Introduction: Rebar Tent Stakes

Picture of Rebar Tent Stakes

This is a cheap and easy way to make heavy duty tent or tarp stakes. I'm using them for Burning Man to tie down my dome and stake a tarp from my truck to the playa. Reading Burning Man's playa tips I've learned that two foot long pieces of rebar seem to be the best way to go. I've also learned that rebar can be very dangerous if left exposed. I've added a cap to the top to give a slightly larger area to hammer and to make them safe.

UPDATE: I've redesigned the stakes for this year's burn. I think they are work better than the old design because they're more reliable. Maybe it's because I'm not the best welder, but some of the loops and caps have fallen off the old stakes. My new method seems like they will last longer without any problems. I've listed the new materials in the list of materials. I may weld a loop to the nut for holding rope and ratchet straps. It would be easier than using the carabiner. I used a grinder to sharper the end of the rebar a little to help it go into the ground with less resistance. Pulling them out of the ground was easy. I used a wrench to turn the stake while pulling. The washers help give extra grip. Use Loctite on the threads to keep the bolt from coming out (or weld it in place).

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

The materials are cheap and easily found at most hardware stores.

New stake materials:

1. 1/2" x 24" rebar - $1.50

2. 5/8" x 2" nut - $1.20

3. 5/8" x 1" bolt - $0.70

4. 5/8" washers (2) - $0.20

Original stake design:

1. 1/2" x 24" rebar - $1.50

2. 3/8" x 2" steel rings - $0.95

3. 1/2" black pipe cap - $0.49

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools

1. Welder

2. Wire brush

3. Vise

4. Personal protection - Welding helmet, gloves and jacket

5. Hardibacker - I have a 1/2' piece to protect my concrete from welding burns.

Step 3: Welding

Picture of Welding

Clamp the rebar horizontally in the vise. It should be as level as possible so your cap and ring are straight. Wire brush the rebar clean before welding. Put the cap on the end of the rebar and tack weld. Once you have the cap in place you can weld it to the rebar from the back side. Turn the rebar 180 degrees so the tack weld is facing down. Place the ring against the bottom of the cap and tack weld it in place. Once the ring is tacked, you can finish welding it along the cap and the rebar. After the ring was welded, I turned the rebar back 180 degrees and filled in the hollow area inside the cap with the welder to make it as solid as possible.

Step 4: Rebar-rific

Picture of Rebar-rific

After you're done welding, clean the slag with your wire brush and you're done. You could grind the weld boogers and paint them bright colors, but I'm not going to do that.


beamer.smith (author)2015-06-23

Using a simple
torch, bend the rebar into a long legged P and hammer (while hot) a flat
top on it.. 1 piece solution (we use these to hold guy lines on stages

Use a pin jig to make the bending easier and consistent...

Weld a short piece of rebar across the back of the P (so it looks like a T at 90 degrees and a P straight on) grind off all the burs and what not.. The T allows for attaching different ways and using a large forked lever makes removal easier..

buildandsewandstuff (author)2014-10-05

Great Idea! These look like they would work great in sandy areas, like beach camping, too!

baecker03 (author)2014-07-26

could use an acid bath to get to iron then weld and then reapply a coating to prevent oxidation. would be more resilient and last longer.

sriley-2 (author)2012-07-07

Wow, talk about over kill, although necessary if you are going to keep your tent in place during a hurricane. This was well thought out and is a great starting point for building your own tent stakes, and you have room for improvement if you decide to recreate these again later on. Nice Job, this is something unique and though I wont be building something like this, its a good reference to see what other people have done.

tk1314 (author)sriley-22012-07-10

Yes, they are overkill for the average camper, but the winds can get pretty fierce at Burning Man. The stakes are used to keep big shade structures from blowing away. You're essentially holding a sail to the ground.

Beelzibubbles (author)tk13142013-09-01

When I bought my canvas bell tent for LARP events, it came with everything, including massive groundsheet, industrial strength guy ropes, rebar pegs with 7 spares and a metal mallet.
Oddly enough my tent has never blown away. Not even dislodged by drunk people tripping over the guy ropes.
One peg goes walkabout each year and I only just have enough now, can't find anywhere that sells them as the place that made the tent was closing, hence only £120 for the lot.

Ricardo Furioso (author)2013-07-18

It occurs to me that a bunch of old tennis balls
with slots in them would make these stakes a
LOT less hard on the toes.

fzbw9br (author)2011-03-13

the cast metal cap will not last, it will disintegrate with muliple hits.

and the ring is expensive to buy by itself

what I would use is a large chain, cut down each link and weld with the REBAR inside the link end. set the link down, and place the REBAR end into it standing up and weld from the bottom,

you end up with a solid flat top to pound on, and still have a ring. and it won't disintegrate, only bend, and if the weld starts to crack, you can reweld. You can't do that with a cast cap.

Get a can of white, and a can of bright orange paint. first paint white, then overpaint with orange. it will really stand out

jsadler1 (author)fzbw9br2011-06-18

Why not bend rebar into a u shape and drive it into the ground. No tiny end to puncture anyone and that little U at the top is great for holding a knot or bungee.

arthursuemnicht (author)2011-02-15

This is a great idea. I am totally going to make some for this year. I noticed that your steel ring is coated in zinc. Thats what makes it so shiney. It also makes it rust resistant. Most importantly, when heated, zinc creates zinc oxcide smoke. If you breath too much you will come down with "metal fume fever". Its alot like having the flu for a couple days and it sucks. Also, it puts impurities into your welds, weakening them. I would sugest investing in an angle grinder and some flapper wheels. Clean them off untill you get to the raw steel, then you can weld. Super strong welds and no zinc poisioning. Thats a plus in my books. See you on the playa!

tk1314 (author)arthursuemnicht2011-02-16

I did have two of the rings fall off as I was pounding them into the playa. It could have been the zinc coating or my inexperience with welding (or both). Luckily I had extra stakes. They've lasted three trips to Burning Man so far. I usually have a fan going or I hold my breath (really) when I'm welding because I'm just a little paranoid of breathing anything bad. Thanks for the tip on the zinc coating. I've learned the hard way that the metal should be cleaned very well before welding in order to get a good weld.

Gravity Boy (author)2009-11-12

Those are great steaks! Though these look good in the natural metal color, you could paint the top cap a bright color so they can be seen by playa eyes in the dark.

One trick that I use for removing the steaks from the desert floor is a medium size monkey wrench, just grab the steak mid way, pull up and twist. They come out of the ground without much effort. Beats pushing them back and forth.

Gravity Boy

tk1314 (author)Gravity Boy2009-11-19

 I hammer them all the way into the ground so painting them isn't necessary. The ring makes them easy to remove without wrenches.

ironsmiter (author)2008-08-03

I like the addition of the ring and cap(soo much better than simply bending the end into an L shape, and driving it in) Good instructable, and have fun on the playa.

tk1314 (author)ironsmiter2008-08-04

Thanks for the info. I am planning on taking a course soon. I looked online a lot and watched the video that came with my welder but I'd like to be more proficient. I'm building a bike trailer now out of some left over rebar and other things I had in my garage and backyard. I'll post it here as soon as I finish.

tk1314 (author)tk13142009-08-07

Update: I gave up on the trailer and just used a basket on my bike. I needed it at Burning Man to carry ice back to my camp. The trailer was a little too much.

jongscx (author)ironsmiter2008-08-22

shouldn't it be more of a J shape, so that the sharp end is pointed completely down?

tk1314 (author)jongscx2008-08-23

The sharp end is in the ground. The ring stays above's not sharp.

jongscx (author)tk13142008-08-23

Oh, I was commenting to ironsmite about bending it into an L... and how somebody can still impale themselves on the piece that's perp to the ground...

Mind_Reaper (author)2009-05-20

you could easily weld those together using a oxi / white gas and a steel coat hangers. just melt plastic coating off first.

ortho (author)2008-08-25

is that basil

tk1314 (author)ortho2008-09-02

They are tomato, cucumber and bell pepper plants.

ortho (author)tk13142008-09-02

i saw the tomato plants some peppers look like basil

Calorie (author)2008-08-28

I had an interesting conversation with a man who worked at Harbor Freight. It was concerning the quality of the welders they carry. It turns out that he was a naval yard welder for 30 years. His opinion was that the Harbor Freight units were fine. He made the point that be it a Lincoln welder or what not, they all still use the same parts inside the box. He was making the point (although I doubt that he was aware of it) that welders are a lot like PCs. A laptop is a laptop when all factors are held constant. Pretty much all of the parts are from China, and often the same parts from the same factory are sourced into each brand of computer. The thing that separates them is customer service and prestige. You do pay more for cycle time, but as was mentioned above most mortal instructable people weld for short spurts with long interruptions. I imagine that you could add a more aggresive cooling system is need be, but I doubt that it is unnecessary, nor would you gain a significant increase in welding time.

theRIAA (author)2008-08-01

those look awesome... i need a welder, how much was that one?

tk1314 (author)theRIAA2008-08-01

This one was $629 at Home Depot. They have one for $250 and I've also seen them on sale at Harbor Freight for $150.

theRIAA (author)tk13142008-08-01

i didn't know the cheap ones could weld think things. This is probably completely obvious, but what type is it? is that the kind that feeds the rods through? for $150 i might just go buy one. iv'e seen them at harbor freight.

tk1314 (author)theRIAA2008-08-01

The more powerful (and expensive) they are, the thicker the steel you can weld. I would think the cheap one from Harbor Freight would work for this, or you can rent them at Home Depot. It's the kind that feeds the wire when you push the trigger. I just taught myself how to weld, so I'm no expert, but it's pretty easy. Getting a good looking bead is the hard part...I'm not there yet.

ironsmiter (author)tk13142008-08-03

it's a GMAW welder(aka mig).
The "easiest" to learn, for home-metal butchery.

ANY welding machine can weld ANY thickness.
ok, not strictly true. too THIN can be a problem.
but too thick is easy to overcome. You lay down many smaller weld beads, instead of one large bruteforce weld bead.

Even a homemade welder could weld 4 inch thick plate. but you would need to bevel the edges, use a LOT of filler metal, and it would take quite a while to finish. It WOULD work though :-)

The other limiting factor for the cheap welders is "duty cycle".
that's how long it can run before needing to cool off. For instance, a 40% duty cycle machine could probably weld a 3 inch bead(30-45 seconds), before needing to NOT weld for a min or two. The high end machines($500+ usually) can often acieve 100% duty cycle, at medium or low settings. To do heavy welding, non-stop, you're gonna be looking at BIG money. For small welding projects like this, it's not an issue cause you're "off cycle" is usually more than covered, getting things aligned, post-weld cleaning(you ARE removing the slag, right?) and positioning for the next tack or bead.

Don't think you HAVE to get a gmaw machine though.Simple stick welding "buzz boxes" can be had for under $100us. and can use welding rods as cheap as old coat hangers, random pieces of wire, I've even seen pieces of chain link fence used (though beware ANY welding/heating/soldering of galvanized materials). Beginning welders do tend to have more trouble striking, and maintaining an arc with stick welding, and it's much harder to weld "sheet" metal(under 1/8th inch). But in exchange, you get cheaper rods(as compared to the more expensive wire reels and possibly gas tanks/refills if you don't use cored wire) and you GAIN the ability to CUT metal with your welder.

ok, enough of my spiel.
Consider, at least taking a weekend welding safety course, at the local university/community college. and if you're gonna be doinging anything that HAS to stick, take instruction in the type of machine you intend to work with. It's a lot easier to get a weld to LOOK good than it is to make a weld ACTUALLY good. If in doubt, hit it with a sledgehammer. If it bends, it's good. If it breaks at the weld, it's not.

static (author)ironsmiter2008-08-22

I agree for most home and farm shops a simple quality 220 V. stick welder may be suffecient. Those with a little experiance might opt to spend a little more to get an AC/DC unit. Often flux coated welding rod can get damp to the point where it doesn't work satisfactory for jobs that have to pass muster and van be gotten for free and woks fine for cutting. Ask at a local shop that owns portable truck mounted welders, as the rod carried by them is more likely to become damp.

static (author)2008-08-22

I generally make stakes out of salvage 3/4" oil field sucker rod and simply weld a 3/4" flat washer on top

cerberustugowar (author)2008-08-04

if you get a mig welder at some big box store I would guess the box it comes in will mention something about being able to weld up to (whatever size) the cheaper units that everyone is talking about are 110v flux core wire units I am guessing and they can weld upto a MAXIMUM 1/4". I'm sure you could weld 4" steel plate if you really wanted but I could also dig a gravel pit with a wooden spoon eventually.

Duty cycle is important as someone else has mentioned. If you're looking for a 100% duty cycle unit (the units that are run in fabrication shops for many hours on end) I would guess something more along the lines of $5000+ dollars if you want a quick run down of some units a reputable company has check out or look up lincoln or miller mig welders.

My best suggestion would be if you have a friend that works somewhere that has a mig welder see if they can hook you up. If not that maybe hit up a fabrication shop, auto repair, steel shop or even throw out an ad on craigs list maybe. If you're wanting to make these you might as well do it once and do it right.

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