Build Your Own Manual Hydraulic Press Brake

For the average shop, a need often arises for a quick method of bending custom brackets for all the various small custom jobs that 4wd fabrication shops seem to be getting into. OK, so we decided we needed one, but what exactly did we need?  We proceeded to sit down and get a general idea of what type of bending capacities that we required in the shop on a day to day basis.  Next, we looked at what was commercially available to us.  What we discovered from our extensive research was equipment that we felt was overkill for our current needs and our budget.  After looking at what was available, we felt comfortable that we could design and construct something fairly inexpensively that would suit us just fine to start out with.  Smaller Fab shops and home builders usually have one of two reasons for building their own tooling. The first one being they are unable to justify the initial expense, or they plainly cannot afford a dedicated large press brake.  We, of course, fell into that second category!

After doing our required research and note taking, we started to accumulate what we thought we needed.  We purchased the steel we felt was required for the male and female dies and scrounged up the remaining raw materials from stock we had laying around the shop.  We know everyone may not have all the necessary steel just hanging out in their garage, but we are sure everyone has a friend or two that has access to small pieces of steel via work, relatives, etc.  A week or two of scrounging and a resourceful individual should have acquired everything that is needed for the project at a minimal cost.  Now lets “Git-R-Done!!”  The first part of the plan for us was the initial design of the press.  As Matt is an Engineer (Geek), nothing at Mad4wd comes as an off the cuff design.  All of us at the shop are surrounded by AutoCAD drawings, 3D Solidworks models and tons of various sketches, drawings and other doodles that seem to spawn from his desk.  This does have good points though; things get done around here correctly the first time.  Matt proceeded to first put pencil to paper, and then fingers to keyboard and the drawings started flowing from the printer like cheap beer at a fraternity party.

Our initial design considerations were very simple.  We wanted to be able to bend brackets past 90 degrees, and also wanted the ability to make 2 bends within 2 inches of each other.

Three factors need to be taken into account when designing a press brake.

  • Type of Material.
  • Thickness of Material
  • Width of Material

The type of material taken into account is mild steel (A36 is very common).  Thicknesses of materials will be ranging anywhere from 1/8” to 1/4″.  Width of material will have a maximum of 10 inches.  The values in the chart below were developed from die manufacturers and engineering reference books

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