Bending metal can be learned online or through
books but it is of course safer to train with someone who is already an expert
at it. The most usual object for the newcomer to attempt bending is the so
called six inch penny nail. In order to bend the nail wraps must be used
in other words the nail must be wrapped in a piece of material usually leather
to prevent the nail injuring the body (although this can still happen with wraps
especially if not properly wrapped and secured). However, the types of
objects that a metal bender can attempt to bend really only depend on what is
available in their environment or hardware store, ranging from different kinds
of nails and bolts, to metal bars and frying pans. Different objects
present different challenges as firstly the length of the objects with dictate
how much leverage can be applied and the thickness and type of metal or the way
the metal was treated will also effect the difficulty level. Generally
speaking most steel bars are either hot-rolled or cold-rolled; a cold rolled bar
is shinier than a hot rolled bar, but is also harder to bend. Stainless steel is
even harder to bend. The stronger the steel, the more the bend will approximate
a "V", while the weaker the steel, the more the bend will look like a
In the picture on the left above the 2 nails look about
the same but in fact the bottom one and unlike the top one which bend into a
"U" shape it will instead bend into a "V" shape. The next
picture shows the leather wraps which are used to protect the hands when
wrapping final picture shows a large box of bails ready to be bent with some
Above is 75 year old Michael Margolis bending a
six inch penny nail. Mr Margolis at 75 years old is one of few men that
can bend two penny nails together.
Choose a suitable wrapping material. Before attempting to bend the steel bar,
you need to wrap it in material to make it easier to grip and bend, as well as
to protect your hands as you bend it. Suitable wrapping materials include the
Leather. Leather is the toughest material you can use to wrap the steel with and
is the best material for adding leverage to your grip.
Cordura. Cordura, a synthetic canvas-like fabric, is used in professionally
created bending wraps. It's as puncture resistant and durable as leather, but
not as good in adding leverage to your grip. Cordura is initially stiff, but
becomes more supple over time as it absorbs the oils from your skin. Fold
or cut the wrapping material into strips. If you're using leather, cut strips
twelve inches (30 cm) long by four inches (10 cm) wide. If you're using either
Cordura or heavy cloth, fold the material into strips of these dimensions.
Choose an effective grip. You can grip the steel bar in one of four ways: double
overhand, double underhand, palms down, and reverse. Each method has its own
In the double overhand grip, you hold the bar close to your body, preferably
just under the chin, with your hands gripping the steel from above. This method
transfers the greatest force from your arm muscles into the bend and is the best
grip to use on thicker bars.
In the double underhand grip, you also hold the bar close to your body, although
at about the center of the breastbone. You will bend the bar upward, using your
pinkies as fulcrums, and your driving muscle strength comes from your triceps
and upper back.
In the palms down grip, you grip the bar with your hands the same as in the
double overhand grip, but you hold the bar away from your body, either at arm's
length or with your arms bent. Because you're holding the bar further from your
body, your thumbs serve as fulcrums more when bending the steel than in the
double overhand grip, requiring stronger thumb muscles.
In the reverse grip, you also hold the bar away from your body, but
perpendicular to your chest instead of parallel to it as in the palms down grip.
The hand further from your body grips the bar in an overhand grip, while the
closer hand grips the bar underhanded. The further hand provides more of the
bending force, while the thumb and forefinger of the near hand serve as a