Brendan Lamothe

Key Takeaways

  • Introduction to basic conduit bending techniques and tools
  • Importance of proper measurements and accurate bender markings
  • Practical tips for achieving precise and clean bends

Understanding the Bender and Its Markings

The bender has several important markings that you'll need to be familiar with. These markings are essential for ensuring accurate bends in your conduit.

Size Conduit Indicator: The bender will specify the size of the conduit it is designed for. For example, it may state "half-inch EMT only," which means it's suitable for half-inch electrical metallic tubing but not for half-inch rigid conduit. Using the wrong size can kink your pipe.

Stub Take-Off Mark: This indicates how much pipe length is needed for a 90-degree bend. For example, a half-inch bender might require 5 inches, while a three-quarter-inch bender might need 6 inches.

Arrow Marking: Used for setting your measurements when making any offset or 90-degree bends. Always line up this arrow with your measurement marks.

Star Marking: Located at the center of the bender, this is for making backward 90-degree bends. Unlike a forward 90 where you need a take-off, you can simply mark the pipe, align it with the star, and bend.

Angle Indicators: You'll find ticks at various angles such as 10, 22.5, 30, 45, and 60 degrees. These are used for making specific angle bends. For a 30-degree offset, line your bender up with the 30-degree mark.

Center Point for Saddle Bends: Sometimes hard to see, this marking often looks like a half-circle and indicates where to position your conduit for a saddle bend.

These markings ensure you can make precise bends, which is crucial for fitting your conduit correctly around obstacles and within structures. By understanding and correctly using these markings, you'll achieve professional and accurate conduit bends every time.

Bending Techniques

Understanding the Bender

Before bending any conduit, familiarize yourself with the marks on the bender. These marks guide you on the different types of bends and the corresponding angles. Here's a summary of the key features:

  • Conduit Size: Specifies the size (e.g., half-inch EMT).
  • Arrow: Indicates the starting point for bends.
  • Star: Marks the center for reverse bends.
  • Angle Markings: Typically labeled 10, 22.5, 30, 45, and 60 degrees.

Stub 90

A Stub 90 is useful for scenarios where you need to bend the conduit to clear a surface or rise above a ceiling. Follow these steps for an effective bend:

  1. Place the Pipe: Insert the half-inch pipe into the bender.
  2. Align Properly: Ensure the pipe end aligns with the shoe's end for maximum bend.
  3. Pressure Application: Use a flat surface and push down with your foot while bending.
  4. Check with a Level: Ensure the bend is as straight as possible. Correct minor errors using the handle.

Forward 90

For specific measurements, use the Forward 90 bending technique. If you need a 90-degree bend at a precise distance (e.g., 36 inches), follow these steps:

  1. Measure and Mark: Determine the distance and subtract five inches (e.g., 36 - 5 = 31 inches).
  2. Set the Bender: Align the bender's arrow with the marked line.
  3. Perform the Bend: Press down with your foot and pull the pipe simultaneously.
  4. Verify Accuracy: Use a level and tape measure to ensure the bend meets the required length.

Important Tips

  • Always keep a firm foot pressure straight down to avoid bending mistakes.
  • For larger conduits, ensure more force is applied while maintaining control.
  • Properly use the bender’s features to make corrections without kinking the pipe.

Conduit Bending Basics

Stub 90 Bend

To make a stub 90 bend, you need to place your half-inch bender inside the shoe and align the end of the pipe with the end of the bender. This ensures you get the maximum amount of bend. It's essential to use a flat surface to maintain accuracy. When you bend the pipe, apply pressure straight down with your foot to get the correct radius and ensure the conduit lays properly in the shoe.

Keep in mind the following steps:

  1. Align the pipe and bender on a flat surface.
  2. Place your foot on the bender, pushing down while pulling the pipe.
  3. Use a level to check the accuracy of your bend.
  4. Correct minor misalignments by using the hollow handle of the bender.

Forward 90 Bend

For a forward 90 bend, start by measuring the distance you need, for example, 36 inches. Subtract the take-off distance specified on your bender (usually 5 inches for a half-inch bender). Mark this new length on your conduit. Align the arrow on the bender with the mark, and proceed with the bend.

Steps to follow:

  1. Measure the required distance and mark the pipe.
  2. Subtract the take-off distance according to your bender's specification.
  3. Align the arrow on the bender with your mark.
  4. Apply downward pressure with your foot and pull the pipe simultaneously.
  5. Confirm the accuracy of your bend using a level.

By following these steps, you will achieve precise and efficient conduit bends.

Conduit Sizes and Bender Types

Working with Half-Inch Pipe

When working with half-inch pipe, you'll primarily use a half-inch EMT bender. This tool is specific for bending half-inch electrical metallic tubing (EMT) and not for rigid conduits. It's crucial to recognize and utilize the marks on the bender, which include indicators for angles like 10°, 22½°, 30°, 45°, and 60°. These mark various bends you might need, such as 90s, offsets, and box offsets.

Steps for Bending Half-Inch Pipe

  1. Align the Pipe: Place your half-inch EMT pipe into the bender shoe.
  2. Bender Marks: Use the arrow for any offset bends and the star for reversing or backward 90 bends.
  3. Apply Pressure: Always ensure you're bending on a flat surface. Apply pressure with your foot, pushing straight down to achieve the correct radius and prevent kinking.
  4. Check for Level: Use a level to ensure your bends are precise. Minor adjustments can be made using the hollow handle of the bender.

Bending Larger Conduits

For conduits larger than half-inch, such as three-quarter inch or one inch, different benders are required. Each bender has specific marks indicating the take-off for 90-degree bends: six inches for three-quarter inch and eight inches for one-inch.

Steps for Bending Larger Conduits

  1. Selecting the Right Bender: Always match the bender size with your conduit to avoid kinking.
  2. Measurements: For forward 90 bends, measure the required distance and then subtract the appropriate take-off (six inches for ¾", eight inches for 1").
  3. Set the Bender: Align the pipe and place the bender's arrow on the measured mark.
  4. Bending Technique: Apply pressure similarly to smaller conduits but recognize that larger conduits require more force. Ensure your foot is firmly pressing down while pulling the pipe to achieve the bend.

Effective bending is essential for proper installation, ensuring conduits are aligned and securely placed.

Pipe Bending Practical Tips

When working with pipe bending, it's essential to understand the bender and its various marks. Each mark on the bender has a specific purpose and knowing them helps avoid mistakes. For example, the half-inch EMT bender is designed only for half-inch EMT pipes and not rigid pipes or other sizes.

Key Bender Marks

  1. Arrow: Used for aligning offsets and 90-degree bends.
  2. Star: Indicates the center point for backward bends.
  3. Degree Ticks: Markings at 10°, 22.5°, 30°, 45°, and 60° for various angles.
  4. Stub: Indicates the length taken up by a 90-degree bend (e.g., 5 inches for a half-inch bender).

Proper Bending Techniques

Flat Surface: Always ensure you're bending on a flat surface to avoid uneven bends.

Foot Pressure: Apply downward pressure with your foot on the foot pedal while pulling the handle towards you. This ensures a smooth bend and prevents kinking.

Stub 90: For making a 90-degree bend at the end of a pipe:

  • Place the pipe in the bender.
  • Align the end of the pipe with the end of the bender.
  • Apply consistent pressure to achieve a clean bend.

Forward 90: For a specific distance, like 36 inches:

  • Measure the distance and mark the pipe.
  • Subtract 5 inches (or the stub length marked on your bender).
  • Align the pipe with the arrow on the bender and bend.

Adjustments and Corrections

For minor corrections, use the handle attached to the bender to tweak the pipe. Insert the handle over the pipe and adjust slightly to straighten any crooked bends. This tool is ideal for small fixes but not for major adjustments to avoid kinking.

Safety and Consistency

Ensure your foot remains steady on the pedal during the entire bending process. This guarantees the right bend radius and maintains the pipe's shape. Always check your bends with a level to ensure accuracy and make minor corrections as needed.

By following these tips, you'll achieve more accurate and efficient results in your pipe bending projects.

Common Bending Measurements

Understanding the basic marks and measurements on a conduit bender is crucial for making accurate bends. There are a few key bending types and the related measurements you're likely to use frequently.

Stub 90

A Stub 90 is a bend at the very end of the conduit. You don't need to take any measurements for it. Just line the end of the pipe with the end of the bender to get the maximum amount of bend. Ensure you're bending on a flat surface and apply consistent pressure with your foot straight down.

  • Tip: Always check your bend with a level to ensure it's straight. If it's off slightly, use a handle to correct it.

Forward 90

A Forward 90 bend is where you'll measure from the end of the pipe to your desired point and then subtract the take-off value indicated on your bender. For instance, if you need a 90-degree bend at 36 inches with a take-off of 5 inches, mark at 31 inches.

  • Always bend towards yourself when you make this measurement.


Offsets allow the conduit to bend up and back to run parallel to an obstacle. The angles commonly used are 10, 22.5, 30, 45, and 60 degrees.




Small clearance adjustments


Slight, noticeable elevation


Common for moderate clearances


Significant elevation change


Steep elevation adjustments

Backwards 90

For a Backwards 90, you'll align the star mark on the bender with your measurement point and bend back from there. This kind of bend needs precise lining to ensure the measurement ends up perfect. No extra take-off calculation is required.

Keep these bending types and measurements in mind, and you'll have a solid foundation for accurate conduit installation.

Using the Bender to Correct Bends

When you need to adjust bends, it's essential to use the bender correctly. Begin by identifying the marks on the bender, which indicate various angles and measurement points. Align your pipe precisely with these marks to ensure accurate bends.

Tips for Correcting Bends:

  • Soft Adjustments: To fix minor misalignments, slide the handle of the bender over your pipe. Apply gentle pressure in small increments to avoid kinking.
  • Foot Pressure: Push straight down with your foot when bending. This helps maintain the proper bend radius.
  • Leveling: Use a level to check the accuracy of your bends. If adjustments are needed, make small corrections as described.

Important Points to Remember

  • Flat Surface: Ensure you're bending on a level surface to prevent uneven bends.
  • Proper Alignment: Always align the pipe inside the shoe of the bender according to the necessary marks.
  • Stub 90: This bend doesn't require complex measurements, just align and bend.
  • Forward 90: Measure your desired length, subtract the takeoff (five inches for a half-inch bender), place the mark at the arrow, and bend.

Adhering to these practices will help you achieve precise bends and maintain the structural integrity of your conduit.