How to Bend Rebar into a Circle or Spiral

How to Bend Rebar into a Circle or Spiral

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Rebar is of course a very important thing, as it allows you to reinforce concrete structures to the point where they can handle weight and pressure much better than concrete alone. That said, it usually comes, as its name suggests, in a straight bar form.

What if, for one reason or another, though, you need to turn it into a circle or spiral?

What is the Best Way to Bend Rebar into a Circle or Spiral?

Now, there are two ways that you can go about bending rebar into a circle or spiral. The best way to do so is with a professional rebar bender. They are special tools used to bend rebar into various shapes including circles or spirals.

These can be manual or powered, or in other words, some require you to use your muscles, while others do all the heavy lifting for you. You can even make your own manual bender. That said, the easiest way to do this will, naturally, be with a powered rebar bender.

However, if you do not have access to a rebar bender, or you just don’t want to shell out a lot of money for one, you can use a garage or workshop vise, along with some gloves, a steel pipe, and some other small tools to get the job done.

Let’s take a look at both methods for bending rebar into a circle below.

Rebar Bender Tool

How to Bend Rebar into a Circle

Let’s go through a step by step tutorial on how to use each of the two methods of rebar bending.

Method #1: Using a Professional Rebar Bender

Let’s take a look at how to use a professional rebar bending tool to achieve that perfect circle.

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself

The first thing that you need to do is figure out what kind of rebar bending tool you want to use. First off, you can use a manual rebar bender. These tend to be fairly affordable, but they are slow, they can only do one piece at a time, they may only bend rebar up to 90 degrees at a time, and they can usually only handle smaller sizes of steel.

On the other hand, you could invest several thousand dollars into a powered rebar bender. These tend to use hydraulic power, so you don’t have to use any of your own muscles. For the same reason, they can generally handle any size or gauge of steel, are easy to use, and are very precise in terms of the angles they produce.

You need to keep in mind that here, with a manual bender, you need to guess the angles yourself, but with a powered bender, you can simply input the angle, and the powered bender will bend the rebar to that precise angle all on its own.

As such, as much as possible, we would recommend using a powered rebar bender. Using a manual bender, unless you are very experienced, you will find it virtually impossible to achieve a perfect circle.

Step 2: Bend the Rebar (with a Powered Bender)

Make sure that your rebar bender is secured firmly to the work surface before you start. It is also recommended that you wear protective work gloves.

All you have to do now is to set the desired length and angle on the powered rebar bender and feed the rebar into the machine. It will do the rest of the work for you.

To do a circle, you will want to do a lot of small bends in a row. Do not bend the same spot twice, though.

Method #2: Using a Vise

The other method at your disposal to bend rebar into a circle is by using a vise and a metal pole. This is what you will need to do if you do not have access to a real rebar bender.

Keep in mind though, this method is not easy, as you will have to do the measuring yourself, and you will have to guess the angles.

Step 1: Measuring

The first thing that you need to do here is to select your piece of rebar and then measure the length. You will then need to make the appropriate calculations to figure out how many bends you have to make and at which angles in order to achieve a perfect circle with the specific length of rebar that you have.

Step 2: Safety Gear

The next step here is to put on safety goggles and safety work gloves. While it may not seem like it, bending rebar can be a dangerous process.

Step 3: Insert Rebar Into the Vice

When you go to bend rebar with a vise, you need to insert the rebar into the vise so that the exact spot where you want to make the bend is right at the end of one side of the vise. Close the vise as tightly as you can in order to hold the rebar in place.

Step 4: Use a Steel Pipe to Bend

You do not want to bend the rebar by hand, as this will be nearly impossible. Instead, get a hollow steel pipe that can fit around the rebar. Slide the pipe over the rebar, right to where you want to make the bend, and then use those muscles to bend the rebar to the appropriate angle.

Keep in mind, the longer the pipe, the less force you will need to make the bend.

Step 5: Rinse and Repeat

Once you have made the first bend, you can then repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have created a circle, although, keep in mind, you may not be able to achieve a perfect circle with this method.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips, & Tricks

Let’s quickly go over some important tips that you absolutely need to follow in order to bend rebar safely and effectively.

  • Never heat rebar to bend it. Heating rebar will compromise its integrity. Some say that it is OK to heat it, while others say that it will compromise its integrity. We here opt to stay on the safe side of things, so don’t heat it up.
  • When using a powered rebar bender, always make sure to keep your hands clear of the bending mechanism, as it can cause serious injury.
  • Never use a hammer or blunt force to try and bend rebar. Rebar requires a certain angle and amount of force to bend. Hitting it with blunt force may just break or crack the rebar.
  • When bending rebar, always wear safety goggles and gloves.

Summary

The bottom line here is that rebar is best bent using a professional powered rebar bender. It’s really the only tool that will allow you to achieve a perfect circle.

If you use a manual rebar bender or just a vise, while you may be able to achieve something that resembles a circle, it probably won’t be perfectly circular. Still, in many if not most cases, the result will be more than sufficient for your needs.