Guide to Understanding Abrasive Wheels

Whether you are cutting off a frozen bolt, prepping for a weld, or you want to create a beautiful brushed pattern on stainless steel sheet, abrasive wheels are an essential tool for any welder or metal fabricator. IMS stocks a huge selection of abrasive metal wheels in all sizes, styles and varieties for cutting, grinding and finishing metal.

Abrasive wheels are similar to sandpaper. They are made from powdered abrasive grains held together with a binder, such as resin, which also glues them to a fiberglass backing in the shape of a wheel. As the wheel rotates on a grinder it abrades the metal surface, causing sharp edges of the grains to either break off, leaving more sharp edges, or wear down. Gradually the worn grains are pulled out of the binder, exposing sharper grains in place behind them.

This guide will help you select the right abrasive wheel, including the best choice of grain type and size, as well as binder material, for your application.

The four primary types of grains used on abrasive wheels for metal include aluminum oxide, zirconia alumina, silicon carbide, and ceramic alumina:

  • Aluminum oxide grains are tough and hard-wearing, making this type of abrasive wheel a good choice for grinding metals such as steel, stainless steel and other ferrous metals.
  • Zirconia alumina grains also can be used to grind steel and steel alloys. It costs more but lasts longer than aluminum oxide. Zirconia is very heat resistant and is typically used for high pressure machining and grinding because the pressure causes the grains to break down quickly, exposing sharper edges.
  • Silicon carbide grains are very sharp, but break off easily under high pressure. They can be used for grinding softer or weaker metals, such as copper or cast iron, or non-metals such as cement or stone.
  • Ceramic alumina is a newer type of abrasive with a micro-grain structure that breaks down in smaller pieces, giving it a longer life and fast cut rate. This type of abrasive works well in a range of applications, from cast aluminum to titanium alloys.

The different types of grains can also be blended, to create an optimal formula for specific metals and applications.

Grit size, which reflects the size of the grains, is denoted on the wheel label. The larger the grit size, the smaller the grain. As with sandpaper, large or coarse grains take out larger chips from the metal, resulting in a rougher finish. The smaller the grain, the finer the finish. Also, larger grains are more appropriate for softer materials, such as low-carbon steel, while smaller grains should be used on harder alloys.

Binder materials are graded by their ability to hold the grains. The stronger the binder, the longer the grains hold on, even though they have been dulled. This means that a weaker binder is a better choice for cutting strong, tough metals that require razor sharp abrasive grains. Many abrasive wheels used for standard metalworking use a resin binder.

IMS stocks a varied line of abrasives including:

  • Metal cutting wheels – used with an angle grinder to make fast, clean cuts in steel, stainless steel and other metals.
  • Sanding discs – remove paint, rust, corrosion, surface marks and uneven edges to create a smooth finish.
  • Bench grinding wheels – use with a bench or pedestal grinder to remove metal, shape, sharpen or deburr.
  • Flap discs – a flat, circular abrasive disk made of multiple overlapping cloth-backed “flaps” joined at the center. Used with a grinding wheel to blend or finish a welded surface and prepare it for priming or painting.
  • Flap wheels – similar to a flap disk, but the flaps are arranged around a central hub in a three-dimensional tire shape. Used to create a smooth finish on curved metal.
  • Wire wheels – prepare welding surfaces by cleaning off spatter and excess filler material without removing base metal.
  • Shank mounted points – rotating abrasive points in a variety of shapes and materials allow fast, free-cutting stock removal, blending and polishing.
  • Carbide burrs – used with a grinder or in a CNC machine, these tungsten carbide rotary files with raised diagonal teeth are used for cutting, shaping, grinding and deburring.

For more information about abrasive wheels for metal, contact IMS.


How to Choose the Right Material for Metal Handrails

Choosing the right metal for handrails can be confusing. Railing components and systems are available in a wide variety of metals, including aluminum, steel, stainless steel, brass, and wrought iron. With all these options, what are the most important factors to consider in selecting metal handrails?

First, decide what you need the fence to accomplish. Are you providing safety for an industrial or commercial installation or security around a property? You will need a sturdy metal fence that can stand up to the environment.

On the other hand, you may be looking for an attractive, aesthetically pleasing handrail to complement the design of a home or office building. You can choose between traditional steel railings or go with aluminum, which offers some benefits over steel. For a more upscale look, you also may want to consider brass, stainless, or wrought iron fencing.

Aluminum vs. Steel

Aluminum railings are typically anodized or powder coated, providing extra corrosion resistance and requiring little maintenance. Non-sparking and chemical resistant aluminum alloy railings are ideal choices for industrial applications, such as petrochemical plants and offshore oil rigs. Aluminum-magnesium alloy 535 is the most corrosion resistant alloy available, and is as strong as iron at only one-third the weight. Aluminum railings are also less expensive than steel.

Steel handrails can be painted, but will need to be stripped and repainted every few years, due to rust, which is not only unsightly, but also can lead to structural damage, such as bent or broken posts. Steel is much heavier than aluminum, and costs more to transport and install. Aluminum railings are easier to handle and can be cut to size with a miter saw.

Aluminum fencing components, such as Hollaender Speed Rail fittings, are an easy, convenient way to install metal pipe railings of any size or cross-section. The fittings can be used with galvanized carbon steel, stainless steel, black iron, or aluminum pipe, with no electrolytic corrosion. They can be slipped on and tightened down with a hex key – no welding required – and they can be disassembled and re-used.

Brass and Stainless Steel

Brass and stainless steel are great choices for decorative and functional handrails in high-end residential, entertainment, and commercial building projects. Brass provides a traditional, classic look, but can also fit in with an ultra-modern architecture. Its wear-resistance and anti-microbial properties make it a favorite choice in marine architecture. A polished brass railing will tarnish, requiring regular maintenance, but solid brass will age to a rich patina.

Stainless steel is strong, durable, and corrosion-resistant, with very low maintenance requirements. It is easy to sterilize, making it ideal for hospital and medical facilities. Type 316 stainless is a good choice in coastal and industrial environments because it is resistant to chemicals and salt water.

Wrought Iron

No discussion of metal handrails would be complete without wrought iron. This type of fence has been used for hundreds of years, and can match the architectural style of any building, providing old-world elegance and charm. Wrought iron fences are strong enough to deter animals and most vehicles. A variety of patterns, shapes, supplies, and materials are available to create almost any design.

In addition to higher cost, drawbacks of wrought iron include the heavy weight of the metal, which makes it harder to handle and more difficult to install. Maintenance is an issue with wrought iron – like steel, iron rusts in humid environments, especially in salt-water air. To prevent rust from taking hold requires sanding off rust spots, priming and re-painting regularly.

Visit Industrial Metal Supply for more information about metal handrails.


What is the Difference Between Galvanized and Galvalume Roofing?

When completing a project with corrugated sheet should you go with a galvanized or Galvalume metal roof?

The answer lies in the difference between the two. Traditional galvanized metal roofing is a corrugated sheet of carbon steel with a galvanized coating. The coating is created by dipping the straight sheet in hot molten zinc. The zinc ions bond with iron molecules in the steel to create a shiny, rust-resistant finish on its surface. This process is called galvanization.

After the coating hardens, the sheet is put through a cold forming corrugation process, which bends the sheet into parallel linear patterns. These “corrugations” give the sheet more strength and stability when it is installed as a roof.

The patented Galvalume process invented by Bethlehem Steel in 1972 is similar to galvanization, but also adds aluminum and silicon to the zinc. As the coating dries, patches of aluminum and zinc molecules coalesce into a pattern across the surface of the sheet. The aluminum areas provide corrosion resistance and the zinc provides galvanization protection. The small amount of silicon helps the coating adhere to the underlying metal, even when it is being cut or rolled into the corrugated shape.

So which one is better for a roof? There are pros and cons to each type.

The extra corrosion resistance of Galvalume means that scratches, bends, or cut edges won’t rust so quickly, and it also makes a better choice in rainy climates and in salt air.

Paint does not adhere as well to Galvalume, so the aesthetics may not be as good. Also, Galvalume costs more than galvanized metal roofing – but the fact that a Galvalume metal roof will last up to twice as long as a galvanized roof of the same thickness could make up the difference. For these reasons, Galvalume metal roofs are much more popular.

Typically, galvanized sheet roofs are used mainly for agricultural buildings, where rust is less of an issue and costs must be kept low. Galvanized metal roofs may also be used by architects looking for a traditional, rusted appearance in a new building.

For more information on ordering galvanized or Galvalume metal roofing, visit Industrial Metal Supply.


How Wire Mesh is Made

Wire mesh sheet is a highly versatile product used for a wide variety of applications, from safety fencing, concrete reinforcement, light fixtures, to air filtration. Wire mesh can be made of many different metals – such as carbon steel or stainless steel – with a range of gauges and hole sizes.

Wire mesh comes in two basic types: woven wire mesh and welded wire mesh.

Both types of mesh begin with extruding a metal rod, tube or wire through a number of dies that are successively smaller to create a thinner wire which is then wound on a spool. The wound wire later can be run through a straightening machine and cut in desired lengths for the next part of the process.

Woven wire mesh

Weaving wire into mesh is similar to the process of weaving cloth. First, a wire loom is set up with long lengths of wire strung parallel through the machine like yarn warp threads.

As the machine operates, wire harnesses lift alternate strands of the wire, allowing a shuttle to pass between strands perpendicularly, pulling along a filling wire, similar to a yarn weft. Then a batten presses the filling wire against the mesh and the harnesses lift the opposite strands so the shuttle can pass through in the opposite direction, producing an over-under weave.

Other weave patterns can also be created.

Welded wire mesh

Another type of wire mesh, sometimes called welded wire fabric, can be made with an automatic wire welding machine. This type of mesh consists of a series of parallel and perpendicular wires spaced at equal distances and welded at the intersections.

To set up the machine, wire is strung through a row of automatic feeders that push the long parallel strands through the welder. To create the cross-wires, another feeder drops short perpendicular sections of wire down on top of the parallel wires. At the intersections between parallel and perpendicular wire, a row of electrical resistance weld heads then fuses the joints and the mesh is pulled ahead, while another perpendicular wire drops down.

Contact Industrial Metal Supply today for more information about wire mesh or to get a quote.


How-To Video Building a DIY Travel Trailer – The Frame

Our friend and master DIY’er Joe Mooney of Homesteadonmics is back at it again! This time he’s working on a Travel Trailer build, currently welding the frame together to create the basic shell. This will end up somewhere at the crossroads of a Teardrop Trailer & a full size Camp Trailer. Stay tuned as his project transforms from this base frame into a full fledged aluminum clad roadworthy companion!

From the Forney welder to the steel & aluminum, down to welding tabs, our six stores have everything you need to make one of your own!

About The Project – By Joe Mooney:

Building the base frame of this DIY Travel Trailer project started about two years ago when I was asked if I wanted an old axle from a Travel Trailer that was getting a larger axle installed.   Being an opportunistic user of what some would call junk… I said YES!  And that was the start of a rather long developed build that is now becoming a travel trailer!

After getting the axle, I figured I’d build a simple ‘angle iron’ utility trailer frame that I could pull with my 2006 Jetta TDI.  And maybe add some sort of lightweight teardrop style camper later on.  Well, as time passed, so did the Jetta with it’s 300k miles.  And the trailer sat just collecting dust and rust until I figured what the new plan would be.  And so the Travel Trailer plan developed.

Extending the Base frame…

The first step was to lengthen and widen the trailer from the angle iron utility frame that I originally built.  This definitely isn’t the ideal start to a travel trailer, incorporating different profiles and steel thicknesses, but it’s what I had to use.  I made all of the extensions with 2×3 14ga tubing coming off of the original 2×3 3/16th angle frame.  Each of the extensions off the sides and the back was also supported by the original frame angle that was positioned horizontally and had been left slightly wider than the original frame.  This keeps the new sides from ‘pulling’ outwards on the original frame.

As a matter of dimension the original frame started at roughly 5.5’W x10.5’L and with the new additions sits now at 7’ wide and is 13’ long for the foot print (lengths do not include tongue)

Building the upper frame…

The upper frame is constructed of 1×1.5” 16ga steel tubing for the sides and roof and 1×1” 16ga tubing for the front and back walls.

Starting the upper frame began with laying out a basic roof outline on the base frame, using it as a template, and then welding four wall posts up from the roof assembly.  Once this was done I then dragged it off of the trailer base frame and then flipped it over and set it back on the trailer base frame and tacked it into place.  Boom!  Walls and a roof started!  Once these were in place I then welded vertical ‘studs’ to infill the side walls and roof.

Next I added the back wall and connected it to the base frame at a 45 degree inward slope to give a clearance section for the back of the trailer.    The next big step was adding the front wall and then bending the front ‘radius’ sections.  This was accomplished in the old school method of a torch and an old water tank we used as a form.  Once those bent sections were in  tacked in place I then in filled horizontal pieces and went about framing a doorway and adding metal tabs to provide mounting points for window frames and interior wood framework.

So that’s about it for the general frame build.  The next steps are to prep for paint and adding all the window frames and other support members prior to adding the aluminum ‘skin’ to the outer shell.  This is currently underway and will be in the part 2 video of this series!    Thanks for watching and stay tuned for more on this build!


How to Choose the Right Shooting Target

Picking the best shooting targets can be tricky. The process involves several choices, beginning with the purpose of the practice, gun type, shooting distance, and ammunition.

For example, duck hunters use clay “pigeons” catapulted into the air to practice taking down a moving target with a rifle, while law enforcement officers use a silhouette for training with handguns.

Steel Shooting Targets

Shooters may choose a steel target for long-range practice, such as the AR500 (short for abrasion resistant steel with a Brinell hardness of 500). Steel targets provide a satisfying “ping” sound, letting the shooter know they have hit the mark.

The AR500 target is a tough, long-lasting choice, and both sides can be used, adding to the life of the target. The AR500 typically comes in either a 1/2″ or 3/8″ thickness, in a gong shape with two “ears” that can be loosely chained to a target rack. This type of mounting allows the target to swing when hit, and then return to its original position.

The AR500 can be used for rifle, pistol and shotgun practice, depending on the distance, target thickness and type of ammo used. Because steel targets may cause sparks or flying metal debris, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Paper & Cardboard Shooting Targets

In contrast to steel targets, paper targets are not re-usable, but they offer other benefits. Paper or cardboard targets, which can easily be taped to a target board, are much cheaper than metal, and they provide a permanent record. Many different styles are available, with varying details that make practice more interesting, and potentially more useful.

For example, a paper target illustrated with specific animal physiology can help hunters bag more game. Targets with incremental rings or grids can help a competitive benchrest rifle shooter improve both accuracy and precision.

For those interested in handgun practice simulating self-defense scenarios, cardboard or paper silhouette targets made for the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) come with the official scoring rings, allowing shooters to improve their competitive skills.

From paper to clay to metal – the best shooting targets make target practice more productive and more enjoyable.


How to: A Beginner’s Guide To Welding

Welding two pieces of metal together forms a permanent bond in which the metals are heated to a melting point, mixed together and then cooled, creating a single object. This type of bond is stronger than other bonds, such as soldering, which can be reversed.

There are four basic types of welding: MIG, TIG, flux-cored, and stick. The process and welding techniques to be used depend on the application, the types of metal to be welded, and the skill and experience of the welder.

MIG Welding

New welders just learning how to weld should start with metal inert gas (MIG) welding, also known as gas metal arc welding (GMAW). MIG is a type of electric arc welding, which relies on creating an electrical circuit that runs through the objects to be welded together and a welding wire, which acts as an electrode.

When the welding wire touches the metal object, the circuit is completed. The wire is then pulled back a short distance, causing an electric arc that heats up to thousands of degrees Fahrenheit, melting the wire and partially melting the two pieces of metal. This creates a melt pool where all three metals merge to become one as it cools and solidifies, leaving a bead along the welded seam.

As the welding action continues down the seam, the wire melts off and more wire is fed continuously from the tip of the welding gun. At the same time, a gas is diffused from the gun, spreading around the arc to shield the welded area from contaminants in the air, such as oxygen and nitrogen.

TIG Welding

Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding requires more skill and takes longer than MIG welding, but it offers more precision. TIG, also known as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW), can be used to weld aluminum and alloys, such as 4130 chrom-moly.

TIG welding is similar to MIG, but instead of a consumable wire, the electrode used is a tungsten metal rod inside the welding gun. The welder holds the gun in one hand while feeding a filler rod in the other hand. As the arc creates a melt puddle from the two work pieces, the heat of the melt puddle melts the filler rod, so that all three mix together in the puddle. Like MIG welding, TIG welding guns disperse a shielding gas to protect the new weld.

A TIG welding machine also includes a foot pedal to adjust the current running through the electrical circuit created between the metal objects and the tungsten electrode. This can be used to slowly increase or decrease the heat applied to the metal, which can help prevent brittleness caused by thermal shock.

Flux-Cored Welding

A third type of welding, called flux-cored arc welding (FCAW), uses a continuously fed electrode tube in place of the wire used for MIG welding. The tube is metal on the outside, with a flux agent in the core. As the flux melts during welding action, it creates a liquid slag and gas that shields the weld from contaminants. This provides better protection for the weld than the shield gas used in MIG welding, especially where strong breezes might disperse the gas, but it also results in more spatter which must be cleaned up afterwards.

Stick Welding

Otherwise known as shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), stick welding is a two-handed method, like TIG. Stick welding uses a metal filler rod, or stick, coated with flux. As the stick material melts in the heat, the flux coating also melts, creating both a gas and a liquid slag, which act to shield the weld from oxidation. As with FCAW, shield gas does not have to be dispensed during the welding process but the leftover slag leaves a mess requiring cleanup using a sander or solvents.

Welding Equipment

Once the method of welding has been decided, the next step is to select the proper welding equipment. Welders can choose either a MIG welder or a MIG/Stick/TIG multi-process welder which can be used for all four basic types of arc welding.

Along with the proper machine, the next important piece of equipment required is a welding helmet to protect the face and especially the eyes, from the extreme heat and bright light created by the electric arc. The latest technology has made possible auto-darkening helmets with vision screens that instantly adjust to the light level so that the welder has constant visual input.

Welders also need sturdy leather gloves and shoes, as well as caps, long-sleeved cotton shirts, bibs, overalls, and/or aprons to protect their skin from sparks.

Welding Materials

Materials needed for welding include consumables, such as MIG wire and flux-cored wire in various diameters and materials, welding tips, electrode sticks or tubes, flux, and TIG or gas brazing rods.

Other useful equipment includes magnets and clamps to hold metal objects in place during welding, adjustable welding tables and workstands, and fiberglass welding blankets to prevent the spread of sparks.

Weld-on tabs in a variety of sizes and shapes are used to create flanges, holes, handles, and other mechanical parts when welded to a pipe or other metal object.

Welding Methods

Each welder develops his or her preferred welding techniques. One of the most commonly used is nicknamed “stacking dimes,” which ends up looking like a string of round coins overlapping along the length of the weld.

As the welding arc liquefies a small pool of metal, the welder pushes the melt pool ahead with the electrode, using a fluid motion similar to writing a series of the letter “e” in cursive. Alternative motions may be described as, “figure 8,” or “half-moon.” The key to each type of movement is to ensure that the electrode pushes the melt pool back and forth evenly between the two workpieces, so that both are fully welded.

Some welders prefer to pull, rather than push the melt pool along, depending on their handedness (right or left) and the position of the workpiece. When MIG welding, the choice is a personal preference.

With TIG, the welder pushes the puddle along the seam, making sure to move back and forth, all the while dipping the end of the rod in and out of the puddle with the other hand.

However, stick and flux-cored welding requires a pulling motion, to avoid welding over the melted flux slag, which creates porosity and “wormholes” in the finished weld.

Material Differences

Welding different types of metal varies, depending on the different physical characteristics of each. For example, stainless steel doesn’t transfer heat as well as other metals, so it’s easy to build up too much heat in the weld area, causing the steel to warp and reducing its corrosion resistance. To control the heat, reduce the current on the welding machine and speed up the movement of the torch.

Compared with all types of steel, aluminum has a much higher thermal conductivity, as well as a lower melting point. It is also highly reactive to air, creating a hard oxidation layer on the surface. Because this oxidation layer melts at a much higher temperature than the aluminum underneath, it must be removed with a wire brush or chemical solvent before the welding begins.

Aluminum can be welded using both TIG and MIG methods, but aluminum filler wire is quite soft and can easily get tangled in the wire feeder of a MIG gun. To prevent this, use a Teflon or plastic liner in the wire feeder and guide tubes to support the wire from the feeder to the gun.

Aluminum welding requires a higher amperage welding machine and faster welding speed than steel to avoid “burning through” the base metal, melting a hole with too much heat. Aluminum welds also must be well protected from oxidation with an inert shield gas, such as argon.


How to Rust Metal

It’s understandable that most people want to prevent their cars and power tools from rusting, but some steel objects actually gain character from having a nice rusty patina. With a few household chemicals, it’s easy to speed the oxidation process along. Below, we’ve shared the basic steps to give your outdoor decorations a charming, weathered look.

  1. Buy Materials: You might already have some of these products in your pantry, so scan through the house before buying anything. To give your steel that rusty finish, you’ll need table salt, white vinegar, and degreaser, along with measuring cups/spoons and a spray bottle. We also recommend you buy a new bottle of hydrogen peroxide, instead of using an old one in your medicine cabinet. For safety purposes, you should be wearing goggles and chemical resistant gloves at all times. Remember, you’re going to be combining harmful chemicals, so be careful!
  1. Degrease the Steel: After stripping your steel of any coating or paint, the metal will be ready for degreasing. Read the degreaser bottle’s instructions as you apply it to the metal, and take care not to touch it with your bare hands. You want the degreaser to work its magic, but you don’t want to add more oil and dirt in the process.
  1. Pickle the Steel: Yes, the next step is just like pickling cucumbers, only here you’re pickling steel. This helps to create a uniform coat of rust, instead of certain areas being rustier than others. Pour some white vinegar into the spray bottle and then spray every inch of the metal object. Let it dry in the sun, and then repeat several more times. Now, your steel will be ready for the main event.
  1. Make It Rusty: So you’ve prepped the metal object for rusting, but how does the oxidation process actually happen? First, you’ll need to create a rusting solution by combining 16oz hydrogen peroxide, 2oz white vinegar, and ½ tablespoon of salt. If possible, mix this solution in the spray bottle with some of the leftover white vinegar. Shake it up so that everything mixes well, and then start spraying down your object. If the rusting doesn’t start happening immediately, you may need to put your object in direct sunlight for a while. Heat helps the process.

After you spray the metal, let it dry, and then repeat for about 7 cycles, your steel should look like it’s aged years. Make sure you don’t touch the rust until it has fully dried out, because it might rub off. The longer it stays in the sun, the better.


How to Stop Rust

Rust on any object — whether it’s a car, power tool, or a bridge — is an unattractive and often dangerous phenomenon that should be prevented whenever possible. Typically, rust occurs when metal is exposed to water and oxygen for a prolonged period of time. Iron and oxygen combine to form iron oxide, whose properties create the flaky orange-yellow coating that we all know as rust. The initial corrosion is fairly easy to remove, but wait too long, and you’ll have a car destined for the junkyard. Below, we’ve outlined five approaches to defeating rust before it spreads.

  1. Bluing: By dipping metal objects into a solution of water, sodium hydroxide, and potassium nitrate, you give them a strong corrosion resistance. This technique is often used with guns and clocks, and the name refers to the metal’s bluish finish when immersed in the solution.
  1. Clean Your Car Regularly: It may go without saying, but washing and waxing your car is extremely important for rust prevention. Dirt can also accumulate underneath your car over time, retaining moisture, so it’s smart to spray the undercarriage often as well. Although new cars are coated with the latest chemicals to fight against rust, vintage vehicles require an attentive eye to ensure that they remain drivable.
  1. Invest in Rust Prevention Products: These over-the-counter chemicals can be found in a variety of application styles — from aerosol sprays to cloth wipes. It all depends on the object you’re trying to protect. For small tools and outdoor gear, we recommend the Sentry Solutions TUF-CLOTH. For vehicles and larger metal parts, the Boeshield T-9 aerosol can was originally designed by Boeing Aviation for their aircraft components, so it does the job.
  1. Install a Dehumidifier: By controlling the exact amount of moisture in the air, you can slow down the oxidation process in your garage, basement, or any other sealed work space. If you own or work with valuable metal objects, it’s definitely worth the small initial investment.

5. Scrape Off Rust Immediately: Rust spreads like an infection, so it’s important to deal with oxidation as soon as it appears. To help slow down the process, you can scrape off loose rust pieces with a razor blade and then scrub the affected area with warm water and soap. Finally, apply a metal conditioner to prevent further rusting, and then put a new coat of paint on the area (if necessary).


How to Bend Sheet Metal

If you don’t have a special tool for bending sheet metal (called a “sheet metal brake”), you can also do it with a vise and your bare hands, provided that the metal isn’t too thick. Below, we’ve outlined the basic materials and steps needed to bend metal for your own hobbies.

  1. Buy the Right Materials: To do the job correctly, you’ll need a vise, two form blocks (wood or metal), a calculator, protractor, tape measure, mallet, and something to write with. Depending on the metal’s thickness, you may also need a heavy-duty hammer instead of a mallet.
  1. Assess the Metal: First, use your tape measure to figure out how thick the sheet metal is, and then plug that number into this formula: (π/180) x B x (IR + K x MT).

MT is the metal thickness, K is the K-Factor (find it with this chart), IR is the inside radius, and B is the desired bend angle. With the formula completed, you’ll find the bend allowance, which is precisely how many inches the metal will expand when bent.

  1. Get Ready to Bend: Before putting the sheet metal into a vise, first mark your bend lines with a pencil, and then cut the sheet so that at least ¼” of extra room is left over. Finally, make sure the sheet is filed down smoothly, because otherwise you may get cracks in the metal.
  1. Place Forms and Sheet in Vise: Your form blocks should have the exact shape for bending your metal angle. When you clamp the sheet metal into the vise’s grip, make sure the bend lines on your blocks and sheet match up. If there is too much play in the metal and it feels wobbly when you put pressure on it, you might want to ask a friend to hold the top while you use the mallet.
  1. Bend the Metal: Lastly, you should lightly tap the sheet with a soft mallet, going from one end of the bend line to the other. This way, you’ll avoid unsightly dents and ensure that your final bend is strong.