Ah yes… The art of bending conduit. Yes it is an art form to me only because it can take all forms that you can imagine.
What do I mean by that you ask? Well, it goes like this…
It takes sometime to plot and plan your route to run conduit, even if it is an empty ceiling, floor or wall.
Sometimes you have to get that pipe in some super tight spaces as well and it has to look nice, no sloppy work!
Things to know before you start the art of bending conduit
First off you need to know the basics and I will try to explain.
Conduit comes in all forms whether it is EMT, PVC, IMC or even RIGID and though all are electrical conduit they have vast
I will start with this:
- EMT is Electrical Metallic Tubing
- PVC is Poly Vinyl Chloride
- IMC is Intermediate Metal Conduit (which is a bit lighter version of RMC)
- RMC is Rigid Metallic Conduit (which also comes in Aluminum)
There are other types of conduit that we can use but I will start with these as not to confuse anyone.
Emt is used for most applications above ground, in walls, ceilings or other “dry locations” or where you would not expect
to receive any physical damage.
PVC is used where you are either installing underground in dirt, water or concrete. Yep, it’s waterproof if installed correctly.
IMC is the same as RMC just a bit lighter. I have not used IMC much on most jobs but I have used it.
RMC is a heavy wall metallic conduit used in either underground, concrete (should be PVC coated or at least painted with
some kind of waterproofing agent like mastic or something similar), chemical applications (which should also be PVC coated
as well) and wherever it can or will be exposed to physical damage. It takes a beating sometimes.
Most conduit comes in sizes from 1/2″ up to 6″ Diameter.
There are many different applications for different types of conduit. I know I’m probably missing something on here but this
gives you some basic understanding on what we use and what we use it in or for.
This post I am writing is more for those who know nothing about my trade and have no clue on what we really do with this type
For those of my friends, Brothers or Sisters of my trade or anyone associated with the Electrical trade keep in mind this fact.
If ya’ll see anything I am missing on, just drop me a note. 😉
Like I said this is more for anyone wanting to know about what I love more than anything in my trade.
Bending the conduit
Yep, we bend it and it is an art form. It is not something you can pick up in just a few minutes. It takes practice.
We use all types of conduit benders that achieve all types of bends that we need. Some are:
- Hand Benders
- Table Benders
- Sidewinder Benders
- Hickey Benders
- Chicago benders
- Offset Benders (used for the novice or mass amounts of same type bends for speed) but to be super honest…MOST
Electricians will not use those as they may be ridiculed! and offset is the easiest bend of all! LOL
Most of the benders I have listed might be named something different but that is what I have come to know them as.
We’ll start with the most common of benders and that would be the hand bender.
There are so many rules to remember but the most important one to remember is to keep the bender head the same
direction though all of your bends except for a 3 point saddle (I personally hate those only because they are hard to pull
We have to do math with these and any bender we use on the job. Most is easy if you can add or multiply and have a bit of
common sense or a little imagination.
We have charts to show us what the math is but if you have been bending for a long time you tend to memorize these.
Here below is a chart we use:
I know it may be a little hard to read but for the most part this is a basic chart to get the idea. There are many many other
formula’s we use that would confuse most high school math teachers. LOL I joking of course but you get the idea. You have to
have some basic math skills to bend this stuff.
We use multipliers when bending conduit to achieve certain degrees of bends to make the bends parallel so they work right.
Let me give you an example: If I needed go from one elevation to the other say like 6″ what I do is this…
I will measure from either the end of another piece of conduit, electrical box or wherever I am coming from and make a mark (that
mark depends on how far back I need to be to give clearance to the first offset to get above the obstacle I am offsetting.
My second mark is like this: IF I need a let’s say a 30 degree offset bend I will use the multiplier for a 30 degree bend which is 2.0
so, I take my original 6″ and multiply that by 2.0 which equals 12. So from the first mark I measure over 12 inches and make my
These are the two points I will bend at.
On the hand bender it has all kinds of marks to achieve certain bends.
The one I need for this bend is an arrow mark. I align the first mark I made on the conduit with the arrow, place the conduit on the
floor and bend it till the handle of the bender is straight up and down (most benders this means a 30 degree bend) or if you need to
the benders have degree lines on the side that will let you know if you have the correct angle.
I then move the conduit in the bender to the second mark ( oh, I should say that most of the times we have to put the bender
handle towards the ground for this bend) line up the second mark on the arrow and bend the second bend till it lines up with
the 30 degree mark. All while trying to keep the bends in line with each other to prevent the conduit from becoming dog legged.
Some people use a level when bending conduit to find out if the offset bend is parallel to the ground when completing the second
Did I lose anyone on this? LOL! I almost lost myself trying to explain this. It is easier for me to do it other than to explain. Sort
of like trying to explain how to tie your shoes once you’ve done it a million times. Easy to do but difficult to write about.
Here is a picture of what our hand benders look like:
As you can see there are quite a few marks on it to achieve whatever type of bend radius you require.
Now I know this is a long and drawn out post and trust me, it’s not easy to explain but neither is bending this stuff unless you
are knowledgeable on it.
There is sooooo much I didn’t explain but will when I put my video in another post here about how to bend with a hand bender
but for now I will share a video I did while working at the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper Facility using a sidewinder bender.
Excuse the noise and everything else going on around me but I was dodging huge rolls of paper at the same time.
This video I did while attempting to bend an offest on a 2″ conduit in a Sidewinder Bender which was probably older than myself
all the while dodging stuff. Sorry for the noise and the other problems I was having but this also shows how it can get on a job.
It’s not easy.
Here is a video of the same bender but in a more controlled atmosphere…
yep, I did show this video in another post I have on my blog but it shows it in a much better way.
I have a ton of pictures I would love to show you of my conduit I have bent over the years and I will share some on my blog.
This weekend I am going to demonstrate on another video on how I bend EMT by using a hand bender. It should be a little easier
There is so much material on types of benders, what to bend with, how to bend each type of conduit and many other things
associated bending conduit that I would have to write a book to explain. For now, this is just the start of how I can think of
So, where is the art in bending conduit come into play?
Well, to all conduit bending there is what I like to refer to as art. It is just something that I like to call it.
When you see just one piece of conduit there all alone it is boring sort of but when you have a bunch all together THAT is when the
form of art begins to fall into place.
For many of us who have been doing it for some time now, it is just something we can do but for those that haven’t been doing
it there are charts for that too.
Here, let me share a few pictures of work I have done recently to show some of my “art work”
As you can see that there is a sort of art form to all this. It takes a ton of planning. It’s not just something you can throw down and
make it look nice.
There are rules and codes and job specifications we have to adhere to as well.
Here are a few other pictures I will share before I say until next time…
I can and will show in my video on how to bend conduit some of these exact conduit bends, they are not as hard to achieve
as you might think. All it takes is a little math and a good imagination.
Thanks for reading what I have so far, keep on the lookout for my how to video, should be interesting!