Rebar is a group of mass-produced steel rods used to reinforce concrete in construction work. It must always be sized appropriately and sometimes bent before you can install it. You can bend rebar in various ways using specialized tools or even using your hands.
Utilizing specialized tools ensures a more precise job than bending the rebar by hand. They are great for large projects using thicker materials. Manually bending rebar is excellent for thinner materials, is more cost-effective, and great for smaller projects.
4 Best Ways to Bend Rebar
Below are four common ways in which you can bend rebar.
#1: Using a Vice, Pipe, and Blowtorch
This method uses a vice attached to a workbench to hold the rebar securely in place. It is then blowtorched to make it more pliable to help with bending. After this, a longer pipe is slipped over it to increase leverage and help further bend the rebar.
Using a vice, pipe, and blowtorch is cost-effective and great if you’re on a strict construction budget. It’s also useful when using thinner rebar. However, since you have to move more slowly than other methods to ensure precision, it is inefficient.
There is also a debate on whether you should heat rebar in the first place. So, always check if the rebar you’re using is “non-weldable.” If it is, then it’s not safe to use the blowtorch, and another method listed might be better for you.
#2: Using a Manual Rebar Bender
The rebar is placed around a bending die while you press down on the lever until the desired bend is obtained. There is no power required for manual benders, and they are easy to operate. Their long levers also make them very convenient due to the added leverage. They’re also equipped with a portable carrying case for easy storage.
The downside of using a manual rebar bender is that you can only bend one bar at a time. If you have a large project, this may not be the best option for you.
One important thing to note is that you want to make sure you keep the manual rebar bender out of mud, dirt, water, and dust. Overexposure to these elements will cause damage to the internal mechanisms of the bender.
Lastly, rather than buying one, you can also make one yourself.
#3: Using a Power Rebar Bender
Power rebar benders are excellent for large, continuous projects with a hefty construction budget.
There is a multitude of models available, each with different sizing requirements to fit your needs. They are constructed with removable bending guides to ensure precision every time. This makes them the quickest and most precise tool to bend rebar out of all the tools mentioned.
Power rebar benders tend to be a bit pricey. But due to their ability to dramatically enhance productivity, you can ensure that it is definitely worth the investment. Especially so if you have to go through the process regularly.
#4: Using a Rebar Bending Table
Portable tables include a foot pedal control so you can work hands-free. It also has an angle selector to select which bend you desire from 0-180 degrees accurately. There are standard features included, such as an emergency stop switch and bending rollers.
Portable tables include two lifting handles, which make them easily portable. Their emergency stop switch enhances overall safety for the user.
These also tend to be on the more expensive side. That said, if you need to do a lot of rebar bending work, then they are definitely worth getting.
How to Bend Rebar by Hand
With the best methods out of the way, let’s take a closer, step-by-step look at how to bend rebar by hand. Unless you work with the material regularly, chances are this is the method you will be using.
- Step 1: Lock the rebar securely in a vice and position it directly below the point you want to bend the rebar. Take time to ensure the placement of the rebar at this point. If you bend it once at it is slightly off, you shouldn’t re-bend it.
- Step 2: Protect your hands by putting on some work gloves. Leather gloves work best as they are incredibly protective.
- Step 3: To make the metal more pliable, heat the rebar’s bending point for 30-60 seconds with a blowtorch.
- Step 4: Grab a steel pipe with a diameter slightly larger than that of the rebar. It should be a few inches longer than the piece of the rebar sticking out from the vise. Cover the rebar with the steel pipe.
- Step 5: Pull the rebar towards you with constant pressure and begin bending it.
- Step 6: Grab a protractor. After you’ve bent the rebar only a few inches, use the protractor to check for accuracy.
- Step 7: Heat the rebar again and continue bending it until the desired angle is reached.
- Step 8: If you need more than one bend, open the vice, and adjust the rebar’s position. Repeat every step until all angles are complete.
Tips, Tricks & Mistakes to Avoid When Bending Rebar
Always make sure you know the size and grade of the rebar. Some equipment may have specific sizing requirements that need to be strictly followed. Disregarding these requirements can result in serious injury or product malfunction.
Below are some further tips to follow:
- Always make sure the bend of your rebar meets the minimal internal bend diameter.
- Always choose rebar that can be appropriately bent by hand when using manual methods. The recommended size is 1/4-inch. Anything larger than this is a safety hazard and can also cause your machine to malfunction.
- Always make sure your vice is correctly secured to your workbench.
- Always work slowly and carefully to prevent accidents.
- Always wear long sleeves and pants while working with rebar to protect your skin against nicks and cuts from metal particles.
- Always recoat rebar with galvanized or epoxy coating after bending it since it tends to chip during the process.
- Never re-bend your rebar because it will weaken it, ruining its structural integrity.
- Never use a tool, like a sledgehammer, and hit your rebar to make it bend into your desired angle. You will have little control over the final shape. You will also weaken the rebar.
You can bend rebar in various ways. If you have a large project and need to bend rebar continuously, you’ll want to use a professional method. This will ensure accuracy and precision. It will cost you more than the manual method, but it’ll ensure a very efficient job.
Bending rebar manually, by hand, is cost-effective and is great for thinner materials. It is simple and any tools used are easy to adjust.
Whichever method you choose to use, make sure you ensure your safety by following strict sizing guidelines and wearing protective equipment.
Finally, if you’re looking to bend rebar into a circle, check this article too.