How to Bend Rebar By Hand & Machine Tool [5 Usual Ways]


Imagine that you are managing a construction site. Your staff has all the rebars in their places and concreting is about to begin. Then you hear that you are short on rebar stirrups, rebar stakes or 90-degree hooks. All you have available on-site are straight rebars.

This situation is very common in concrete construction projects. This does not mean that you cease all work and operations. You can always bend rebars on-site using various methods.

What about rebar, it is one of the most useful construction materials used at a construction site. They are used to strengthen concrete in tensile strength. They also provide support.

Every type of construction like bridges, houses, buildings and retaining walls require rebars. The strength and ductility of the steel allow you to use the rebar in a lot of ways.

You can use it in other ways than in concrete reinforcements. For example, you can use it as:

  • rebar stakes for uneven ground or put up tents.
  • make heavy-duty rebar stake fences.
  • bend it to form stirrups to hold the rebars together in concrete.
  • use it to form chairs for reinforcement bars in concrete.
  • create tables of rebars for cutting rebars.

Manually bending rebar or bending it by hand is the most basic method of bending rebar. It is also the safest and easiest method.

The first step is to encase the steel bar inside two pieces of metal piping.

Next, thread the steel bar through both pipe pieces and let them intersect at the point where you want to bend.

On one end of the metal piping, weigh the piping down and show the portion of the rebar that you want to bend. Use leverage to raise the longer piece of the pipe from the floor.

To bend the solid rebar, you will need an appropriate amount of manpower/force. Although the leverage you will get by using a long piece of pipe will help in getting the process move along.

Now that you have allowed the bar to bend, you will need to measure the angle. Having a carpenter’s square will help you in measuring the angle of bending.

Angle control is one of the most important steps of the process. Different uses of rebar require different angles. If a third person can hold the carpenter’s square while bending then you can easily obtain the right angle.

This method of rebar bending has its limits.

  • You cannot bend bars of very large diameter.
  • You cannot bend rebars in a high capacity either.
  • This method damages the rebars at the point of bending as well.

Bend Rebar with Hickey Bar

bending rebar by hickey bar

This method is very similar to bending bars using hands. A hickey bar is a metal bar with 3 fingers or studs. It is also called a 3 pin bar bender.

These studs are there to hold the rebar in position. The bar is around 34 inches long and weighs around 4 pounds. It uses the principle of increasing the torque to bend the reinforcement bar. People prefer it because of its small size and portability.

The handle of the hickey bar is designed as such to give considerable pressure to bend the rebar. Its use is such that one bar is not enough to bend the bar, you always need two of these.

If one of the studs breaks, you can always fix it using a torch and a grinder. You can always shorten the length of the bar using a hacksaw.

The process starts with placing the rebar straight on the ground.

Hold it using one of the hickey bars. Hold it in such a way that the rebar passes through two of the studs. Remember to use two hickey bars to bend the rebar. Now use the second hickey bar and again hold the bar using it.

The distance between the two holdings is where the bar will bend. So, the shorter the distance, the more accurate will be the point of the bend. Now, apply force to the second hickey bar. This will create torque and will make bending the bar very easy.

Angle control is very important. It would be helpful if a second person could use a measuring square to check the angle of bend during the process.

While it has its advantages, it also has some limitations.

  • You cannot use it for Grade 60 and above.
  • The maximum diameter of the bar also depends upon the distance between the studs.
  • Usually, it cannot bend bars of more than 5/8 inches.

Bend Rebar with Hand Bend&Cut Tool

portable rebar bender and cutter

This method also comes in the category of manual bending of rebars. It is very simple and easy to use. It is an analog device and does not use any electricity.

It uses the same principles as the hickey bar for rebar bending. It has a long lever and a CAM mechanism to generate maximum torque. The device weighs around 12 to 15kg. They are portable and economic. The price of this device ranges from $200 to $500 depending upon the variations.

The first step is to select the correct setting for the rebar you are bending. Simply pull the CAM towards you and rotate to the preferred setting. The numbers on the dials mean the diameter of the bar you want to bend in millimeters.

Once you have adjusted the settings, we move on to the next step. Put the rebar in place and apply force on the lever until the bar is bent.

Most tools only bend the bar up to 90-degree. If you want to make a stirrup then you have to repeat the steps four times for each corner.

If the force is not enough to bend the bar then do no increase the lever size or apply more force. It will only damage the machine. This only means that the rebar size is too much for the machine.

There are a lot of variations of this device. Every variation has its limits and drawbacks. Most of its variations can only cut bars up to 5/8 inches. Some of its variations only bend bars up to 90-degree.

It is a slow machine and can only bend one bar at a time. Most of the variations cannot bend bars of grade 60 and above.

You should always keep this device away from dirt, mud, water and dust. If you expose the machine to these, it will damage its internal mechanism.

Bend Rebar with a Portable Rebar Bender

portable rebar bender

Onto the semi-automatic and automatic machines now. The portable rebar bending machine is commonly used at construction sites. It is also called a power bender.

Before buying, you have to keep in mind some factors. These are bender capabilities, power requirements, cost, and time taken by the machine.

This type of machine bends rebars easily and without damaging its strength. They are easy to operate and transport.

It works on both electricity and hydraulic power. Different variations can bend different sizes and grades of rebar. This device even allows you to bend rebars coming out of walls and columns. A lot of its variations come in a mixer of rebar cutter and bender. This makes a lot of tasks very easy.

The process does not have a lot of steps. You place the rebar in the grip and turn the machine on. The hydraulic press will bend the bar in 4 seconds. The machine can bend up to 180-degree. It can bend up to bars of 1-inch size. These may be a little expensive but are essential where you need accuracy and speed.

Using them in rain can risk the motor to burn up or malfunction. Exposure to dirt or mud can also damage the machine’s life-cycle. Do not try to use rebars the exceed the machine’s capacity. Failure to provide maintenance will damage the machine as well.

Bend Rebar With Rebar Bending Machines

rebar bending machine

The rebar bending machine is an advanced machine used by professional companies.

It is a large-sized machine. The machine is multi-purpose and you can use it for rebars of all shapes, sizes and types. It has a big working platform. You can even change the pillars or studs used to bend bars. Different sizes and types of bars require different pillars.

The machine also has very simple indicator lights. It has a red reverse indicator light and a green forward indicator light. It works on pulleys and gears that allow it to bend strong bars. And it has different index pins to bend rebars at different angles.

It has a lot of safety features. An emergency stop button in case something dangerous happens. The machine comes with a footswitch that lets you control the process as you want.

How does this machine work? First, set up all the pillars according to the rebars you want to bend. Then set up the indexing pieces according to the angle you desire. Next, place the bar between the solid bending disc and the square stick.

Press the footswitch and the bar will bend in less than 3 seconds. You can create an entire stirrup without taking the rebar out once.

The best part of the machine is that it can bend multiple rebars at once. This feature is rarely available in other machines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can You Heat Rebar

Some people might think that heating rebar will ease the process of bending. The main component of rebar may be steel but it also consists of zinc, lead and tin. Heating the rebar will decrease its ductility and make it more brittle. It will also decrease the strength of the rebar. Rebar that has been exposed to high heat is prone to breaking at any time.

Q2. Is It Hard to Bend Rebar

Bending rebar is all about technique. Of course, if you are trying to bend it using your hands alone then it will be hard. But even without a machine, if you apply the right amount of torque then the bar will easily bend. The more the size of the rebar increases, the harder it is to bend it.