Bending the Brass
Let's try this thing out...
Mounting a brass blank in the brake, I place the whole affair into a machinist's vise. The vise will allow me to make the initial bend, and strengthen the brake so the steel flat I'm bending the brass over doesn't bend itself. I had to make sure the brass was centered so the edges would meet when the blank is bent - and remember to allow for the slight radius of the center.
You'll notice in these photos that I hadn't mounted the handles yet, and was just levering them against the screws that stuck out the back... A few broken screws later, I mounted the handles permanently. Wait - didn't I say to use three... Oh, yeah. Covered that already. USE THREE SCREWS!!! You know, if I say it enough times...
This first bend will only get the brass to about 90 degrees:
I then take the whole affair out and remount it, turning it 90 degrees in the vise so I can finish the bend. Because I've got the initial 90 degree bend in the brass, the flat steel bar I'm bending it over is now in a position where it is strong enough to withstand the bend without bending itself, whereas before I was depending on the vise to keep it from bending.
The final bend gets the brass to a full 180 degrees.
Tapping the freshly bent back out of the brake, here is what I end up with:
I hadn't gotten all of the edges quite even, but, not to worry - it can be fixed. The ones that were really bad I could run through that make shift table saw I cut the brass with initially. A bit tough going, being I now had to cut through two thicknesses of brass, but thankfully it was only one that came out poorly enough to require it. On about half of the remaining, I used a disk sander to even up the edges:
Of the ones that remained after that - only a little straightening up was required, which was done easily enough with a large file. I also took this time to clean up all of the backs, filing away the sharp edges and burrs left behind from cutting it (including the inside of the bend). In reality - if the edges are just a little off from each other, it isn't too big of a deal, it just looks a little nicer, and makes mounting the blade into the handle a bit easier.
The backs are now ready for the blades to be mounted into them. About time, huh?