What is a Rebar Cutter?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A rebar cutter is a tool for cutting through reinforcing bars, known colloquially as rebar. These extremely strong structural steel components are very useful in construction with concrete, where they add structural integrity and allow contractors to shape structures. Cutting through the steel can be difficult because it is very thick, and this specialized tool makes the process easier and safer than using a cutting torch or adapting another cutting tool.

Rebar, which adds stability to concrete foundations of buildings, must be cut to the appropriate length.
Rebar, which adds stability to concrete foundations of buildings, must be cut to the appropriate length.

The rebar cutter can work in several different ways. Some run off electricity, and either need batteries or access to a power outlet to plug in. Users place a piece of rebar into the jaws of the device and close it to cut the metal bar into two segments. It is also possible to use a hand-held unit, where the operator must cut the rebar with brute strength. Another version of the rebar cutter is a drill bit designed to cut through rebar when people are doing concrete demolition.

Many companies make a combined rebar cutter and bender. Contractors need to bend rebar for many kinds of projects. Sometimes bends create hooks to interlace structural steel, creating a matrix. Bends may also be necessary for adding reinforcement in corners and other tight spaces. The device can have several preset bend angles for the user to choose from. A piece of rebar will lock into the equipment and allow the operator to bend it.

The quality of a rebar cutter can vary considerably. The product should include technical specifications with a disclosure of the maximum grade of rebar the device can bend or cut through. Some may not be able to handle thicker pieces, while others can handle the full range. If the operator attempts to use the device with rebar it is not rated for, it may not work. There is a risk of injury or property damage.

When using a rebar cutter, it is a good idea to wear gloves and facial protection to reduce the risk of injuries. The operator must also make sure the device is on level ground and watch out for other workers in the area. After use, the operator should wipe the machine down and check for damage to the blades. They may periodically require grinding to sharpen them, or replacement, depending on the device. For a battery-powered rebar cutter, it is important to keep a stock of spare batteries charged to avoid holdups on the job site when the device runs out of power.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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