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How to Properly Size & Make a Pair Of Winding Bars for Installing Garage Door Torsion Springs

The replacement of a worn or broken torsion spring on a garage door is a task that demands close attention. One of the most critical parts of replacing a torsion spring is the winding of the spring. The winding process requires the use of a pair of specialized tools known as winding bars. These tools can be purchased, but they can also be inexpensively made at home. Below is how to properly size and make a pair of winding bars for use when installing a torsion spring:

Tools and materials needed

  • Inside calipers
  • Steel rod in appropriate diameter
  • Steel ruler accurate to sixteenths of an inch
  • Tape measure
  • Scratch awl
  • Hacksaw with new blade
  • Bench vise
  • File
  • Electrical tape

Step-by-step procedure

1. Determine the inside diameter of the winding bar sockets—At each end of the torsion springs, two devices known as cones work together with the spring to store and transfer energy to operate the garage door. One cone, the stationary cone, is fastened to a fixed mount and serves as an immovable mount for the spring.

At the opposite end, the winding cone is designed to both transfer energy to a rotating shaft that lifts and lowers the door. The winding cone is also equipped for the user to utilize winding bars during the process of spring installation. The winding cone contains four sockets, evenly spaced around the circumference of the cone, and these are where the bars are inserted during winding.

To make a winding cone that is safe to use, the exact diameter of the socket should be measured if it isn’t known. A pair of inside calipers can be used for this procedure; simply insert each tip of the calipers into the socket and adjust the calipers until the tips just touch the inside walls of the socket. Next, compare the gap between the caliper tips to the distance on a steel ruler. Most winding cone sockets are one-half of an inch, but you may encounter other sizes, especially on older doors.

2. Purchase a steel rod in the appropriate diameter—Once you know the exact diameter of the winding cone socket, your next step is to buy a smooth steel rod that is the same diameter. Home improvement and hardware stores carry steel rods in their stock, and you should be able to locate the correct size. Each winding bar should be 18 inches in length, so buy a rod that is at least 36 inches in length.

Be sure to buy only rods made of steel; aluminum, copper or any other non-ferrous metals are not strong enough to withstand the forces placed upon them and could permit the rod to suddenly bend or break during use. In addition, never use a threaded rod for winding bars, as they aren’t able to properly grip the inside of the socket.

3. Make your winding bars—After buying the steel rod, your next step is to cut it down to size. With a tape measure, mark off 18 inches and make a small scratch with an awl. Fasten the winding bar in a bench vise and use a hacksaw to cut across the mark at a perpendicular angle; it is important that the cut be made exactly at a 90-degree angle to the bar, as any deviation from this can cause the bar to slip during use. Once you have cut the first bar, measure and cut the second bar accordingly.

After cutting the bars, use a metal file to carefully remove any burs or excessively-sharp edges from the ends. Just remove enough metal to prevent potential cuts and to permit the bar to slide into the socket. Be sure not to not round-off the ends, as this can cause the bar to wiggle excessively during use.

4. Test the winding bars—It is important to test your newly-made winding bars before using them. To test, insert each winding bar into the winding cone sockets, then attempt to wiggle them side to side. There should be a minimal amount of slack in the fit, and anything more than a couple of inches indicates the bar is improperly-sized or the ends were not cut correctly. Discard any winding bars that don’t slide into the sockets with a nearly exact fit.

If the bars fit correctly, wrap a piece of electrical tape around the bars to mark the depth of insertion. This serves as a visual reminder that the tape should always be flush with the edge of the socket; halfway insertions can lead to slipping and accidental, uncontrolled unwinding of the torsion spring.

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