I've had a 50' fish tape for close to 30 years. (It's been used lightly.) On my last use, as I was rolling it back up, it got to be really, really difficult to roll back into its case with about 10' to go. I unrolled it and noticed that it had a bunch of bends in it and those were making it tough to roll back up.

My first thought was to unbend it, but, sadly, there are a whole series of them. When laid out, there are no kinks - it looks like a bunch of waves. I think it got caught on a joint in conduit and my attempts to push past that wrinkled it with each shove. Poor technique on my part, I'm sure.

I plan to cut off the damaged bit and attempt to bend a curve back into the leading end as similar as possible to what's currently there.

This is a 1/8" x .060 steel tape, how can I get a tight bend into the end of the tape and have it stay (since spring steel has a tendency to, well, spring)?

For the record: GB Steel Tape. Catalog No. FTS-50B 50' x 1/8" x .060"

It's served me well and I'd hate to have to retire the ol' gal.

  • 1
    How about just un-bending the bends? It sounds a great deal easier to do that than create a 180 bend that is reliable. Jul 26, 2020 at 1:23
  • If you have to cut it then you have to replace it or do not replace it until you really need to. I used mine once in 10 years.
    – d.george
    Jul 26, 2020 at 11:32

2 Answers 2


The original hook was probably cold formed, so try to do the same. you'll want to avoid sharp bends so use a rounded form to bend around

eg clamp the tape between a screwdriver shank and your workbench and bend the free end back over the screwdriver

When you let go it'll spring back somewhat so you'll probably need to finish with the tape and screwdriver in a vise, and overbend and allow it to spring back to the desired shape.


Even spring steel will hold a bend if you take it far enough. The only question is whether it snaps before you get an acute enough angle.

I'd snip off the damaged length, then drop the new end in a vice, but a fair bit longer than the final hook should be. Slowly hammer it over until you're at 90 degrees, then take it out and mount it sideways in the vice. While holding the long hook down as far as you can by hand, continue to hammer the bend tighter. Once it's to about 135 degrees you can probably take it out of the vice and rest it on top for the final bending. Then trim the hook to length.

If you find that the metal wants to snap off or tear you may have to heat it with a torch and work it hot, or maybe ask a friend to weld a hook on it. I'm no blacksmith, though, and can't offer much advice there.

  • 2
    Heating it with a torch works every time.+1
    – JACK
    Jul 26, 2020 at 0:35
  • 1
    @JACK - Yeah unless you happen to quench it in water to cool off the hot part. This may very well make it so hard and brittle that it will break at first use,
    – Michael Karas
    Jul 26, 2020 at 4:51

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