Out of the box, we were generally pleased with the weight and quality of the castings, with the exception of the front left-hand foot which appeared to have not been cast correctly. It’s only cosmetic, and there is certainly enough metal there to be strong enough to bolt through and hold down, but it’s one mark off in the verdict. Everyone has a different approach for cleaning off machine tool packing grease; we prefer paraffin and a cloth, and we were pleased how well it cleaned. There were no oxidised patches on the machine, and it all looked OK. We quickly found some M10 steel nuts, bolts, and washers and mounted the Formit on a sturdy workbench.
The handle can be attached to either side of the machine – it sits in a grooved holder and a wing bolt simply traps the handle in any position you like. This is useful, as you might want the handle in the middle when using the rollers, but might want it at one end when using the shears or the bending aspects. Out of the box, our Formit would only rotate a small amount with the jaw of the shear hitting the surface of the bed. This is adjustable, of course, but it took a moment to work out how. We needed to undo the block on the right-hand side of the bed to access the bed securing bolt on that side. Having slackened off the bed securing bolts on either side, there are some adjustment bolts that sit horizontally, with large washers that connect to a groove in the machine bed. Tightening or loosening these pushes or pulls the bed backwards and forwards.
Having got the shear clearing the bed, we did some test cuts. This Formit is designed to be able to handle mild steel up to 0.8 mm thick, and aluminium up to 1.2 mm thick. Using the shear confirmed this – we easily cut through a 25 cm wide sheet of 1 mm thick aluminium with no problem. As a sneaky experiment, we tried some 1.2 mm mild steel sheet and, indeed, this was beyond the capacity it could handle. However, some 0.8 mm mild steel sheet cut successfully, albeit with considerable effort on the handle. Incidentally, we also discovered that the packing strapping off the pallet we received was 0.8 mm thick mild steel, so this can make some useful scrap test pieces. We were very impressed with how the shear could cut very thin sheet with very little marking or buckling of the stock. We could trim drink can aluminium extremely neatly, for example.
The bending section consists of an array of vee press tools above a long single vee slot. The pressing tools are inserted and clamped in position; you can rearrange them so that you can do bends with a gap between bends – extremely useful for making folded metal boxes. Again, the bending section worked extremely well across a range of materials and is quite straightforward to use. The instructions state that it’s limited to 90-degree bends, but we found that with too much force, it will produce more than 90 degrees. It’s definitely worth practising with some scrap to get the feel of how to repeatedly make accurate 90-degree folds.
The rollers are hidden under the yellow cover which pivots out of the way neatly. Obviously, when using the shear or the bending brake, the rollers will also move and, as such, it’s a good idea to keep them covered to reduce the risk of accidental entanglement. The instructions supplied give a good overview of how to use the rollers, and how to increase the tightness of the curve produced. With this type of roller system, you always end up with a small, flat section at the start of the roll, so it’s worth again practising with some scraps to dial in your approach before making a critical-sized component with them.
An excellent tool for making small metal parts, with all three functions working well.