View Full Version : Harbor FReight Box/Pan brake, roller
04-27-2011, 08:41 PM
Anyone used the Harbor Freight pan/box brake (the one with the roller, also). I have the chance to get in on making some small, lightweight 'boxes' as chassis' for Boiutique Guitar Amplifiers.
I have their regular 36" sheet metal brake, and its been just fine (I never overlad its capabilities), But I cannot do boxes with it.
The HF one is currently on sale for just under $400... and perhaps someone knows a better one for less? :confused:
04-27-2011, 11:25 PM
I have one. I bought it for the space limitation and the wire grooves. I bought mine at TSC but it's the same as the Grizzly and Hardon Fright models.
Grizzly has the manual for their's online for download. I downloaded their manual. It's a better manual than the cryptic one that came with mine. It details the adjustments for the blade to bed alignment and setting up the fingers in relationship to the forming die.
Probably the most involved part was disassembling the entire machine and cleaning all the preservative off. That involved a complete tear down
Mine works really well so long as I stay within the gage parameters. The upper slip rolls are adjustable at both ends so you can roll conical shapes and it has enough fingers on the brake to allow for plenty of adjustment for width.
You'll need to radius the end of the handles and break the sharp edges or you'll get bloody fingers turning them and the cheap plastic adjustment knobs for the slip roll adjustment need to be replaced with real metal knobs.
I tool some time to set up the shear to table gap across the entire bed. It shears paper towels as well as steel.
I also replaced the crappy grease fittings with Alemite fittings. The eccentrics are bronze lined and the crank ends are bushed as well plus there is a tension adjustment to take the bow out of the shear blade.
Not bad for a third world tool.
It's a heavy bugger.
04-28-2011, 12:16 PM
Thanks, 'flip, Yeah, I noticed the weight...did it come in one crate or a couple boxes, or?? :confused:
04-28-2011, 01:07 PM
I bought the one from HF. Both it and the one from TSC come completely assembled. As Flip mentioned, you'll have to take it apart when you get it. Mine had one bolt missing in the crosspiece that supports the upper shear blade. The side frame was mis-drilled, so I have another on the way. Should be here sometime before Christmas next year. It works fine without it though. I was able to get much of the oil off of it without disassembly, and it even comes with a half-can of brake cleaner. The thing that I thought was important was to remove the paint and paper from between mating surfaces. After scraping all of those surfaces clean, and reassembling it, it's been working great for me. I'm only using it on aluminum for the most part. I did cut some 20 ga CRS, but it seemed like more than I would want to do on it on a regular basis.
04-28-2011, 01:13 PM
Here's my review of the brake upon uncrating it. I posted this on the Metalmeet forum.
"Well, I have a project that I need to get done, so I don't have time to build or search out tools. I bought a HF 3-in-1 roll/shear/brake. It was on sale, and I used a 20% coupon, so it was less than $350 out the door. I know it needs a little TLC, but I will do my best to stay within its limits. If I do that, hopefully, I won't be having to search out or make replacement parts.
That said, to get the 300# machine out of the back of my truck, I decided to partially disassemble it. Worked great! And I'm glad I did, because it helped me identify a few areas that need some work before I put it to use.
Hopefully, this will serve as a guide for those purchasing this machine, as well. I will get some pictures posted, but for now, words will have to do. I would be interested in how my findings compare to the Jet, Grizzly, Wholesale Tool, Enco, etc. flavors.
1) First thing I noticed while disassembling the machine is that the only mating surface that is bare metal is the area where the shear/lower brake die rides. All others are painted on both sides. I'm sure that it doesn't turn a diamond into a lump of coal, but I'm cleaning the paint off of all of those machined surfaces so that the pieces fit as squarely as the surfaces allow.
2) The second thing is that the part that the shear/lower brake die rides on has at least one mis-drilled hole. While cleaning surfaces, I noticed that one bolt was missing. When I used another bolt to see if it would fit so I could buy another, it would not thread in. It is visibly mis-aligned. I removed the bar altogether and took some measurements. Three of the hole pairs (1 in the uprights and 2 on the ends of the cross piece) are spaced the same. The fourth is about 0.080" too wide. Easy enough to work around, but I think I'll call HF and see if they will send me a replacement. Unfortunately, to replace it means I'll have to completely disassemble that end.
3) The truss that supports the moving shear has a bolt that pushes on the cross piece. The truss is not threaded. It simply has a hole with a bolt through it. On the backside of the truss is a nut on that bolt. Then the end of the bolt presses directly on the back of the cross piece. I will at least place a piece of steel there to distribute that force a bit and prevent the bolt starting any cracks. I will likely weld a piece of 3/8" pipe to that steel and then use a piece of all-thread and 2 nuts to apply force. I am not sure how secure the ends of the truss are. It is held in place by a bolt at each end which is in a threaded hole in the cross piece.
4) The lower brake die is something that many have complained about, it seems. The problem typically is that only very sharp bends can be performed on the brake. That is relatively easy to fix. But, I also found that the edges of the lower are very rough. The working surface was apparently machined first, then the front and back were machined, leaving a burr on the working surface. I can probably just take a file and knock it down. I'll see if the rest of it is too rough too. I can imagine the marks it must leave on a work piece.
I intend not to use the existing brake dies anyway most of the time. I need the lower die to be segmented or relieved so that I can put a bend in part of an edge. It's a little hard to describe. I have a leaf brake now that has a lowered bed and a custom clamping bar. The leaf is also custom, but allows for different inserts. My existing brake will accomplish the bends that I need to do, but if I can do this on a press brake, I think it will save me some time. So, I will fab up a new lower die that will clamp to the top of the existing lower die. Then I can make a new upper, as well that will work with it to do what I want.
So far, that is all I can find that "really" needs improvement. I am sure that I have mis-labeled something. I don't know the technical names for these pieces as they differ in function from those in discrete tools. Again, I'll get pics up here. Hopefully they will help. Again, toss your ideas and experiences up here, too. I hear from some that these are not worth the money. And I hear from others that they are a godsend. Some have only seen broken machines. Others say it does everything as advertised with no issues. I guess now's the time to place your bets on how mine fairs."
04-28-2011, 01:13 PM
"I stopped in at HF today to pick up some punches. I asked about getting the mis-drilled part replaced and they said I could just bring back the machine and they would swap it out. I'm not liking the idea of loading it back up again. So, I asked if they could order the replacement and I would just bring back the faulty part. They said they could take the piece off of the floor display. Nobody, including the manager had a clue what I was talking about, so I showed him. He said to just call the number and if they couldn't get it taken care of, then to let him know and he would make sure it was corrected. I believe he will. I just didn't want them to have to take apart (and I mean it would have to be completely disassembled) the floor display or a NIB machine for this.
Mind you, I am not complaining. I sometimes get a little miffed when I'm at an auto parts store and ask for a part and receive back a blank stare. At HF, though, I do know that some of them really don't know anything about what they have except the SKU and whether it is on sale or not. And I do not expect top-of-the-line knowledge when I pay bargain-basement prices. If the machine does what I expect of it, it's still a good value in my eyes."
04-28-2011, 01:14 PM
Last bit so far...
"Just thought I should update the condition of my 3-in-1...
I did call the HF hotline and they are shipping me replacement parts, free of charge, and no questions asked. I kinda think that if you called back with the same receipt and asked for a different piece each time, you could just start assembling spare machines in your garage.. They said 6-8 weeks, so I'll plan on 3 months. No biggie, as the machine still works.
In the other current 3-1 thread it was mentioned that they use Bondo to make the machines look nice. It has been my experience that the practice is not isolated to cheap stuff from China. Anyway, there is a bit of Bondo filling the area below the bolt hole for the shear bed. It was pressed out when I reinserted the bolt. The tightening started getting a little spongy right about there, but I'm not sure if that was because of the Bondo giving way, or if the casting was starting to part, but I stopped until I can investigate more, or the replacement gets here. (I asked for one, just in case it is broken.)
Anyway, so far, the machine has worked great on the 0.040" 2024-T3 I am using. It had to work a little harder to shear a foot of 20 ga steel, but as that is the spec'd limit, I am not surprised. Actually, I am a little surprised that nothing broke. I don't plan on pushing it too hard. I think that is where many of these machines get broken."
"BTW, I am currently working on a fence system much like a tablesaw. This way, for repeat cuts, I can set up different fences for the necessary angles and put stops in place for getting the depth the same. Should make for a nice machine. Of course, I'm also working on a lot of other things, too. So, I'm not sure when this will be operational."