Old Stone House

Building A Brake

October 8, 2007

Filed under: Ugly Addition @ 10:25 am

brakesmall.jpgAccording to my father, sun rooms are notorious for leaking, and having only removed siding as the base of the windows I can already see that he’s probably right. There was a strange amount of silicone pumped into every nook and cranny around the edges of the siding – huge inch-wide gaps glued together with the stuff. The trouble is that the sunroom doesn’t have any overhangs around the large windows, so each of the exposed seams has to be water-tight to avoid problems. (I’m guessing by the gobs of silicone that I pulled out of the wall that there have been issues in the past…)

Adding flashing around the base/sides of the windows was going to solve a lot of the water issues, however the flashing needed to be custom made – there isn’t a lot of demand for 45 degree 2” J molding… I’ve used a brake a number of times in the past – particularly in grade 8 shop class – and I had the pleasure of watching a professional re-clad the neighbor’s house, so I was pretty sure I was capable of making the flashing with the right tools. The issue was that I would likely need to rent a brake on 6-10 different occasions as we’re going spend the next 5 weeks making these renovations on a part-time basis, and we would need to make the flashing as needed.

Hence, I built a brake.

The brake was built using laminated 2×4’s and 2×6’s. I squared up the edges of the boards on the table saw and joined them together with industrial hinges that I recessed into the wood using a router. This gave me a fairly hefty table that swung smoothly. I added a few scraps of copper pipe for handles, and smoothed the surface with some sandpaper.

I next built the brake edge using a 2×4 – mitering the edge on a 45 degree angle with the table saw. I aligned this piece to the hinged edge of the base, and secured the ends using large 5/8” bolts.

My first attempt with the brake was disappointing as the aluminum flashing only curved out of shape. Despite the fact that I had tightened the nuts at the ends, it needed more pressure across the middle. I added some clamps along the edge and made a second attempt that turned out decent.

In the next 15 minutes I was able to manufacture the 22’ of flashing I needed for the base of the windows, and I’m generally happy with it. The flashing is nowhere near as crisp as what a professional brake could produce – the surface has small waves in it and the corners are a little smooth. However these are details that will only bother me as every other person overlooks the flashing altogether.

The total cost of the brake was $22 – and a few hours of time to build. I would much rather rented a proper brake, but as that would become very costly with our timeline, I’m happy with this makeshift solution.


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