I'm looking to build some 24" by 10" oak shelves. They will be mounted to the wall using custom metal brackets. I was originally thinking of using a vise and a hammer, but want them to look good and am doing a few so want it to go easy. Could I use something like this to put a 90 degree bent in them? or am I missing something? Material is 1/8" by 2".



  • Welcome to Woodworking SE. It would be useful to have a little more information. What type of metal are you thinking of using? Brass? Steel? Stainless? Also what Gauge (thickness) is it?
    – ench
    Jan 8, 2016 at 0:14
  • 2
    I'm not sure if this is really a wood working question. You are asking purely about forming metal here.
    – Matt
    Jan 8, 2016 at 3:12

2 Answers 2


Could I use something like this to put a 90 degree bent in them?

Yes you definitely could, but at nearly $300 I'd say it's a bit steep just for a few brackets.

Go with your first thought. It's very doable to bend steel by clamping it firmly in a strong enough vice and hammering it to produce a bend, which you then continue with further hammering. You should ideally use a metalworking vice, but people have used their woodworking vices for this sort of thing. In a woodworking vice you'll very likely damage the jaws, some people are precious about that sort of thing and some aren't. If you'd prefer not to damage the existing jaws, replace them with temporary plywood ones or use temporary plywood or hard hardwood slips.

Some common tips I've read for producing bends in this way:

  • Use a larger hammer rather than a smaller one. So if you have access to a 24oz ball-peen hammer use that instead of a 16oz claw hammer, but the claw hammer will do if it's all you have.
  • Start hammering close to the bend, not at the end (this is one reason it's very easy to do some damage to the jaws of a metalworking vice as you're hammering right at the bend point).
  • After the bend is established many people will just resort to using arm strength or their bodyweight to pull the metal down into its final bent shape. You'll probably want to wear gloves if doing this.
  • If using a metalworking vice, you may want to protect the bracket metal from being marked by its steel jaws with fibre or aluminium inserts.

Google "bending flat bar stock in a vice" if you'd like to see more.


Could I use something like this to put a 90 degree bent in them?

As Graphus said, yes you can, but a good vice can work just as nice.

I've used a vice on 1/8" x 1/2" stock to make bands for trunks. That is surprisingly easy to bend where you want. 2" wide will take a little more work, but should be plenty doable. I also agree that a larger hammer works better.

Now, a word of caution on the brackets. A plain 'L' bracket without a strut for support will likely cause you a lot of pain. The first problem is the shelf will likely be bouncy. The next is if you are putting a lot of weight on the shelf it will slowly bend the 'L' down until it drops stuff off onto the floor. It might take a little while, maybe even years, but it will happen, that's gravity for you.

However, a simple fix is to make a brace from top to side. You could do extra metal work to bend a triangle, or take a piece of oak, and cut it to fit, then just screw the wood to the bracket, you don't even need to go from end to end, just a couple inches from the corner on each side should do.

Below are brackets commonly used for shelving brackets, they have 'triangles' for strength.

enter image description hereenter image description here

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.