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Bending 1/8" Steel Plate

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Mike Donnerstag12/05/2020 21:55:12
201 forum posts
45 photos

I'm sure this should be a simple one: I'm making the Hemingway Myford Spindle Driving Handle (mandrel handle) and I need to bend two angles on the 1/8" thick mild steel bar for the crank (around 7/8" wide). The bend radius is not critical, though the two angles need to be 'reasonably' accurate to ensure the two ends of the bar end up parallel (like a Z, though with obtuse not acute angles). I have already shaped the piece and drilled the two holes.

The tools I normally use to bend (much thinner) sheet steel are:

  • A large Record engineer's vice
  • Two long pieces of 5mm angle iron
  • A handled Sykes Pickavant tool made from tool steel that is used for bashing onto without bruising the work
  • A big hammer!

I also have a MAPP gas torch that may be useful to soften the steel prior to bending. If I use this, does the bend area need to be heated to red hot or would the steel soften enough to bend it at a lower heat?

I assume that many people on this forum have done a similar thing with 1/8" sheet steel. I'd be very grateful for any advice you have for me, including how I might apply the necessary leverage.

As always, many thanks in anticipation,


Edited By Mike Donnerstag on 12/05/2020 22:21:57

not done it yet12/05/2020 22:34:47
6438 forum posts
20 photos

I would try my ‘CZ universal metal bender’. It will bend 5mm ally in that width but not sure about its capacity in steel. It is so useful that I would not risk breaking it. I expect it would be OK, mind.

Chronos do the more recent version - they hype it up a bit and call it a universal multipurpose metal bender.🙂

They say it will bend up to 40mm wide and 4mm thick metal - but they don’t say both dimensions are possible at the same time!

Price has risen by 3 times (not that much in real terms), but quality is likely less than the original. Mine was made in the mid-1980s, I believe.

I doubt the above will actually help you for this project, but my CZ does get used occasionally for all sorts of bending duties. A useful tool for those that have them.

Ady112/05/2020 22:46:44
4813 forum posts
717 photos

cz bender


Brian Oldford12/05/2020 22:48:56
686 forum posts
18 photos

Assuming your vise is fixed to your bench securely my guess is it would bend OK cold with judicious use of a large hammer.

duncan webster12/05/2020 23:14:42
3588 forum posts
66 photos

If you've got an electric welder you can carefully saw halfway through on the bend lines ( on the outside) then bend the bar, then run a bead of weld along the now opened up slit. Try it out on a short bit.

Hopper12/05/2020 23:20:49
5505 forum posts
137 photos

It's 7/8 x 1/8" flat bar so no big deal. Hold it in the vice and bend it. Wang it with a hammer if it needs it.

Paul Lousick12/05/2020 23:54:12
1868 forum posts
666 photos

If this is the driving handle. You should be able to just hold each end in a vice and bend it by hand. For a bit more leverage use a large shifting spanner (universal metric/imperial tool that fits every nut), or wack it with a hammer as suggested.

Note: If you have to make a tight bend or bend thicker steel, it has to be red hot at the bend. You have to be quick and do it while it is still red.


driving handle.jpg

Pete.13/05/2020 00:37:21
703 forum posts
181 photos
Posted by duncan webster on 12/05/2020 23:14:42:

If you've got an electric welder you can carefully saw halfway through on the bend lines ( on the outside) then bend the bar, then run a bead of weld along the now opened up slit. Try it out on a short bit.

I use this method all the time, it's a great way to produce very tidy bends exactly where you want them.

Enough!13/05/2020 01:54:24
1719 forum posts
1 photos

(Probably stating the obvious but ....) If you're bending in a vice, it might be better to start with a really long piece of bar, for leverage, and cut it afterwards.

Edited By Bandersnatch on 13/05/2020 01:55:12

Paul Lousick13/05/2020 04:27:47
1868 forum posts
666 photos

Tthe original post said that holes were already drilled so assumed that it was also cut to length.


Ron Laden13/05/2020 05:27:24
2253 forum posts
446 photos

Simples just use the 3 pin/bar method, cut 3 pieces of steel bar in your case about 1 inch diameter or use whatever you have its not critical and tape them to your vice see pic below.

Place your steel between them making sure its horizontal and the 3 bars are vertical but again not super critical. Tighten the vice until you achieve the required angle. Your 7/8" x 1/8" bar will bend easily in your large vice with little effort.

A pic below of a quick set to give you the idea, no heating, cutting or bashing.

p. s. If you want a tighter bend just close up the centres between the 3 pins and use a smaller dia on the single pin though depending on the angle it may need spacing off to allow clearance between the bar and fixed jaw. Also if you want more of an angle you can use larger dia pins to give more clearance between the vice Jaws. 



Edited By Ron Laden on 13/05/2020 05:33:36

Edited By Ron Laden on 13/05/2020 05:41:45

Edited By Ron Laden on 13/05/2020 06:05:34

Nicholas Farr13/05/2020 08:06:08
3048 forum posts
1384 photos

Hi Mike, you shouldn't need to heat a piece of steel of this size. It will bend cold in a various ways, Ron Laden's idea is a good one, but setting it up can be a bit fiddley, another way is to hold the bar in the vice horizontally on the long part (depending on the width of your vice jaws) with the section you want to bend sticking out the side and use an adjustable spanner to bend it, this Vice Jaw Benders is also a very useful tool to have for the odd jobs like this, which they do in three different sizes, Axminster do a similar one Metal Bender which is a bit cheaper, but has a fixed width.

Regards Nick.

P.S. I've actually made an attachment with a backstop for a 6" Vice Jaw Bender, which is shown in Fly Press Tool

Edited By Nicholas Farr on 13/05/2020 08:16:52

JasonB13/05/2020 08:24:39
21629 forum posts
2493 photos
1 articles

As Nick says an adjustable spanner and vice are the quickest way for a simple bend in small section material like this. Hold work horizontal or vertical, distance from vice to spanner sets bend radius, eyeball the second end.

This is 25 x 3 steel. Toolklonger to type than do!


Edited By JasonB on 13/05/2020 08:57:18

Mike Donnerstag13/05/2020 08:24:49
201 forum posts
45 photos

Thank you all so much for the information. I have my big engineering vice bolted to a big chunk of wood that I hold in my 9" woodworking vice, so it won't be anywhere near as solid as being mounted directly to the bench, but I'll give it a go bending the steel cold later (once I've walked the dog!). I'll also look into buying one of the vice jaw benders, though I have to admit it isn't often I have to bend something this thick.

Once again, many thanks to all,


Nigel McBurney 113/05/2020 08:55:48
945 forum posts
3 photos

Be careful with a CZ metal bender,good tool,bent lots of things until I tried some 6 mm stainless rod,the alloy casting broke,keep meaning to replace the casting with a copy made from wrought alloy but still on to do list.When bending in the vice ,the serrated vice jaws will mark the work,so protect the work with some some material such as aluminium,another trick to get a smooth bend is to use a thicker soft jaw on the inside of the bend and file a radius on the end of the thick jaw, then hammer the steel around this radius, result is a smooth bend with no jaw marks.

Mike Donnerstag13/05/2020 09:20:51
201 forum posts
45 photos

It worked perfectly (well, certainly satisfactorily) with a 15” adjustable wrench and some scrap metal ‘padding’ between the jaws. No bashing, only leverage needed.

Once again, many thanks to everyone who replied. I love this forum!


Lainchy13/05/2020 09:34:46
271 forum posts
103 photos

I have to bend some 1/8" steel plate for my Juliet II... it needs a z bend in it offsetting the reversing lever by 1/4". I have no idea how I'm going to do that yet. I should imagine that 1/8" will need some pounding to do that, or plenty heat.

JasonB13/05/2020 10:07:39
21629 forum posts
2493 photos
1 articles

If it is more of a jog than a bend then stand two bits of 1/8" thick material vertically in the vice and have the part you want horizontal going behind one vertical and in front of the other then close the vice up tight. Distance between the verticals will be length of the jog. Or you can make a pair of stepped blocks with one side 1/8" higher than the other and squeeze the bar between them.

Edited By JasonB on 13/05/2020 10:09:04

Glyn Davies13/05/2020 10:30:57
133 forum posts
46 photos

This is the similar handle I made and it is very useful if you don't have a VFD with jog function. I use it for thread cutting with taps and dies and also screwcutting. Even used it to true up the lathe motor drive pulley!

However, if you start the lathe with it still fitted and it whacks your elbow, it don't half hurt. So make it a habit to disconnect the back gear, turn the reversing switch to off and turn off the main power when you fit it.


Circlip13/05/2020 12:47:08
1382 forum posts

+1 for Ron's illustration

Regards Ian.

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