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There’s a problem with using superb tools. Afterward, every time you have to use something less than the best, it’s a little depressing knowing there’s something better out there. By that mantra, I’ll never be satisfied with another tubing bender after using a set of Swagelok’s tubing benders. They’re made from extremely high-quality steel, and create easy, beautiful bends thanks to bearings which roll along the tube as the bend progresses, forcing the tube into a precisely-cast base.

But — and this is an elephant in the room — the cost of these things puts them dangerously close to Tool Pr0n territory. Don’t bother trying to find them at Ace; Swagelok pulled a Snap-On and retails these only through its satellite distributors. The smallest bender, for 1/4″ OD tube, costs $125.20. The largest, for 1/2″ OD tube, costs $347.00. Ow. Definitely not worth it for anything shy of a plumbing specialist, which is a shame. It’s hard to find this level of quality. The design is simple, the materials are top-shelf, and the results are the best.

Tubing Benders [Swagelok]

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15 Responses to Bite My Shiny Metal Swagelok!

  1. fred says:

    Swagelok have always made good fittings and this tubing bender looks like it’s up to their standard.
    We do lots of tubing bending – in the shop, out of the back of the truck and in the field. At the high end in the shop we have a dedicated mandrel bending machine capable of bending nearly anything with the right set of dies mounted – and that includes stainless steel pipe. In our trucks – we have ratchet benders of the type shown here:

    http://www.stridetool.com/tools/hose_tubingtools/tubebenders_08.html

    We also use Imperial (used to be called Imperial-Eastman) hand benders with good results.
    For soft copper tubing – I’ve seen our HVAC sub – using Yellow-Jacket benders – but I can’t comment on their use.

  2. Fritz Gorbach says:

    Looks beautiful, same sort of design as my imperial bender, but that, one is for three sizes, and don’t have those sweet bearings. It was only 50 bucks though.
    I also have the yellowjacket ratcheting set. Several companies make the same style kit thathas various size dies and a ratchet press. at about $250, and i use it frequently for hvac and ref. work. I keep the imperial at home for brakes and gas lines and such, where it works well for the money.

    As Fred said, there are dozens of different sizes and styles for every bend and budget. We have quite a variety at work depending on the job

  3. David Bryan says:

    Thirty-some-odd years ago when I was starting to bend tubing everybody had maybe an Imperial set of 1/4″ benders and for bigger sizes those old Ridgid benders that came with both handles parallel to the tubing, and if you left them like that they were pretty much useless. You’d cut off the left handle and weld it back on at 90 degrees like an Imperial bender. For 1/2 inch .065 wall and up tubing you’d need pretty good handle extensions too. I’ve still got a couple of pairs of Ridgid benders I cut the handles off of, and welded sockets on in their place so I could use a regular ratchet with them. With that you didn’t have to start out your bends with the handles 90 degrees apart, and you could bend 180’s without crossing your handles.
    Those Swagelok benders there look an awful lot like Ridgid 500 series benders, which I see priced in a quick google search at $250, shipping included, and up.

  4. David Bryan says:

    That’s the price for the 1/2″” bender.

  5. Todd says:

    I use this bender on 3/8″ O.D. SS tubing every day, and it beats every other bender that I have tried. Swagelock makes a tubing cutter that is sweet also. (It has ball-bearing rollers and it cuts SS like butter.)

  6. rg says:

    What I don’t like about the Swagelok benders (besides the price), is the little toggle thing that holds down the tubing. I always found that fussy and awkward to deal with. Personally, I’ve got a set of Rigid 400 series for 1/2″ and 3/8″. They’ve also got the flippy toggle on them, but they seem to allow the tubing to rotate more freely when you’re lining up compound bends. (You do need to eat your Wheaties to make >90 deg bends, though.) The best for speed bending I’ve tried are classic Imperials, because they use a stationary hook. The new fancy-looking Imperials are terrible, but some guys love them.

    I think a lot of it comes down to what you’re used to and personal taste. Tube bending is as much art as it is science IMO.

    • Dirk Dunglar says:

      If you were a pro, you would be a true craftsman and care about the quality of you work. UA LOCAL 290

      • rg says:

        I’m a journeyman Industrial Instrument Mechanic in the Canadian oil and gas industry. I’ve done a LOT of stainless steel tubing installation over the years.

        So, yeah, I guess I’m pretty sure I’d qualify as a “pro”.

  7. Sytteg says:

    Indispensable for air tubing for petrochemical refineries. Since you can’t turn off a 6″ ball valve without a hefty and expensive electric actuator, made even more expensive by C1D2 or C1D1 ratings, you have to have air and a lot of it! I used these for for 1/2″ stainless tubing usually using Bi-Lok fittings to save on money over Swagelok for a variety of uses. The driving force for a pneumatic actuator, air purge for C1D1 sheet metal panels, line purge when Nitrogen isn’t available, and partial stroke valve test systems as required for marine loading terminals by the US Coast Guard.

  8. Walter Larder says:

    Swagelok tube benders are an instrument tech’s best friend when it comes to tube benders, while you can do good work with other brands, if you are doing work with heavy wall or larger diameter tubing (3/8th – 1/2″) SS tubing they save you alot of the grunting and strain that non-roller benders can cause.

  9. oscar says:

    I use em every day.1/2″mainly.I always need new handle grips &maybe a new decal. My 1/4 “areshabby .but does the job over n over. I make my $ with these tools,don’t touch em.insturmentolagist

  10. jimmyteal says:

    I paid 180$ for my 1/2″ benders. I still have my 1/4″ imperial/eastman from 1966 . The best ones made …u

  11. John says:

    I know this is an old review but where did you find pricing for the 1/4″ Swagelock bender for $125?

  12. ken hogg says:

    I’ve been bending since 96. Greenberry tank and iron ha swagelock come with a box o stuff and here come the con entric bends. We’ve modified benders to push min back to back bends, man don’t throw out any oold ones cause I guess a 1/2 with a 5″ radious is around 500. Still I won’t use anything but the best and if even gets scratched I’m putting it down for a new one. They earned me a few houses and my kids PHDs. (So they’ll never come home) .

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