How to bend steel at home with heat

Written by danny donahue
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How to bend steel at home with heat
Heating metal with a torch will soften and make it malleable. (torch image by Guy Verville from Fotolia.com)

Steel supports the buildings and bridges that surround you. A combination of carbon and iron, steel is a lightweight, strong, and easily worked metal. Bending steel in an industrial setting is a long, precise process. Bending smaller steel at home is relatively simple and straight forward affair. Applying heat to steel will soften the metal and allow it to be shaped. In order to bend steel at home you need only a few tools and a bit of know how.

Skill level:
Challenging

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Things you need

  • Shovel
  • 2 boards (4 inches by 4 inches by 8 feet)
  • Gravel
  • Carpenter's level (4 feet long)
  • 4 bags concrete mix
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Portable torch
  • 5/8 inch rebar (4 feet long)
  • Safety glasses
  • Face shield
  • Heavy, leather welding gloves

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Pick a spot in your yard that is at least 10 feet from a structure or tree. Dig a hole with your shovel 3 feet wide and 4 feet deep. Discard the turf and dirt from the hole into your compost pile. Place your posts into the hole and shovel in 6 inches of gravel. Manoeuvre the boards so that they are standing straight up in the centre of the hole with 6 inches of space between them. Hold your level against each post to get them plumb.

  2. 2

    Rip open the bags of concrete and dump them into the hole. Add the recommended amount of water and stir with your shovel. Allow the concrete to harden for 24 hours and fill the remaining hole with sand.

  3. 3

    Light your torch. Hold the end of the rebar and place the opposite end of the steel between the posts. Pull on the bar to apply pressure to the posts and heat the centre of the rebar with your torch. Continue heating the metal until it glows red and pull on the rebar to bend.

  4. 4

    Drop the rebar onto the sand beneath the posts when you are done and allow it to cool slowly and completely. Repeat as necessary to get the proper bend while allowing the steel to cool completely between each application of heat. Turn off your torch to save fuel when the torch is not actively in use.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not use treated posts for this procedure. Applying heat to a treated board will release harmful chemicals into the air.
  • Working with a torch requires safety glasses, a face shield, and heavy, leather welding gloves.

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