending leaf and nose radius piece.

Remove any rust or paint from the corners of the angle-iron that are on top of the bending leaf, and mark with a caliper (or vernier) where 1/2 smooth rods should be placed as hinge pins for more accurate weld locations when making bends.

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