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What is the Best Material for Wrapping Nails?

Bent IronMind Red Nail – Do You Have What it Takes?

Bending has come so far since I started doing it, it isn’t even funny.

When Smitty and I started bending we used to wrap a canvas wrist wrap around whatever we were bending. This would often result in a very loose wrap and the bar we were bending would slip all over the place. We could get no leverage on the nail because we were grasping and pinching at the slim piece of material. We had to be extremely cautious when we were bending because if the nail or bar slipped it would bite us in the hand or finger. Each bend had the chance to injure us.

Here is one of the very first videos I ever put out. You can see that it is wrapped with a leather strap, slightly longer than the canvas strap we first started using.

Good thing that was only 1/4-inch HRS!

Later on, we realized that most people were wrapping their nails with towels. We tried hand towels, rags, bath towels and beach towels. The good thing about wrapping with towels is that you can wrap them VERY tightly around the object your bending. That is what you want, because that way the towel won’t slip on you while you are going for the kink or the crush-down.

However, it never seemed to fail that with each bend, the end of the nail would puncture through the towel wrapping. No matter what, we could not figure out how to wrap with towels without running the risk of getting poked.

In the video below, you’ll see me bend a Grade 5 bolt wrapped in a couple of shop rags that I got from the Dollar General. They were a bit thicker than the corny handkerchief on my head – what the hell was I thinkin’?

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Bank Bag – Imagine wrapping your nails with this bunchy thing…PAIN IN THE ASS!

As time went on, I competed in more and more grip contests, and I’d take notice of how other benders were wrapping their nails and bars. One pair of dudes from New Hampshire I competed against used an old bank bag, similar to the one in the picture above. Those things are nearly impermeable by the points of nails and bolts, but unfortunately they bunch up and are hard to wrap tightly around the nail. A loose wrap means the material will slip on you when you go for the kink.

IronMind Wraps – Photo from

One type of wrapping material that you are able to wrap tight without worry of getting pierced by the point of a nail or the sharp edge of a hacksawed piece of steel is cordura. Cordura is the material the IronMind’s wraps are made out of. This woven material is great for a barrier to keep yourself safe while bending, but unfortunately, it yields very little padding. This thin material turns bending into a more of a test of pain tolerance than a test of strength. It also tends to bunch up on you, like bank bag material.

Now, you could easily wrap what you are bending with a layer of cordura for the near indestructibility off it, and then put towel wrap over it to cushion the bend. This will result in a nice tight wrap, but if you’re shooting for a dozen or so bends per workout, who has the time to wrap each item twice???

So what the hell are you supposed to wrap your bends with?

To re-cap:

    Towels will pad you well and can be wrapped tightly, but they give you almost no injury protection.

    Cordura is almost invincible but is difficult to wrap tightly and makes your hands feel like you forgot to wrap the nail.

    Bank bags – don’t even waste your time trying to get your hands on these bunchy bastards.

What to wrap nails with is the question that keeps many beginning benders from seriously shooting for bending supremacy. Luckily, you don’t have to worry anymore.

Over the years, suede leather became the accepted standard for bending steel. Suede is the perfect combination of tightness, padding and protection.

The suede we first wrapped with came from a welder’s cloak that Smitty bought off of E-bay. This stuff started out great, but it was just thin enough that after a few bends the the steel would poke through. We have eventually found other resources for getting leather that is a bit thicker and resilient.

I have used suede leather for bending ever since then and have used the very same wraps for the last 2+ years.

There has been some confusion as to whether the term for what we wrap around nails and bolts is leather or suede, and I am by no means a leatherologist, but as near as I can tell, what we are using is suede. According to, “Smooth leather, also called grain leather is the top outer layer of the animal’s skin. The difference between leather and suede is the finish applied to that skin.”

Suede and leather vary in thickness, roughness, and durability. This is important to take note of because as it turns out, according to Tandy Leather’s website,

    “Leather is usually measured in terms of ounces. One ounce equals 1/64th of an inch thickness. Thus, a weight of 7 to 8 oz. means the leather is 7/64th to 8/64th of an inch thickness. In an effort to make leather a uniform thickness, wet hides are run through a splitting machine. However, each animal is different and there is always a slight thickness variation throughout the hide. This is why leathers are usually shown with a range of thickness, such as, 4 to 5 oz., 6 to 7 oz., etc.”

In other words, because of this variation, you may have to do some digging to find suede that you like for bending. There are many places you can get suede from. Below are some of the most common ways the benders I know get the leather they use for bending.

Below are several bends I did at a contest in 2007 with suede wraps.

Leather Sources

    FBBCFat Bastard Barbell Company – John Beatty supports more grip contests than anybody, plus he sells good wraps.

    Tandy Leather Company – They have a website and dealer stores as well. Many benders just buy remnants from them for their wrapping material and cut it to size. By the sounds, the stores are all over the place.

    Ebay – Brent Barbe once suggested a specific Ebay store for getting leather for bending.

Scraps can also be gotten by contacting people who work with it every day. Examples include: Blacksmiths, Ferriers, Leather Upholstery Shops, and other places that work with leather.

Once you find suede that you like, buy plenty of it so you have extra for all the bending you’ll be doing in the future. There is no doubt, that suede leather is the way to go if you are interested in making BIG BENDS. Suede gives you padding from the pain, protection from the possibility of puncture, and can be wrapped tight for optimal bending power.

Adam Glass’s cowhide wraps – These are what I use

Got other reliable sources for suede you’d like to share? Leave a comment below! Thanks!

All the best in your training,


P.S. Want more bending information? Check out these great posts from here on the Diesel site and on my Blogspot!

Intro to Nail Bending
Info on my Bending eBook
Adam Glass – Endurance Bending
Advanced Nail Wrapping
More Info on my Bending eBook
Nail Bending is Fun
Adding Bending into Your Program
Ben Edwards – Crushdown Pad Tutorial
Bending Nails for Fun and Strength
Adam Glass – Double Underhand Technique

Those should get you started!

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3 Responses to “What is the Best Material for Wrapping Nails?”

  1. Joe Hashey Says:

    Lots of info in there! Thanks Jedd.

  2. Jedd Says:

    Get your hands on some suede and start bending some steel, Mister Hashey!

  3. Coach mike Says:

    I have been slipping aviation grade and marine grade fuel line lengths over nails for some time. They are double walled and have a tough inner woven core. great padding and have never had one tear through on a bend. I do pitch them when they show the cords. But on a safty note a buddy watched me show off bending for him one night. He saw me cut a land scape spike with the Chi town credit card(bolt cutters). A few days later he stopped by and handed me a gift. It was a deburring tool that fits in the end of a drill. I clamp them in a vise and in 2 seconds all the sharp edges are gone!

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