When it comes to working on your hot rod there are a number of major categories, such as engine building, wiring, paint and bodywork, upholstery, and lots of metalworking. While all the groups are popular, as we are always writing stories and answering questions on all of them, there's one that always stands out as the one commanding the most interest: metalworking. We aren't sure if everyone is doing their own metalwork but one thing is for sure—everyone wants to know as much as they can about the process.

So, tools are important. The Eastwood Tool Company has lots to offer in the way of tools and their line of metalworking products is all encompassing. This month let's take a look at the Eastwood Versa-Bend Metal Brake (PN 14042). Talk about a handy tool but one that isn't always in use except when you need it, it sure beats bending metal over the edge of the workbench. The Versa-Bend brake can be permanently affixed to a workbench but if your garage is like so many others, space is at a premium. Having a heavy-duty tool that can be taken out and put away really saves on available workspace. Such is the case for this metal brake. It can be mounted to your bench or it can be mounted in a heavy-duty vice. Once your project is complete it is a simple process to take the brake down and store it away for next time. But you are now left with sheetmetal that is bent quickly and conforms to the needs of your project.

The Eastwood brake is ideal for bends up to 100 degrees and has a removable front fence that will allow you to make bends (or joggles) within a 1/2 inch of one another. You can also fabricate using 20-gauge steel, or aluminum up to 20 inches wide; or 18-gauge steel, or aluminum up to 10 inches wide. This will allow you to fabricate floor reinforcement channels and ribs, sections of corrugated pickup bed floors, truck bedside panels, inner fender structures, and much more. This versatility will allow you to make your own custom patch panels, door panels, or a wide variety of other pieces.

The brake makes a nice "hard" bend with a "sharp" straight line. However, should you want a soft corner you can take a piece of angle iron and place it in the brake and make your bend with the parent metal resting against the angle iron creating a gentle bend.

The Eastwood Versa-Bend brake consists of an offset metal brake assembly, a pair of actuating rods, one vice mount take and hardware, two bench mount brackets, and necessary hardware.

Eastwood Tech Tips

  • If you don't already have one, get an auto-darkening welding helmet—it will make you a better welder!
  • When disassembling an intricate part, take pictures of every step so you can reference how it goes back together.