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Bending Aluminum for Cloches

Using the cloches Monty Don uses as my model, I’d like to make my own version using angled aluminum sheet metal.  Has anyone found a good technique for making the bends? My first attempt will be using tin snips to make small cuts to release the tension as I pull it around a wooden template. If you’ve built something similar, I’d would appreciate your advice 


  • LynLyn Posts: 23,190
    Might be easier to use water pipe from a builders merchant.  You can push the ends well into the ground.
    My son’s just built a poly tunnel with that.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • BSeaBSea Posts: 4
    Yes, that would be easier but that is not the path I’ve chosen. Same reason why I drive a MG. Improving my metal working and carpentry skills will add much needed structural elements.  
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,872
    I doubt if anyone here would be able to help, although a photo of the stuff you intend using might. I can't visualise the material you want to use.
    Most people are looking for the simplest way of constructing anything, hence @Lyn 's reply.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,481
    Echoing Lyn and Fairygirl, I didn't see Monty in action but I use 5-litre plastic water containers with the bottoms removed - 2-litre ones if desperate - held in place by a vertical stick or metal rod.  Once no longer necessary, 10-12 of them can be strung on to string and hung in the shed/garage for next time.  I have three such strings in my garage.  Cost nil.
  • Without seeing a photo or sketch of such a cloche, it's difficult to say (Monty has used a multitude of types over the years.)  I've built square (2 side and a top) cloches from 15x15mm aluminium angle and used 4mm twin-wall polycarbonate.  No bending involved and 6mm aluminium greenhouse type nuts and bolts were used to hold them together, so they can easily be stored flat when not in use.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • BSeaBSea Posts: 4

    Here are a couple pictures, the top one has a vent at each end. I made a simple metal brake for the 90 deg bends from a softer gauge aluminum. If it cracks or stretches funny I’ll try galvanized steel. IKEA also has a galvanized steel greenhouse/garage shelving unit called Hyllis that is made of similar materials.

    I like the idea though of being able to store everything flat when not in use, thanks @BobTheGardener
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,838
    Right angle section is specifically designed to resist bending so would seem to be the worst possible choice for creating a curved structure. Those curved sections in your photos would have been stamped out on a large press which few people would have access to. It would be much easier to keep to straight lines but you might be able to use a single bend on each side to create a mini-greenhouse type structure.
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