What’s the Best Van Mark Portable Hand Brake for Metal Roofing Projects?

Looking for the best Van Mark portable hand brake for standing seam metal roofing? In this article, we take a look at Van Mark’s Metal Master 20.

Hand brakes are exceptional tools to have on job sites. They allow metal roofing contractors to bend and cut metal to custom sizes and pieces, which can speed up a project and boost efficiency on job sites. The challenge can be choosing the correct hand brake for your metal roofing project and deciding whether it can work for what you need.

At Sheffield Metals International (SMI), we have a team of experts who understand the metal roofing industry inside and out. We’ve been in business for decades and have worked with hundreds of contractors to find the right tools and products to complete their roofing projects. Aside from offering quality metal coils and sheets to our customers, we’re also committed to educating our buyers on the different tools in this industry and how they can contribute to their unique situation.

In this article, we’ll discuss the features of Van Mark’s Metal Master 20, which is one of the best portable products on the market for bending 24-gauge metal.

What Is Van Mark?

Close up of a Van Mark hand brake labeled 1-800-Van Mark

Van Mark has been in business since 1964, with a central mission of producing quality portable bending brakes. The company has been an innovator in the industry since its inception, beginning with the manufacturing of the Trim-A-Brake and followed by other tools such as the Trim-A-Slitter.

As the company continued to thrive, so did the metal roofing industry, and Van Mark produced brakes that aided contractors in bending metal for a variety of gauges, including 24-gauge steel. Today, Van Mark products are highly regarded as some of the best in the industry, with high-quality materials and practical uses.

What’s the Best Van Mark Hand Brake for 24-Gauge Steel?

One of the most popular types of metal roofing materials is 24-gauge steel, as it offers premium durability and protection from the elements. Because of the thickness of 24-gauge, it can also be challenging for contractors to work with to bend and cut the lengths they need for a particular project. But with the right tools and the ability to use them effectively, contractors can move their metal roofing projects along efficiently.

Van Mark offers an industrial-grade collection of hand brakes for thicker metals such as 24-gauge steel. Van Mark produces hand brakes with 14” throat depths (the throat depth is from where the bend happens to the back of the casting) for smaller truck setups. They also offer upgraded 20” throat depths for those using larger pieces of metal.

The Metal Master 20 Van Mark Industrial Hand Brake

The Van Mark Metal Master 20 with a trim cutter attached

The Metal Master 20 is the number one selling brake at Van Mark for metal roofing contractors. This brake will bend 29, 26, and up to 24-gauge steel. The Metal Master 20 offers various features and benefits, including portability, convenience, and accessories like trim cutters and multi-gauges.


An impressive feature of the Metal Master 20 is its portability. The brake will come with a stand that you can easily remove and load into the bed of a truck. You simply remove the brake with two thumb screws and can also break down the stand to fit it into tighter spaces.

The stand on the Metal Master 20 includes a walkboard for counterbalance while bending metal and wheels that allow you to transport your hand brake from place to place.

View of the Van Mark Metal Master 20's walkboard and wheels

The axle is built in a J channel system, which you can lift from each end to move the brake around the job site or spin it 180 degrees. This can be done with one person. Once you get it to where you need, you move to the other end of the brake and drop the axle back into the J channel to secure it.

The ability to freely move this hand brake around a job site, and the advantage of being able to do it with one person, is a massive benefit that could save crucial time on job sites.


Most metal roofing contractors will likely get the bulk of their trim pieces preformed from their suppliers. However, problems arise on job sites, whether it’s missing pieces, wrong measurements, or damage to the metal. In these cases, it can be very beneficial to have a hand brake on the job site so that you can pull it off the truck, cut your metal, form it, and make it custom for your unique metal roofing job.

Otherwise, someone might have to return to the shop to get the pieces they need for the job, which can prolong a project and waste resources while others back at the job wait. With the hand brake, you can streamline a metal roofing project and save money while you do it.

This hand brake comes available in 6.5’, 10.5’, 12.5’, and 14.5’ versions, so you can fit it to your specific needs.

Multiple Accessories: TrimCutter and Multi Gauge

Close up of the Van Mark hand brake multi gauge

Many contractors who buy the Metal Master 20 will also buy the Trim Cutter. The TrimCutter can efficiently roll through 24-gauge steel for a clean cut. It’s a rotary wheel cutoff device that is designed to ride conveniently on the built-in track system on the face of the brake.

To use the TrimCutter, you can line the Multi Gauge up to your cut mark on the metal, lock the brake, line your TrimCutter up on the track system, and roll through the sheet. For thicker metal like 24-gauge, it may take a bit more pressure on the cutter, but you should end up with a clean cut. When you’re not using the TrimCutter, it can hang on one of the handles of the brake.

The Multi Gauges on the brake will allow you to see where the cut occurs and, once you’ve cut the metal, the radiuses for bending that piece of metal. If you need to bend a piece of metal to 45 degrees, for example, you can use the Multi Gauge on either side of the metal to bend to that exact degree.

How Much Does the Van Mark Metal Master 20 Cost?

The 10.5’ version of the Metal Master 20 will typically cost around $5,500. The price will vary based on the distributor – Van Mark sells through authorized distributors, so some of the cost will depend on where you’re located and the particular seller. 

Use our Interactive Trim Calculator to estimate the amount of 4'x10' flat sheets you need!

What Are Some Other Van Mark Products That Could be Helpful for Metal Roofing Contractors?

Alternative Hand Brakes

If you aren’t looking for something as large as the 20” throat depth hand brake, there is also a cam-operated brake that comes in a 14” throat depth. In most cases, contractors will purchase the smaller version because of fit issues – they want to be able to put their brake in a truck or trailer and need it in certain dimensions.

The smaller version will work great for anyone who wants an effective brake without the bulk, and they work the same as the larger version, bending and cutting the same metal.


The Van Mark Trim-A-Slitter

Van Mark also makes the Trim-A-Slitter, which has been developed to slit and perforate up to 24-gauge steel.

The Trim-A-Slitter enables contractors on a job site to cut a particular color or perforate soffit on their own rather than having to get one from the shop or their supplier.

The SCI 24 HD Trim-A-Slitter is a slitting perforating combo package – it’s a trim slitter with two sets of knives that make two simultaneous cuts and a perforating roller. It also has a heavy-duty motor and a stand to easily maneuver it on wheels. The package will include a hand crank if you’re ever at a job site with no power. Simply disconnect the motor and put the hand crank on to use it.

To operate the Trim-A-Slitter, you can use a T-wrench to loosen the gib screws and slide them together, along with the perforating roller, then lock the screws where you need them, and it will be ready to cut. The slitter will run forward and backward at approximately 60’ a minute.

You can bring the metal up against the knives, and once it touches, it will self-feed through the machine to give you your slit or perforation.

How to Decide if a Hand Brake is What You Need

Close up perspective view of the Van Mark Metal Master 20

Industrial hand brakes are a significant investment, so it’s important to research and determine whether buying one would be worth it. Here are a couple of factors to keep in mind.


One of the most common reasons contractors invest in an industrial hand brake is because of the money and time it will save them. Instead of heading back to the shop or waiting for a piece to come in, you can do the work on the job site with your portable hand brake. This is a massive advantage that may fit into your business or project.

Type of Work

Hand brakes are also suitable for contractors who aren’t ready to invest in a full CNC machine for their shop. A portable hand brake will allow you to see how you can incorporate something like that into your workflow.

Is an Industrial Van Mark Hand Brake Right For You?

You can learn more about Van Mark and their selection of hand brakes and accessories at their website: https://www.van-mark.com/index.shtml.

Are you still considering whether an industrial hand brake is right for you? Even with information like this article at your disposal, it can still be challenging to know whether a hand brake is right for your unique situation. To make it easier, consider speaking to an experienced metal roofing supplier who can guide you during the process.

At Sheffield Metals, we’ve worked with countless contractors to help them find the products they need to be successful. Feel free to reach out to our team today!

Contact Sheffield Metals today!