Steel reinforcement is a common requirement for many construction projects, and you may be required to cut and bend steel into shape so that it can support the intended loads and improve the structural integrity of the project. However, the big dilemma facing many project workers is knowing how to do it in the correct fashion.
There are several options at your disposal, and this guide will help you understand the main candidates in greater detail.
What factors influence the decision-making process?
While there are several options for cutting & bending steel mesh at your disposal, it’s important to accept that some are better suited to different circumstance than others.
As such, there isn’t one single perfect method for the cutting and bending needs of every project, meaning you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons of each possible solution.
The right method for the project can be influenced by a host of factors, including but not limited to;
- The type of steel reinforcing bar or mesh that is to be used
- The thickness of the steel reinforcing bar or mesh that is to be used
- Where you are completing the bending process
- What tools are available at the time of completing the task
- What shape you are bending the structure into
Showing an appreciation of the above elements will help guide your decision, but only when you know the different methods available. You should always consult your engineer to ensure the method you select does not ruin the integrity of the steel.
The different methods of bending and cutting steel mesh
Several cutting and bending methods can be utilised, the most common include:
Using bolt cutters to cut steel mesh
Bolt cutters are a particularly effective tool for completing quick and easy cutting of steel rods.
The force generated by the cutters will provide a smooth and instant break while also producing a good level of accuracy.
While the situations in which this method may be used are fairly limited, it is a very efficient option under the right circumstances.
Using a circular saw to cut steel mesh
A circular saw with a metal cutting blade will offer a very quick work of any steel rebar, cutting through it with particular ease.
This is often seen as the go-to solution, particularly when handling an off-site prefabricated cut.
Using a manual saw to cut steel mesh
When a powered circular saw isn’t available, a manual saw will do the job.
It can still produce accurate results as long as the metal is held tightly in place, but it will take more time.
Bending steel mesh by hand
When working with very thin pieces of steel, it may also be possible to bend the rod by hand.
Of course, it will be a test of your strength, and it’ll also prove difficult to get the accurate bend that you need. Nevertheless, when a fast solution is required and you don’t have the right tools available, it can be a good last resort.
Bending steel mesh with a blow torch
Is it quick? No.
Is it cost-effective? No.
Nonetheless, using a torch can be used to cut and bend the steel reo bar or mesh into the desired shape.
“The benefits of on-site fabrication are that you can make decisions as the project develops and adapt to the situation. However, it can be time-consuming while the chances of inaccurate results are far greater.”
It’s a job that will require a greater level of expertise than some of the alternative methods, but does give you good control over the shapes.
It is especially useful when other tools are unavailable.
Bending steel mesh with a pipe and bar
Simply fix the steel into place, and then use a bar to knock the end downward.
This creates a bend in the steel with minimal fuss and also allows you to dictate the angle so that an appropriate shape can be made for the job at hand.
Alternatively, you can use a vice and torch the steel to make it more malleable.
On-site or prefabricated?
As the list of methods above should show, some (but not all) bending and cutting jobs can be completed on-site by a skilled worker.
The benefits of on-site fabrication are that you can make decisions as the project develops and adapt to the situation.
However, it can be time-consuming while the chances of inaccurate results are far greater.
Prefabricated steel reinforcing solutions mean that you have the option to use any of the above methods.
Moreover, if you’re worried about the time, costs, or accuracy, the task can be outsourced to a specialist, allowing you to focus on other aspects of the construction project.
Given the importance of getting it right, this might be the best answer, especially when a high degree of accuracy and efficiency is required.