Reinforcing bars or rebar are typically made of different types of steel and are used in construction projects to strengthen concrete slabs. Most of the time the rebar are placed in the formwork and concrete is poured over them. When the slab hardens, its tensile strength will be much greater than if it was composed of just concrete.

Sometimes, you may have to bend rebar in order to accommodate a differently-shaped concrete structure. Typically, when you bend metal of any kind, you end up weakening it. However, if you adhere to the best practices listed in our guide, you’ll be able to bend rebar in such a way that it remains strong as ever.

Probably the most easiest and effective way to do this by investing in industrial rebar bender equipment. While these require a significant upfront investment, you can definitely save money in the long run when you get more rebar bent in such a short amount of time.

However, if you’d rather bend rebar manually, read on and let about the proper dos and don’ts:

Always Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

As with any DIY construction project, wearing PPE is a must. When bending rebar it’s particularly important to wear safety goggles and gloves at the very least. We also recommend putting on long sleeves, pants and boots.

Avoid Bending Thicker Rebar by Hand

As a general rule it’s best to stick to rebar that are only a quarter of an inch thick, if you’re set on bending by hand. Otherwise, it’s best to hire a professional or to invest in the proper equipment. Often larger structures may require thicker rebar. In that case, you have no choice but to try the latter methods.

Avoid Heating Beforehand

There’s a lot of disagreement between experts as to whether it’s okay to heat a piece of rebar before bending it. The bottom line is that if it’s not labelled as a ‘Weldable Rebar’ then it’s best to avoid heating it. If it is, then it’s safe for you to do so.

Make Sure the Vise is Well Anchored

In order to bend rebar, you need to place one side of it in a vise and then proceed to pull on the opposite end. Before attempting to do this, you must make sure that the vise properly secured on your work bench. Otherwise the additional pressure might cause it to fall and injure your feet.

Cover the End with a Steel Pipe

This should allow you to have an easier grip when you’re pulling down on the free end and will prevent the possibility of an injury occurring. When pulling, it’s best to apply a slow constant pressure. This will make sure that you don’t go past the desired bend angle and that you don’t weaken the rebar. Always avoid smacking the free end with a heavy tool like a hammer. This can easily result in over bending, leading to a damaged rebar.

And that’s pretty much all you have to keep in mind when bending rebar manually. Always pay attention to safety and stick to the proper techniques detailed above, and you should never have a problem with doing this on your own.