A reader's Concrete and Concreting question: Block starter bars?

Fintan Mc.   from   Bonifay, FL : United States   had this question about block starter bars.

Dear Bill,
I hope you can help me... I'm self building my house and I'm just about to start laying the blocks.
My problem is - some of the rebar was positioned wrong when the monolithic slab was poured - some of them don't sit inside a cell.
I've been told to bend them and chip a piece off the bottom of the block but my question is; how do I best re bend the rebar - do I use heat or just brute force? I don't want to upset the integrity of the slab.
Thanks for your time,
Best regards,
Fintan Mc

Bill's answer

Hi Fintan, Welcome to the club! Everybody who has had anything do do with blockwork has had this problem.

  • First off, what I do when I come across this is a combination of chip the block and bend the bar.
  • Except that we don't chip the block as such, but we use either a lintel block or a knock out bond beam block upside down.
  • That give enough space to maybe get away with say a 45 deg bend.
  • Using heat is too much of a hassle.
  • Rebar steel fixers have on hand made up pairs of cranking bars that would do the job easily (a two man job of course), but again making up a pair of bars is a hassle as well.
  • I always use a sledge hammer to bend the bars. If your slab is old enough to lay the blocks, then you won't damage it by bending the block starter bars.
  • 1/2" bars are fairly easy to do.
  • We use 5/8" bars a lot and a trick I have used is to get a 3ft or 4ft length of 2" or so pipe. Scaffold pipe is ideal.
  • Slip the pipe over the end of the bar, keeping it say 8" up and vertical and get your mate to belt the bar sideways with a sledge hammer right in the middle of the 8" of bar showing
  • With a few swipes you can get a nice offset crank.
  • No flattening it and then lifting it up again.

Another thing, if you find that block starter bars are missing entirely, drill say 5" deep and epoxy them in. We do this all the time with internal walls where the starter bars would be in the way of the concrete finishers.

As I said before, Join the club, you are in for some fun over the next few months Fintan.
Best of luck with your project.


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