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What is a ‘Brake’?

If you have ever seen a home that is vinyl sided (perhaps even the one you live in), you may have noticed that the trim is covered (“capped”) in aluminum.

The contour of the aluminum as it fits around the trim is not magically made this way.

In order to get to the point where it fits around the areas of trim (window & door trim, fascia, etc.) in the most cosmetically pleasing way possible, it takes a skilled metalworker to “bend” the aluminum to get to this point.

When this process is being done, it is done so with the help of a tool called a “brake”.

The use of a brake in bending aluminum for trimming out a vinyl sided home is a common practice in the construction industry.

A brake is a specialized tool that allows precise bending and shaping of metal sheets, such as the aluminum used in this application, to create custom trim pieces for various applications.

In the context of a vinyl sided home, the brake is utilized to fabricate aluminum trim pieces that complement the aesthetics and functionality of the vinyl siding.

The process begins with selecting the appropriate gauge and size of aluminum sheet/coil stock.

The chosen aluminum is then measured and marked according to the required dimensions for the specific trim piece. Accurate measurements are crucial to ensure a proper fit and seamless integration with the vinyl siding.

Once the measurements are marked on the aluminum sheet, the next step is to set up the brake.

The brake consists of a flat bed with an adjustable clamping system and a hinged bending leaf. The bending leaf is positioned at a specific angle, depending on the desired bend radius and the shape of the trim piece. Typically, the bending angle ranges from 90 to 180 degrees, depending on the application.

The aluminum sheet is carefully aligned with the marked measurements on the bed of the brake, ensuring that the desired bend line matches the position of the bending leaf. The clamping system is then engaged to secure the sheet in place, preventing any unwanted movement during the bending process.

With the aluminum sheet securely clamped, the operator exerts pressure on the bending leaf, using a lever or foot pedal, to gradually bend the metal along the predetermined bend line. The brake’s design enables precise control over the bending process, allowing the operator to achieve accurate angles and smooth curves in the aluminum trim pieces.

After the initial bend is made, the aluminum sheet may need to be repositioned to complete the desired shape. This involves releasing the clamping system, adjusting the position of the sheet, and re-engaging the clamps before continuing the bending process. This iterative approach is often required for complex trim pieces that involve multiple bends or intricate shapes.

Once the aluminum has been fully bent and shaped, it is carefully removed from the brake, and any sharp edges or burrs resulting from the bending process are smoothed out using appropriate tools. The finished trim piece is then ready for installation.

A brake is an indispensable tool used to bend and shape aluminum for trimming out a vinyl sided home. The precise bending capabilities of the brake enable the fabrication of custom trim pieces which enhance the overall beauty and protective characteristics of the vinyl siding, ensuring a professional and polished look for the home’s exterior.

As terrific and helpful a tool as a brake is, any tool is often only as useful as the individual using it.

When combined with the skills of a well-seasoned metalworker, the results of the work stemming from what is done on a brake can truly be remarkable!

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