Mind Over Matter, Bend the Steel.doug link bending nail

What is metal Bending   Wrapping the Steel    Gripping the Steel






What is Metal Bending

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 "U."


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 already finished.

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.

Wrapping the Steel

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 following:
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.

Gripping the Steel

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 individual techniques.
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 fulcrum.