There are many benefits to bending steel.
First off, bending steel is extremely fun. Many athletes who take up bending literally become obsessed with it and bend multiple times a week.
Another benefit from bending steel is the physical result of bigger and stronger muscles. Straining against the steel requires a great deal of time under tension which results in increased strength and bigger muscles, especially in the upper and lower arms.
Next, bending increases your mental toughness. While the first couple of times you bend you may fail at a particular attempt, if you resolve to focus mentally and continue to hone your ability to do this, after a short time your mental toughness will enable you to blow past previous plateaus and climb the bending ladder.
Finally, there are certification systems out there that you can strive for and get recognition and your name ‘up in lights‘ for the efforts you put into bending. Unfortunately, jumping right to the steel that you get certified on can leave you highly disappointed and possibly even injured.
This article serves as a guide of how to get started with bending and how to gradually climb the ladder safely and steadily.
TYPES OF STEEL TO BEND
There are a lot of options out there for you to start bending. Getting started can be as easy as heading to the hardware store. This is what you can pick up when you go there to get some beginner level nails to bend
Coiled Nails: Many nails are not straight the whole way down their shaft, but rather have a coiled design to them.
This coil makes the shaft of the nail thinner and less strength is required to bend them, a great option for people starting out with bending.
Ungraded Bolts & Screws: There are many different types of ungraded bolts and screws at hardware stores. Lag screws are one example, pictured here.
Take a tape measure with you to the store and look for screws and bolts that are about 6 inches long 1/4 inch in diameter, more or less. These should be good selections for beginning benders.
One thing to take note with bending bolts and screws is that if they are threaded in the middle of the shaft, they will be easier to bend. Try to find un-threaded ones if you can for a more easily predictable bend, other wise you may want to go with a thicker diameter.
60D Nails: Hardware stores generally sell nails by the pound. Look for a grayish colored, multi-tier shelving unit where each tier spins around. This is where you will find the 60D nails.
As a little trivia, the D in 60D stands for denarius, a Roman coin similar to the penny, so 60D nails are also called 60 penny nails. This is a naming system that goes waaaay back in history.
60D nails are 6 inches long and the shaft is about 1/4 inch thick. You may find them with a coating on them or in their bright, or uncoated variation.
Graded Bolts: There are a whole host of graded bolts, also commonly referred to as cap screws. Their grade refers to their strength level.
The most common graded bolts I have found for bending are Grades 2, 5, and 8. The higher the grade, the tougher the bolt is to bend. The bolt heads shown above are for Grade 5 bolts. You can see that each bolt has 3 markings going around the head of the bolt. Grade 8 bolts have 6 markings going around the head.
Grade 5 bolts are usually silver in color, but they can also be found in green and black variations. Grade 8 bolts are usually a gold color.
Also, as the bolt grade increases, the more springy the bolt is, so it tries to fight you back during the bend. Get ready for a battle with these!
Rolled Steel: Rolled Steel can be picked up at many hardware stores. There are two main kinds of rolled steel ñ hot rolled and cold rolled.
Rolling is a metal forming process where steel is passed between a pair of rollers. Whether the steel is hot or cold rolled depends on if it rolled below its recrystalization temperature (cold rolling) or above its recrystalization temperature (hot rolling). Generally, cold rolled steel is tougher to bend than hot rolled steel of the same diameter. Cold rolled is also more consistent in strength and hot rolled varies more.
I have articles posted all over this site about steel bending and other grip strength feats. Also, if you are looking for even more information to get started bending and start climbing the bending ladder, get my Nail Bending eBook. It has everything you need to know for nail bending: a ramp-up schedule to avoid overuse injuries when starting out, a huge exercise index, and all the bending techniques you need to know how to bend like a monster.
Thanks and all the best in your training!