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How to Bend Metal Rods Using Heat

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Yeah, we use our shops (primarily) for woodworking, but most of us have other things going on in our shops too. In my case, I recently had to bend some metal rod for a shaving horse project. Do you want to know how to bend metal? We’ve got you covered. Let’s turn up the heat on this topic.

The Setup

Don’t put that chunk of soon-to-be-hot metal in a vise with wooden jaws. Your best bet is a metal vise. Even though we’re going to be heating an area well away from the vise, the entire rod is going to get pretty warm.

Your vise can act as a HUGE heat sink, so keep the spot you’ll be torching as far from the vise as is practical. If you don’t the heat you’re applying to the rod you’re trying to bend will migrate to the vise, and you’ll waste a lot of gas heating stuff you don’t need to heat.

Flamin’

When you want to bend metal, you’ve got to get it hot. Red hot. Like a chili pepper. The best way to do this is with a torch, available at home centers or online. (I love the self-igniting kind) You can use a propane tank or MAP gas to fuel the torch. MAP will get you to the finish line faster than propane, but they’ll both get the job done.

Expanding your Repertoire

Now that you know how to bend metal, you can look for cool ways to incorporate this skill into your upcoming woodworking project.

Projects for You

You like to stay busy in the shop, and we like to keep you busy with woodworking project ideas and helpful shop tips. Have a look, you’ll like what you see.

Discussion
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10 Responses to “How to Bend Metal Rods Using Heat”
  1. DAVID

    Hi George. Great tips on bending a metal rod. A couple suggestions is to use 2 hand held torches to preheat the metal & it will shorten the preheat time to less than 5 minutes, likely a couple of minutes for a rod that diameter. Also heat the inside of the bend to creat a slight fold of red hot metal as the bend is formed & do not put as much heat on the back side so it remains cooler & does not glow red. This allows the back side to hold its shape & form a wrinkle of red hot metal on the inside. Larger rod or pipe can be bent in 2 or 3 wrinkle bends to avoid over stretching the back side & maintain structural strength on the curve.

    Reply
  2. David Hart

    I have another for holding a metal vice to my work bench I have the ply wood as you do but I also have a piece of 2×2 inch screwed to the bottom. I can clamp it in my wood vice and it means it can’t swivel if side ways pressure is required.

    Reply
  3. Heywood

    Instead of slip joint pliers, try slipping a lengh of conduit or other pipe over the end of the rod. You can get closer to the bend, it doesn’t leave tool marks and gives you great leverage.

    Reply
  4. Michael

    Why does my screen stay black?

    I can watch the ad, but when the movie starts, all I get is music and George’s voice, but no picture.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Michael. I am sorry to hear you are having trouble viewing the video. I have emailed you some troubleshooting tips that you can try. If you are still having trouble viewing the video please give our customer service team a call at 1-855-253-0822.
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      Jean-Woodworkers Guild of America Video Membership

      Reply
  5. night56owl

    This will not play on my new iPhone. It goes to a Panera ad that also doesn’t play.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello. I am sorry you are having trouble viewing the video on your iPhone. Please try using a different browser. If you are still having trouble please give our customer service team a call at 1-855-253-0822.
      Thanks
      Jean-Woodworkers Guild of America Video Membership

      Reply
  6. Jerame Brown

    Where does one go about obtaining one of those specialty “grippy” tools? I might never need one, but obviously NEED one! That looks like something a regular, run-of-the-mill pair of cheap pliers could never accomplish! Thanks George for introducing us to yet another fantastic tool “only for bending welding rods”!!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Jerame. There is no specialized tool needed for this. Pliers would work.
      Thanks
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America

      Reply
  7. Gary

    I agree with David about heating both sides but rather than getting two torches, simply rotate the torch so that it’s heating from one side for about 10 seconds then rotate 180° to the other side for about 10 seconds, then repeat.

    As far as the “wrinkle” issue, I am not following him but if the metal is properly heated there should not be any wrinkles.

    BTW, the cones that you see (inner and outer) are actually hollow. If you place a metal window screen over the flame you can see the inner and outer rings of each cone. That’s why placing the flame too close to the object is not going to heat it because there’s no “there there” when it comes to the flame. Also, in that regard, it’s better to be a tad from the point instead of a tad within the point.

    Reply

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