Tips for bending aluminum sheets?

Posted: 3/30/2013 4:12:45 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

Related to a Theremin build I'm working on... I would like to bend some sheet aluminum for a front panel, but I'm having a hard time getting it to come out at a right angle and unscratched. Anyone have some quick tips?

Posted: 3/30/2013 8:42:42 PM
Chainsaw Willie!

From: Just a short walk away from Nike Missile Site S-13/14

Joined: 1/28/2011

What tools are you using?  A proper sheet metal break, homebrew break, or are ya just clamping it in a vise and mashing it over with a mallet?  How thick is your material?

Posted: 3/31/2013 4:23:30 AM
Jeff S

From: N.E. Ohio

Joined: 2/14/2005

Here's a webpage that confirms pretty much what I thought...

http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/threads/43079-Bending-aluminum-plate-without-cracking-it

Posted: 3/31/2013 11:26:51 AM
coalport

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

This is such a bizarre coincidence!

 

I am in the middle of a project to build a replica of the great silver lyre of Ur. It's off topic for this forum, so I would never have mentioned it here, but the wooden frame is completed and I am now about to embark on adding the metal sheeting.

 

Silver sheeting in sizes large enough for this instrument is extremely expensive and would probably cost close to $1000.00, so I am planning on using aluminum instead (which I can get at the local hardware store). I work pretty well with wood and have built the frame of the lyre from red oak but I know nothing about bending aluminum. 

 

Here is a video of a replica of the silver lyre that was built under the direction of archeomusicologist, Professor Richard Dumbrill. 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSbLi4O0gM4

Posted: 3/31/2013 12:06:18 PM
FredM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

" It's off topic for this forum, so I would never have mentioned it here, " - Coalport

Really OT ? I dont think so, Peter - If musical toothpicks and unmusical goggles and sensor taps are not OT, then why should a musical instrument like a Lyre be?

I think its time for a "Other musical instruments" forum here on TW! - Personally, I would love to read about the "off theremin" musical activities / projects of other members!

As for bending aluminium - I cheat!  I learned some years ago, after investing in some low-end tools like guillotine and bending jigs, that its cheaper to just get a local metalwork shop to do the job for me - Yes, its great to pick up the skills and do everything oneself - But there are so many things to do, and so little time, that, IMO, unless the time spent aquiring a skill has long-term payoff, its better to spend that time on something you really enjoy, or something which has more long-term payoff.

Fred.

Posted: 3/31/2013 2:42:35 PM
coalport

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

I have all sorts of non-theremin-related musical instrument building projects going on all the time and I usually don't mention them until such time as I make a video or audio recording of the instrument accompanying a theremin. Only then does it seem relevant to the forum.

Last month I built a "chelys" and made the following video. I haven't mentioned it here before so you may not have seen it....... I did mention it on the LevNet but not everyone follows both LevNet & TW.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IjCeN5XvUA

Posted: 3/31/2013 3:40:19 PM
FredM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as WaveCrafter.com . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

"Last month I built a "chelys" and made the following video. I haven't mentioned it here before so you may not have seen it....... " - Coalport

I hadnt seen it - I do usually check for new you-tube postings by you, and have the convienience that I am allowed to play your stuff (even theremin!) anywhere in the house.. Other theremin stuff is confined to my lab if I dont want to be shouted at for several hours thereafter..

Posting a link to this is "legitimate" here anyway, as it has theremin in it (I really love the chelys!)..

But I think it would be real sad if we are denied notification of brilliant projects like this, just because they arent theremins - Yes, I suppose it could become a problem if other "non theremin" stuff became too predominant, and for example the focus shifted entirely to keyboard or continuum based synthesisers..

But for me, my primary interest is musical instruments / sounds / music, not exclusively theremins.. So if TW expands outside of its "theremins" remit I would much prefer this to be so as to encompass other musical instruments rather than to encompass noise making toothpicks, goggles, and capacitive sensing taps!

Thanks for sharing that link, Peter! - If you ever have a non-theremin project you inhibited about posting, email me.. I will then post some unrelated thread with a "cue" you can exploit! LOL ;-) ... The above is entirely in humour - You, of all people here, do not need any "excuse" to post whatever you want!

Fred.

Posted: 3/31/2013 6:02:44 PM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

So, I'm using 3/32" aluminum sheet from the hardware store.  I tried clamping it between two pieces of hardwood (for a nice straight edge) and bending it over with hand force.  The resulting bend is a little too round for my tastes.  I will try the rubber mallet approach too.  I didn't want to invest in more tools (did I really just say that?) for this project, so maybe finding a local fabricator will have to do.

Posted: 4/1/2013 12:07:38 AM
coalport

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

Jason, I've been experimenting with .011 (roughly 4/32nds of an inch) aluminum sheeting. Have you tried scoring your sheet with an exacto knife before bending? This might give you a cleaner, sharper angle. The trick seems to be to press hard enough to weaken the metal just where you want your fold, but not to press so hard that it breaks when you bend it.

Posted: 4/1/2013 3:44:41 AM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

I haven't tried that - thanks for the suggestion. I assume you're scoring the inside of the bend?  I hope to finish up the project this week, and then I'll post pictures.

You must be logged in to post a reply. Please log in or register for a new account.