Why would you even want to bend steel? I’ve been asked that question more than once. To be honest it’s a completely valid question. Bending steel with your hands is not for everyone and on the surface it might not make much sense. So why would you want to learn how to bend steel?
First off let me clarify, short steel bending is also known as nail bending. This is different from bending longer pieces of steel. This article focuses on the smaller nail size steel, even if you are not actually bending real nails. Though either way, long or short, its tough work and a bit crazy.
In almost all cases you’ll have some sort of padding on the steel, leather being my favorite. Generally the less is better, as some people go overboard. If you want to showcase your hand toughness and pain tolerance you can match people like John Brookfield who can bend nails bare handed.
Here’s a video of me demonstrating a bend with a 60D (pronounced 60-penny) nail. It’s not the best nor quickest bend but this is after getting back after a layoff from bending for a couple months. And the fourth nail in the workout. Still you can see how its done.
When you do get started bending you’ll find it is one of the ultimate wrist and hand strengtheners. In addition, nail bending also works the entire body. Believe me, you have to be able to summon up all your strength to bend a short piece of steel into a u-shape.
If you add in steel bending to your training you’re likely to find many of your other lifts go up. Steel bending requires you to use your entire body in a single explosive effort against it. Think that could help when you are pressing or doing a deadlift? Absolutely.
The weak link in the chain for most people is their hands and wrists. Learning how to bend nails will not only build up that wrist and hand strength but it’ll link your entire body into the effort.
Plus bending nails is just plan fun. Perhaps this is where the craziness comes in. It’s satisfying to feel the steel give under your might. And then you have the evidence.
When you do a lift and finish it there’s nothing to show what you just accomplished. With nail bending you have the proof of your strength left in your hands. In fact, I keep all my ‘firsts’ on a trophy board.
There are many different ways you can bend nails with your hands. But the three main methods are double overhand, double underhand, and my favorite, reverse as demonstrated in the video.
A classic feat of old-time strongmen was to bend a 60D nail. This is not the easiest bend in the world, nor where most people should or can start, but basically your entrance into doing feats of strength few others can match. From there you can push the boundaries from bolts up to Ironmind’s Red Nail and beyond.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about don’t worry. Any group will have it’s own terminology. But if you want to get started keep reading.
Bending nails is not something you want to go into without instruction. If you do it wrong, as so many people do, it can lead to hand injuries, even nerve damage. Usually this is just a case of going too hard, too fast. My biggest caution is to take it slow. But the benefits are worth it.
The best thing is the game plan is already done. Diesel Crew has written a whopper of a manual (over 180 pages) on bending steel. It will get you familiar with everything you need to know. Starting out, wrapping nails, building up to bigger bends, different nails, steel, and bolts, bending techniques and more.
Even if you weren’t into bending the exercises listed for training your wrists in all 6 directions of movement are worth it. In fact, it’s a great guide just for hand strength even without the steel bending.
But if you are interested in bending nails at all, I highly recommend you get
The Diesel Guide to Bending Nails.
If you want to get started learning how to bend steel this is your first step.