How to Bend Steel With Your Hands

Bend Steel With Your Hands
Superman was described on radio and television as able to “bend steel in his bare hands.” Although the Man of Steel could bend girders like taffy, it isn’t necessary to have been born on Krypton to bend large nails and small metal bars using only the strength in your arms. It takes strength training, careful planning, a few pieces of equipment, and an understanding of proper technique. Here’s how to bend steel with your hands.

Method 1 of 4:Choosing the Steel

1. Choose the right steel alloy
Choose the right steel alloy. 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.”

2. Choose a comfortable length of steel bar
Choose a comfortable length of steel bar. Most strongmen who bend steel bars prefer to work with lengths of five to seven inches (12.5 to 17.5 cm). (A common strongman feat was bending a 60-penny nail, which is 6 inches [15 cm] long.) The shorter the bar, the harder it is to bend, as shorter lengths give less bending leverage than longer lengths; however, some prefer a six inch (15 cm) bar to a seven inch (17.5 cm) bar because of the way the stock was formed.
You can buy steel bars in the optimal length for hand-bending from some online retailers or buy longer bars either online or from your local hardware store and cut off a piece of the desired length. To cut the steel bar, use a pair of bolt cutters, preferably about 24 inches (60 cm) long. Wear safety goggles when cutting, as short pieces can travel at high speed when cut from the larger bar stock. Grind or file off the cut end to smooth it.

3. Choose a comfortable thickness
Choose a comfortable thickness. Thicker bars are harder to bend than thinner bars. Doubling the diameter quadruples the amount of force required to bend the bar; it takes four times the torque to bend a 3/8-inch (9.6 mm) bar as it does a 3/16-inch (4.8 mm) bar.

4. Choose a well rounded bar
Choose a well rounded bar. The more sides the bar has, the easier it is to bend it. A hexagonal bar is easier to bend than a square bar, while a round bar is the easiest of all to bend.

Method 2 of 4:Wrapping the Steel

1. Choose a suitable wrapping material
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.

Heavy cloth. A heavy cloth, such as a shop cloth or rag, is the cheapest suitable wrapping material, and has been traditionally used for nail bending feats. However, it is nowhere near as durable or puncture-proof as either leather or Cordura.

2. Fold or cut the wrapping material into strips
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.

3. Coat the strips with chalk
Coat the strips with chalk. The chalk will keep the wrap from slipping once it’s wrapped around the steel.

4. Wrap each end of the bar with a strip, leaving a gap between the strips
Wrap each end of the bar with a strip, leaving a gap between the strips. Wrap the strips around the bar as tightly as possible to keep them from slipping; you may wish to use a rubber band to keep the wrapping tight. Leaving a gap between the strips prevents one strip from bumping into the other as you bend the steel and preventing you from completing the bend.

Method 3 of 4:Gripping the Steel

1. Choose an effective grip
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.

Method 4 of 4:Bending the Steel

1. Grasp the bar firmly
Grasp the bar firmly. If you’re using either the double overhand or palms down grip, your thumbs should be pushing into the nail or bar through the wrapping, while your index, middle, and ring fingers are wrapped tightly around the bar. If you’re using the double underhand grip, your pinkies should grip the bar the tightest, while your index, middle, and ring fingers grip the bar slightly less tightly.

2. Apply force to the bar
Apply force to the bar. Push your fulcrum fingers into the steel as you start bending the ends of the bar toward each other. Your wrists will channel the driving force from your arm muscles, concentrated in your index fingers with the double overhand or palms down grip, the index finger of your far hand with the reverse grip, or your upper palms with the double underhand grip. Your goal is to bend the bar to at least a 45-degree angle.

3. Sweep the bar to a 90-degree bend
Sweep the bar to a 90-degree bend. Keep up the bending pressure from your fulcrum fingers and your driving muscles as you bend the steel further, until your fulcrum fingers start to touch.

If you’re bending from the double overhand position, you can go from making the initial bend to continuing the bend in a single motion without changing your hand grip. If you’re bending from the palms down or reverse position, you may have to change to the double overhand position to continue bending the steel.
Ideally, you want to make this part of the bend in a single, smooth motion. If you’re not strong enough to do that, you can make multiple attempts in rapid succession, using as much force as you can muster. Don’t rest too long between attempts, or the steel will cool, making it harder to bend.

4. Crush the ends of the bar together
Crush the ends of the bar together. Press the ends of the bar together until you can lace your fingers together; the ends should be about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Then, use your clasped hands and upper arms like a nutcracker to finish bending the steel.

You may have to remove some of the wrapping around the steel if it gets in the way. You may also have to grasp the bent steel in one hand and clasp that hand with your other hand, squeezing both the steel and your hand.
As with the sweep, crush the bar’s ends together should follow quickly after making the 90-degree bend so that the steel doesn’t have time to cool.