Bars five to seven inches in length are typically bent. Bar diameters range from 3/16” to 3/8”. In most cases, some sort of padding is wrapped around the bar prior to performing the bend. This padding serves to protect the hands and may be used to gain additional leverage on the bar.
Unbraced short bending relies heavily upon strong hands and wrists. The wrists are used to transfer strength from the upper body into the hands for the bend. The hands serve to transfer the strength from the wrists into the bar and act as a fulcrum in the center of the bend. Regardless of style, crushing the bar as hard as possible while bending is critical to successfully kinking big steel.
Diameter of the wrapped bar ranges from half an inch to one and a half inches. The thicker the wrapping, the easier it will be to kink the bar. The thinner the wrapping, the easier it will be to crush the bar down. Characteristics of the wrapping material will impact the effort involved in a bend. The most common wraps are as follows:
When selecting stock from on online retailer, consider price, range of available stock options, and finish on the end of the bars. Some retailers will grind down the each end of their steel, reducing risk of a bending pad puncture. The best prices can be had by purchasing the stock in volume packages, such as the Ironmind Bag of Nails or the Fat Bastard Barbell Bender’s Bags.
When purchasing stock locally, the decision needs to be made to buy metal and cut it down, or to bend available short steel such as bolts or nails. Stock purchased from a hardware store will not be much cheaper than an online retailer. Metal suppliers will provide much better prices, but usually offer steel in twenty foot lengths, requiring the purchaser to cut it. 24” bolt cutters work quite well for this purpose. Sharp bar ends can be smoothed out with a bastard mill file.
An acceptable range of stock strengths can be acquired by purchasing existing hardware. Most commonly, the following hardware is used, listed in order of increasing difficulty:
Major hardware retailers will have timber ties and graded bolts. In order to find 60 penny nails, it may be necessary to locate a building supply store or tractor supply store. Nails are quite cheap, and can typically be found for under $2 a pound. Graded bolts are more expensive, especially from a local hardware store.
As with grippers, bending stock varies. Difficulty ranges are approximate and will differ even between nails or bolts from the same box. If one type of stock is just a little too hard, try stock from a different location. Be aware that hardware made from certain types of metal will break before it bends. When trying a new stock, take caution to be sure if it breaks, you will not be injured. High grade bolts and pole barn nails are the two types of stock that most often surprise people by breaking.
Force from the chest and upper back is applied through the thumb pads to bend the nail, using the index fingers as a fulcrum. Done effectively, force will also be generated by the wrists, in the form of radial deviation. The double overhand bend can be broken down as follows:
Initial Kink – The bar is grasped with an overhand grip, held as high under the chin is possible. The ends of the wrapped bar are braced in the thumb pads, with the first 2-3 fingers of the hand wrapped around the bar. Apply force down and out through the end of the bar, towards a spot two feet in front of the stomach. The thumb pads will push directly into the ends of the nail, relying upon durable pads to prevent puncture injury.
At the same time, the index fingers must push the opposite direction into the underside of the nail, driven by force from the wrists. Once the bar bends to more than 45 degrees, it’s time to move on to the sweep. For longer nails, the kink will be the hardest part of the bend.
Sweep – Transitioning from the initial kink into the sweep using double overhand requires little modification in form. Continue applying pressure through the thumb pads into the end of the nail while pushing index fingers up with the wrists. It may be possible to complete the kink and sweep in a single motion. The distinction between the two phases of the bend is important because most other bending styles will transition to double overhand for the sweep and crush down.
If multiple attempts are needed during the sweep, focus on doing them in rapid succession, applying as much force into the bar as possible. Explode into the steel. Waiting between attempts on the bar will allow the stock to cool, making the bend harder. Once the fingers meet and the bar is under 90 degrees, it is time to move into the crush down.
Crush Down – The final phase of the bend, the crush down involves bending the bar from 90 degrees down until the ends of the bar are less than two inches apart. This will be accomplished by pressing the ends of the bar together until the fingers can interlock. Once the fingers can interlock, strength from the clasped hands will be used to assist the upper body in finishing the bend. Should the wraps interfere, it may be necessary to partially unwrap the nail in order to complete the bend.
As with the sweep, it is important to transition into the crush down as quickly as possible, preventing the nail from having time to cool and harden. Should a piece of steel prove especially difficult to finish off, try grasping it in the dominant hand like a gripper, clasping the opposite hand over it, and squeezing as hard as possible.