How To Bend Sheet Metal With Common Tools

If you've got scrap sheet metal around, you can put it to use in projects to save material costs. Here's a cool trick for bending thin-gauge sheet metal without needing a brake.

On our farm, we’ve got an old outbuilding and a dream to build a party barn. Progress is coming along nicely. We’re looking forward to having a gathering space on the farm that spares or house the added foot traffic.

As part of the project, I’m installing a homemade vent hood. I really wanted to use material found during property cleanup, so I pieced it together using found parts. And that includes scrap metal I came across on the farm.

But this involves bending barn tin metal pieces into shape for the hood, which reminded me of a common question: How do you bend sheet metal without a bending brake?

I have an easy way to bend thin-gauge sheet metal pieces and get the job done.

Read more: Learn to weld so you can fix your own farm equipment!

What You Need

Luckily, this method for bending sheet metal pieces doesn’t require a lot of tools. In fact, you probably have the items required laying around.

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  • two pieces of angle iron to make a “sandwich”
  • flat-bladed screwdriver to score the metal
  • a couple of clamps
  • sawhorse

Read more: Do you have a metal detector? Every farmer should consider this purchase.


First, place a piece of angle iron against the sawhorse. This will be the bottom part of your “sandwich.”

Next, lay your piece of scrap tin on the angle iron where you want the bend. Place the second piece of angle iron on top of this, then clamp everything down. Make sure your long edge is out when you do this so you can use the weight from the longer edge to your mechanical advantage. (It’s easier to bend a longer length.)

With everything clamped in place, use the screwdriver blade to score the scrap metal along the edge of the angle iron. Run the blade along this track a few times to make a visible line. (You can watch me do this in the video above.)

Once you’ve scored the metal, you can simply bend the metal up along the scored line to make your bend. So long as you have the pieces clamped good, the bend should be pretty easy. If you need a tight edge, you can use a hammer to create that.

Remove the clamps and top angle edge. You can then complete the bend by hand for a clean edge.

Watch the video above to see how I bent found scrap metal for my homemade vent hood.


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