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Any idea how to bend aluminum plate smoothly?


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  #1 Steve W

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 05:47 PM

I'm still fooling with my mast step, and the plans call for a 1 and 1/2 X 4" 3/16 plate stock bent a the 3/4 mark about 30 degrees. I know a brake is what I really need, but short of that, any ideas? I can beat it with a hammer, but I think thats a bad idea.

Take Care,
Steve

  #2 PAR

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 11:02 PM

It depends on the aluminum alloy, but yes you can beat on it. Several little taps work better then a few heavy swats. Heat works too, but you have to be careful, as it's real easy to use too much, which will cause it to crack during the bend. If bending 6061 use a generous radius. 5052 is better in this regard. The general rule is keep the inside radius of the bend at least the thickness of the material.

Use a vise and slowly hammer it over. If you can clamp something in there with it that has a small radius on it the better. If you force it over a crisp edge, it'll crack for sure.

  #3 Hirilonde

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 11:21 PM

Are you making the tang for the boom vang and halyard blocks? If so, there are much better choices for material than aluminum, especially for bending. I used stainless steel. But bronze and even some brass alloys work well too. They will bend as well if not better and be less susceptible to corrosion. I bent mine in a vice by slowly hammering it.

Dave Finnegan

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  #4 Steve W

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 05:25 AM

Thanks for the responses so quickly. Based on what you wrote, I put the piece in a vice and hammerred it. It deformed just a bit, but it's soft enought I flattened it a bit with a file, and it looks nice. I radiused it and it is ready for holes. One thing I like about this process is learning new skills.

As for the material choice, the plans call for aluminum or stainless, and I had a piece of aluminum. One really nice thing about aluminum is that you can cut it with a carbide blade on a tablesaw like butter.

Take Care,
Steve




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