Sheet Metal Brakes and How to Make Your Own Guttering
You probably know all about rain gutters and how important they are to the health of your house. Guttering must be kept clean and intact to be able to drain water away, or serious, structural damage could be the result. Now, guttering can be bought ready to install, but you can also make it yourself – with the right tools and a bit of motivation.
Who should make their own guttering?
Well, anyone who wants to! Perhaps you simply like to things yourself, and have the time and the inclination.
Perhaps your home requires a special kind of guttering, difficult to find on the shelves anywhere.
Perhaps you like to fix old houses of your own, or of your friends – maybe even for a living someday?
You will be glad to hear there is not much to it:
The necessary equipment
Guttering is made of sheet metal, so you need sheet metal working equipment.
First of all, you need a sheet metal brake to bend the metal into a gutter-shape.
You also need metal shears to cut the sheet metal to size- these are sometimes integrated with the sheet metal brake.
To make half-round or quarter-round gutters, you will also need roll-forming equipment, but the sheet metal brake is just fine for making square- or box-shaped gutters along with v-shaped gutters, the like of which you might see where two perpendicular roof-surfaces meet.
Guttering materials – pros and cons
Common materials for gutters are metal like copper, steel, aluminum and zinc.
Steel would have to be painted, electroplated with zinc or perhaps coated with vitreous enamel.
Otherwise it would rust rapidly. The other materials mentioned do not tarnish as fast as raw steel, provided certain combinations are not made; like copper gutter held up with steel brackets.
Certain metals, when combined physically, will have a galvanic reaction, and one of them will tarnish faster.
For instance, small amounts of steel (such as rivets or screws) combined with the larger amounts of copper in a copper gutter, will oxidize the steel parts much faster than normally – especially in combination with water.
Obviously a poor choice for guttering and any other part you would demand durability from.
It is common to use the same material for gutters brackets and other fasteners, when installing guttering.
That is the safest way to avoid unwanted galvanic reactions – and it looks better.
If you want to use steel for your gutters, you must protect it against rust. That means painting it, or having it powdercoated or electroplated. You could use stainless steel, but it might prove too expensive, and you could reduce its abilities to stay free of rust if you’re not sure how to work with it.
Overheating it with an electric cutter/grinder is an example of something you shouldn’t do to stainless steel.
Also, using a steel brush or other grind/sanding devices could embed small particles in the stainless steel, which could ruin it.
And never use muriatic acid anywhere near stainless steel either – again, it will be ruined.
The actual work
First of all you need to know more about the shape you are going to make. To reproduce the profile of existing guttering, take down an intact piece of gutter and draw an outline of it on a piece of paper. Then measure the lengths of material between the bends and use those measurements to correct your outline drawing, if necessary.
Now you have the exact dimensions of your guttering, and can get to work with your shears and your sheet metal brake.