What is a Sheetmetal Brake?

J. Beam

A sheetmetal brake is a piece of equipment used to bend or shape metal. There are numerous instances in which a sheetmetal brake is regularly used, but they all involve the shaping of metal. Examples of industries in which a sheetmetal brake is frequently used include commercial siding and window installation, heating and ventilation, manufacturing, and body shops. Gutter and downspout installers also use a sheetmetal brake in their work.

Sheetmetal brake is frequently used in window installation industries.
Sheetmetal brake is frequently used in window installation industries.

In manufacturing, sheetmetal brakes are large, often electronic pieces of equipment that trained workers operate to consistently churn out parts to manufacturing specifications. In the aforementioned examples of siding, windows, gutters, and downspouts, installers most often use a hand-operated, portable sheetmetal brake. There are different designs and uses for sheetmetal brakes, ranging from industrial fabrication to garage workshops.

Sheetmetal fabricators using advanced equipment that weighs thousands of pounds are trained not only to use the equipment, but also to understand manufacturing specifications and to follow diagrams. The smaller, lighter weight versions that siding and window installers carry on trucks are not as advanced, but they still perform the same basic job of shaping metal. Bending sheetmetal is a necessary task in all sorts of fields. Part of what a sheetmetal brake is designed to do is to hold a piece of metal steady while another part applies ample, even pressure to create a bend in the metal.

For projects around the house, most large tool rental companies can provide rented access to a sheetmetal brake. A homeowner wishing to replace a piece of aluminum siding, a downspout, a gutter, or window flashing may find this useful. However, if you are engineering some sort of artisan project involving metal and need a specific piece or two, it is best to ask a metal fabrication shop to create the piece you need. Most likely, the job will be performed better and will cost no more than what the sheetmetal brake rental might have cost.

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