Bending conduit pipe is a precise art form typically used by electricians. The pipe must be bent in order to run the it in a neat and workmanlike manner. Conduit pipe can also be used to make structures such as tent frames and outdoor furniture. The pipe is bent using a handheld conduit bender. Specific-sized benders are used for pipes of different diameters. Using a larger pipe bender for smaller pipe can be done, but the resulting bends will be very inaccurate.
The Markings on a Bender
Each sized bender has specific markings. An arrow at the front of the bending shoe designates a specific point for pipe placement. A star marks the midpoint of the shoe for the radius of a bend. A take-up number is identified on each specific-sized bender. The take-up is the amount of distance to be added or subtracted from the measurement of a bend. A ½-inch bender will have a take-up of 5 inches. A ¾-inch bender will use a 6-inch take-up, and a 1-inch bender will need an allowance of 8 inches.
A 90-Degree Bend
Suppose you want to make a 90-degree bend in a ½-inch pipe with the stub being 12 inches long. The stub will be the short end of the 90-degree bend. Measure back 12 inches from the end of the pipe. Subtract 5 inches, the take-up measurement, from this and make a bend mark at 7 inches. Place this mark at the arrow on the shoe. Leave the 7 inches of pipe sticking out from the front of the bender. Pull the handle back smoothly until the pipe makes a 90-degree angle. The top of the stub when measured should be 12 inches from the floor.
Bending an Offset
An offset is bent in a pipe to change the pipe's angle. Generally 3½ inches are added between the bending marks for every inch of rise or angle change in the running pipe. For example, suppose you want to make an offset with a 2-inch angle or rise change in the pipe. Make the first bend mark on the pipe 6 inches in from one end. This is an arbitrary distance. Multiply 3½ inches times 2 and make another mark 7 inches from the 6-inch mark, or 13 inches from the end. Place the pipe in the bender at the first mark. Pull the handle back until it is straight up and down. Remove the pipe and rotate it 180 degrees in the bender. Place the second mark at the arrow and pull the handle again to a straight up-and-down position. The rise of the pipe when measured from a flat surface should be a 2-inch offset or rise.
Saddle bends are used so the conduit can go over existing pipes already placed in walls or ceilings. They are laid out in the same way as an offset. Mark the center of the obstruction on the conduit. It is important to find the exact center measurement in relation to the pipe being bent. Use the same 3½-inch rule for the rise of the obstruction. Place a mark on either side of the center mark. In the case of a 2-inch diameter pipe as the obstruction, a 7-inch mark would be placed on either side of the center point mark. Place the center mark on the star of the bender and make a 45-degree bend. The bending shoe will have angle increments placed on the side of the shoe. Remove the pipe and rotate 180 degrees like the offset bend. Place the 7-inch mark on the arrow and bend a 22½-degree angle on one side of the saddle. Remove the pipe and perform the same angled bend to the other 7-inch mark. Keep the pipe in a line so the bend is not off the correct plane.
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