Reinforcing Steel Tools

Written by shane grey
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Reinforcing Steel Tools
Builders often use manual hand tools to work with rebar rods. ( Images)

Commonly known as "rebar," reinforcing steel forms a supportive skeleton within concrete slabs, walls and other forms. Although most homeowners recognise reinforcing steel in rod form, reinforcing steel mesh is sufficient for several concrete projects, such as thin slabs and garden paths. Whether you're using rebar rods or metal mesh, you must gather tools that cut and bend the steel and a set of safety gear to protect from cuts and abrasion.

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Rebar Bender

Rebar benders are available as manual hand tools and portable power tools. Although most workers can bend the smallest rebar rods by hand, builders use bending tools to work with large diameter rebar. The manual rebar bender consists of a long, straight handle and roughly diamond-shaped or triangular head. Several metal pegs protrude from the tool's head. Builders weave rebar through the pegs and pull the tool's handle to bend rods. Power benders typically function like a pipe fitter's roll bender; the tool consists of a motor-driven wheel that pushes the rod against a set of clamps.

Rebar Cutter

Like benders, rebar cutters are available as both manual hand tools and power tools. Manual rebar cutters resemble bolt cutters and many builders simply substitute heavy-duty bolt cutters for rebar cutting tools. Like bolt cutters, power rebar cutters shear through metal rods with a set of sharpened cutting blades. Typically portable and powered by electricity, power rebar cutters slice through rebar rods with the pull of a trigger.


Snips are the general-purpose scissors of the metalworking trades. Rebar workers use snips to cut through most reinforcing steel mesh. Like scissors, snips consist of a set of hinged handles and sharp-edged cutting heads. Unlike scissors, most snips have an mechanical linkage installed at their fulcrum. The mechanical linkage compounds the cutting force exerted by a worker and reduces the amount of effort required to slice through thick wires.

Safety Equipment

Cuts and scrapes are the most common injuries related to rebar work. Rebar cutting tools leave a sharp, brittle edge at the ends of the rebar rod. To protect from cuts, most workers wear thick, leather gloves. Additionally, long sleeved shirts and denim or heavy work trousers protect the skin from the scrapes and abrasion caused by rubbing against rebar. Impalement is a serious risk when working around rebar that protrudes from set concrete. To prevent serious injury or death, builders always cover the exposed ends of installed rebar with protective, plastic caps.

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