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When you’re wiring up your shop, you really “ought” to run your wires through conduit, but the really cool tools for bending conduit and pipe cost too much to be practical for a small shop. So, if you’re going to do the job like the fire marshall would prefer, you might want to look at a less expensive option — a hand bender. For about $30 it provides a correctly shaped form for bending the conduit without breaking or kinking it.

You can buy them with or without the big metal handle, since a threaded metal pipe will work fine. This version from Gardner Bender features markings for the most common bend angles and a bend-back channel for slip-ups.

We’ve mentioned before that the Gardner Bender site is a mite tetchy, so I included a direct link to the PDF catalog — you’ll have to jump to page 57.

PDF Catalog [Gardner Bender]
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8 Responses to Big Ben Conduit Hand Bender

  1. fred says:

    The commercial spaces for my business (plumbing and metal fabrication shops, woodworking shop and garage) are all wired using EMT or heavy-walled (pipe) conduit. Hickey type benders work well for the EMT – but I recall that the big pipe was bent with hydraulic benders.

    When I refurbished my home shop a few years back – I decided on a mixed approach.
    Where I had EMT fed outlets for my machinery (which I was not moving) I left it in place.
    For the new benches that I built and some of the new lighting, I decided to run surface-mounted metal raceway. I use the Wiremold brand – but there are probably other choices.


    What I liked about this approach were various heavy-duty outlet strips that were available.

  2. joelfinkle says:

    I’d initially scoffed at conduit and thought it difficult to use, but with a simpler bender than the one above (which was sitting in my father-in-law’s basement), we’ve had great results. Yeah, occasionally I over bend something and throw away a bit of tube, but frankly bending EMT and fishing wire is as easy as stripping that #@&! ROMEX, and certainly easier to fix when something needs replacing.

    Unfortunately, the previous owners of my house didn’t think the same way: There was ROMEX buried in the back yard to feed a small above-ground pool pump… we didn’t know why the kitchen circuit kept blowing until we saw steam coming out of the ground by a rose bush; and the lights hanging on the front of the house have cable embedded in the mortar of the stonework! I ripped out the first (the pool had long been removed), but I’m not messing with the other until I have to.

  3. Scott says:

    Using a hand bender to bend 1/2″ or 3/4″ EMT is a breeze….if you have patience and can do a bit of simple math. Professional electricians however prefer to use Ideal or Greenlee benders over GB. Personnaly I have an antique one for use at home, it is a Bendix bender, the grandaddy of hand benders.

  4. Scott says:

    Also I find romex to be easy to install if your framing members are still exposed. The only downfall is that it’s really ugly. Also conduit enables the addition, to a point, of extra circuits.

  5. mike says:

    in residential there is often no need to use EMT… only for very specific applications, teck cable is more versatile. Id say in 4 years ive maybe put 20′ of EMT in a house before and over 10 000′ in commercial and industrial jobs i do. And you must remember to follow code and not overfill “Pipe Fill ” and “Derating (dont include the Neutral)”

  6. Brau says:

    For those of you who are prone to making bending mistakes, remember to buy yourself a handful of couplers and have a hacksaw handy. If worst comes to worst you can always bend yourself some 90 degree elbows and connect your pipe like you would if using PVC.

  7. Richard says:

    What a super blog!

  8. Paul says:

    A GB bender is about 30 bucks, and a Klein or Ideal bender is about 45. If you do any professional electrical work you are much better off getting a Klein or Ideal bender.

    Ever GB bender I’ve seen on the worksite has a broken/bent handle, bends incorrectly (would bend a 8″ 90 instead of a 7″ 90) or creases the pipe.

    I don’t buy GB brand anything, they’re temptingly cheap, but don’t be fooled, you get what you pay for. As cheap as GB is, I think you actually get less than you pay for, some crappy tool that lasts 2 uses, when for a few extra dollars you can get a tool that will do the job right and last for years.

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