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What Are Rodbusters?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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A rodbuster sounds like a tool that busts rods, or someone who breaks down rods for a living, but this is not the case. A rodbuster is someone who works on a construction site and secures metal rods and bars into concrete to keep the building from collapsing. Many skills are needed to be an effective rodbuster, such as physical strength and knowing how to use tools, as is a knowledge of geometry. Without good geometry skills, rodbusters might bend a bar too far or not enough, which can ruin the building’s durability. Most rodbusters will need certifications to use the rod-bending tools, and most training is done on the job, but a college degree in mathematics can be helpful.

When the skeleton of a building is made, there are large concrete forms at the bottom for the foundation. Although concrete is strong, it is not invulnerable. This is why a rodbuster is called in to help secure the building’s skeleton. He or she is responsible for driving metal bars or rods into the concrete to further create the skeleton and to reinforce the building’s construction. Without a rodbuster, buildings could collapse within a relatively short period of time.

Rodbusters and contractors typically work together to adequately plan the building’s construction. First, the contractor will work on the concrete forms and will review the plans with the rodbuster. The rodbuster will then make plans for how to get the metal bars into the concrete for the best durability, and the two will look over those plans and make any revisions. For this reason, a rodbuster needs great teamwork skills to avoid conflicts on the job and to avoid poor building construction.

Even though machines are mostly used for the bending and manipulating of metal, physical strength and endurance are essential for rodbusters. They need to move the heavy tools, use them on the large pieces of metal and constantly move around. Along with stamina, a rodbuster must not be afraid of heights or get vertigo at certain heights. Rodbusters frequently work up high, so they must be able to work under these conditions.

Perhaps more important than stamina for a rodbuster are geometry and math skills. If the rodbuster does not know how to adequately measure angles or how to best secure the building, then everything can fall apart. This is why most rodbusters will need a college degree in mathematics such as geometry. Most of the other requirements, such as tool knowledge, can be taught on the job. Certifications might be needed to use some of the tools.

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Discussion Comments

By anon999386 — On Dec 25, 2017

Rebar is easy. You basically work out all day packing out rebar, shaking it out then tying it in place.

A competent person will mark the layout of where the rebar is to be placed while a person is behind him placing the rebar then a person behind him tying it. It is very competitive and fun work. Just like any job, there are good and bad sides but overall it keeps you in shape and food on the table, plus when you're done with your job, you will be standing on a building that was just a pile of dirt before you got there. Most people can't say that.

By anon994113 — On Jan 15, 2016

Rod busting is not for everyone. It doesn't require a degree, but there is math involved. Having a degree helps if you want to become a foreman. You need to track how much weight you install each day and keep running totals (this info is not on the blueprints.) You are going to have blisters on your hands from the pliers and wire. You are going to have to have a good back, because if you can't tie at least 18 ties per minute, you are going to be carrying bundles of rebar, and placing it the whole day.

By anon990995 — On May 20, 2015

This made me chuckle. A math degree? Seriously? Geometry is taught in junior high school or high school. If you are going to suffer through a math degree, you might as well switch majors to engineering and become employable. It is the engineer who determines what rebar and where, anyway. A rodbuster is simply a skilled trade who follows the engineer's drawings. It is physical labor, to be sure, and it takes common sense and experience. It does not require a math degree! Too funny. Not much use for differential equations or boolean algebra here, my friends. Just follow the drawings.

By Ruggercat68 — On Oct 21, 2014

When I helped do some construction work for a friend, he said he was going to have to hire a rodbuster to help with the foundation. I had no idea what he was talking about. I figured there wasn't much of a science behind the installation of rebar. It was a good thing we brought in a professional, that's for sure. Concrete isn't much good without rebar, and you need to know exactly where to put it.

By Reminiscence — On Oct 20, 2014

I did some construction work as a day laborer years ago, and the boss assigned me to work with a rodbuster. I had no idea how much planning went into that job. My job was to load up a cart with rebar (metal bars used to reinforce concrete) and follow behind the rodbuster as he went down the line of cement-filled cinder blocks. We had to move pretty quickly, because the cement was starting to cure.

He knew how long the rebar had to be in order to reach the bottom of the foundation blocks, and another one of my jobs was measure out the rebar and use basic rodbuster tools to trim it to size. If there was any bending to be done, he did it himself. I didn't have the skills to figure out the right angle for the bends.

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