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A Comprehensive Guide for Electricians on How to Bend EMT Conduit

Dan has been a licensed journey-level electrician for 17 years. He has extensive experience in most areas of the electrical trade.

Learning how to bend conduit isn't difficult, and a little practice can produce nearly any bend needed.

Learning how to bend conduit isn't difficult, and a little practice can produce nearly any bend needed.

EMT Pipe Bending Tricks and Tips

Bending conduit is an integral part of an electrician's work, and this set of articles is designed to help electricians, whether a beginning apprentice or an experienced journeyman, learn how to bend conduit.

The article you are reading is intended primarily as an "index" to the other pages that actually comprise the instructions and methods of a conduit bending guide.

Links are provided further down to each type of bend, one to a discussion of the math behind bending EMT, and a couple of other links to tools that might interest the professional electrician.

By clicking on a particular link you will be taken to the page indicated for that conduit bend—please use your "back" button to return back to this index page.

This guide is a work in progress; while offsets and saddles are discussed on the page written for the beginning apprentice, future pages are intended for a more in-depth look at these bends. If you don't find what you are looking for, please leave a note and I will try to accommodate you with future pages.

Common hand bender used by electricians

Common hand bender used by electricians

General Considerations for Bending EMT Conduit

One of the biggest problems I see with electricians bending conduit is that they forget or ignore the constraints placed on the number of degrees permissible without a junction box. Many electricians will bend nothing but 90s and 30º angles, resulting in either a very difficult wire pull or unnecessary use of junction boxes.

Remember, each junction box requires at the minimum a box, a cover plate, two conduit connectors and a few screws. There is likely to be wire splices used in the box, meaning more time, some wire nuts and perhaps a problem down the road troubleshooting bad makeup.

Gentler Bends Are Better

Always consider the minimum number of degrees necessary to accomplish what needs to be done. If an offset can be made with 10º bends (in a reasonable manner) instead of the typical 30º bends use the smaller bend. Going from a 30º to 10º offset will save 40º each time.

Two such offsets in a conduit run (not uncommon) saves nearly a 90º bend and perhaps a junction box. If you are pulling the wire, you will appreciate the savings, and so will anyone else.

Beyond this, though, there are places where junction boxes cannot be used. Above a hard lid, for instance—using large bends can cause real trouble when you suddenly need to set a box above a bathroom ceiling or other hard lid.

A little pre-planning can go a long way here. Or perhaps in the middle of a long conduit run of an exposed rack of pipe where there simply isn't room to set a box on each pipe in the rack.

Interpreting the Layout in 3 Dimensions

Anyone learning how to bend conduit will need to learn to think in three dimensions. Conduit runs do not always travel in a straight line; they can go up or down, right or left or anything in between.

Learning to conceptualize the results of possible bends is not always easy, but with practice and time, it will become almost second nature. Work on it - it will help minimize the degrees of bend needed.

A final note; please consider purchasing your own hand benders. Each bender is slightly different, with a little different feel and used just a little differently. While any bender can be used, once the skill is learned, you will do better with your own bender.

In addition, your own bender can be personalized; the page on bending saddles describes how to permanently mark your own bender for the center of a 22º bend for instance. Benders are a relatively inexpensive part of the electrician's tool kit and can easily last a lifetime.

Beginning with the basics; where to mark the pipe and set the bender

Beginning with the basics; where to mark the pipe and set the bender

Beginner's Guide to Bending Conduit

Even a 90 isn't always as easy as it seems.

Even a 90 isn't always as easy as it seems.

How to Bend a 90˚ in Conduit

When appearance counts, concentric bends may be the only way to go.

When appearance counts, concentric bends may be the only way to go.

Making Concentric Bends In Conduit

The Math Behind Bending Conduit

The geometry of a triangle is used in most calculations.

The geometry of a triangle is used in most calculations.

How To Bend An Offset

Measuring for a rolling offset.

Measuring for a rolling offset.

  • A Conduit Bending Guide On How To Bend An Offset
    One of the more common bends made in electrical conduit is the offset bend - this page of the comprehesive conduit bending guide describes how to bend an offset. Necessary charts and tables for multipliers and decimal to fractions are included

Bending Conduit Saddles

Saddles are often the bane of an electricians life, but are not that hard to learn.

Saddles are often the bane of an electricians life, but are not that hard to learn.

A conduit bending-guide-on-how-to-bend-a-saddle-in-emt-conduit

Bending a proper saddle in EMT is often one of the most difficult electricians will face, but there is no need for that to be. Saddles are not difficult; even the dreaded 3 point saddle is easy to make with just a couple of simple tips and some experience.

Hand Benders

Every electrician should have their own set of hand benders, to include at a minimum a bender for ½" EMT, one for ¾" EMT (the ¾" will also bend ½" rigid pipe). If possible, a bender for 1" EMT (will bend ¾" rigid as well) is also recommended even though many shops will provide this. An aluminum head is preferred for weight reasons; a long day in the field with an iron head bender can be exhausting.

This author prefers the Greenlee brand, at least in part because they come stamped with the deduct and multipliers that are commonly used. For a beginning electrician this can be invaluable and aids in memorizing those numbers.

The links below are from Amazon and can serve as a starting place to find and purchase your own benders. If a different brand is preferred, Amazon also carries Klein and Ideal benders.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: What is the trick to take bend out of the conduit?

Answer: It is next to impossible to remove any but the smallest amount of bend from a conduit. A few degrees - maybe 5 if you're lucky - is all that can be managed in most cases.

Question: Is an offset considered one bend from point A to point B?

Answer: I guess that would depend on who is talking and what they are trying to say. Most electricians would consider the total length to be one bend, say at 30 degrees. A 4" offset at 30 degrees, for instance. An inspector will see two bends, each at 30 degrees - he will care only how many degrees of bend is present, not where it goes or how much the line has moved.

Question: A 1" EMT bender can be used to bend 3/4" Rigid. Do all of the deducts and multipliers that apply to the 1" EMT apply to the 3/4" Rigid?

Answer: Yes. Treat the rigid bends just as if they were on 1" EMT. Deducts and multipliers are functions of mathematics and the bender, not the type of pipe being used.

Question: How do you bend a circle for an emt conduit?

Answer: Although a conduit bent into a circle is pretty useless for electrical work it can be done. Just keep shifting the bender around the bend and make some more bend.

© 2010 Dan Harmon


Michael Tsosie on October 05, 2019:

Need to take a class in bending EMT....for sure,a little rusty..

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on March 25, 2018:

I won't be of much help, I'm afraid, but can say that the calculations for bending an offset remain the same regardless of the pipe size or bender. They are a function of the trigonometry used and it doesn't matter what size of conduit or the radius of the bender.

But the same cannot be said for deducts for a 90 - these come from the radius of the bend, which is built into each bender and varies with conduit size. If they aren't given in bender instructions you will have to find them through trial and error.

A good level or a protractor can be used to bend the proper angle although it will be much more cumbersome than having the bender marked. Perhaps you could use one to bend, say, a 30 degree angle and then mark the bender with a file or something similar?

Robbo74 on March 25, 2018:

Can I help me I have a hand bender the ones you buy in Australia have no makes on them of where to bend we generally work with 16mm 20mm and 25mm conduit

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 05, 2017:

No, sorry. There is no book.

Anthony on August 04, 2017:

Do you have a book with all this info? Or is it only online at this point in time? Cause I'd buy your book! I think that would be a real cool idea if it's not already done. Would be pretty convenient as well, for me anyway.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on June 03, 2017:

Please, feel free to print it off for your own use. It is copyrighted information, and not available to re-publish or to distribute, but if you find it useful in the field, I would feel honored.

Brad on June 03, 2017:

Hello Mr. Harmon,

I'm beginning to learn conduit bending and struggling. My experience consists of a hour in a college lab. I bent a 90, a offset and a 3 point saddle once. Thank you for taking the time to share this information and hard earned experience with us. Is it alright with you if I print some of this to have with me in the field?



Kyle on February 01, 2017:

Your conduit bending guides are great! As an apprentice they are always handy to have as a reference. Thank-you and nice job, definitely the best I've found.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 12, 2014:

I'm sorry, Russell - the only publication is right here. No paper copies.

Russell on October 11, 2014:

Being an electrician myself I'm glad to see this !! The hubs you use here are available to buy in paper ??

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on March 20, 2014:

Anthony, I'm not sure what you are asking for, but this is not a school. I am a long time electrician, simply giving instructional articles and trying to pass along what I have learned in my career. If you will study the articles here on how to bend pipe, and with some practice, you should be able to learn to make a decent bend yourself.

Anthony on March 20, 2014:

i am an elcetrican for about five years now.but my problem has always been on how to bend pipes,so am asking if i can get or even buy it from your school.please i realy need it and you can call me up on this number 23407039833251

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on November 18, 2013:

Not sure what you mean by a multiplier for a kick - I have not heard the term used in that manner.

Suggest you look over the article on using math in bending conduit ( If that doesn't help, come back and describe just what you are trying to do.

fox on November 18, 2013:

could someone help me remember the multiplier for kicking a 90 on 2" EMT?

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 17, 2012:

Yes, it takes time and it takes practice. It can be done, however with some of each and with proper knowledge and training there is no reason to install sloppy work even right from the start.

Oscar Jones from Monroeville, Alabama on December 17, 2012:

I wish I had seen your examples a few years ago, as I have served as a maintenance technician and installer.. I have done some fancy copper ( older technology ) layout and installation, both residential and commercial.. but my electrical bends have been only slowly improved through practice..

Whitney from Georgia on November 28, 2012:

My boyfriend is an electrician. I'd say this hub and its offshoot hubs are things that electricians should learn before becoming an electrician. These are great tips for do-it-yourselfers though.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 24, 2012:

@GoodLady, the raggededge - Thank you. Yes, the bulk of information is in the linked hubs. There just isn't room in one hub to cover the subject in any but the most minor detail.

And always glad to help, raggededge; just let me know what your problems are.

Bev G from Wales, UK on September 24, 2012:

Like GoodLady, bending conduit is not something I am familiar with but you have a brilliant niche of electrical tutorials, Wilderness. If I have any electrical problems, I will be coming straight to you!

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on September 24, 2012:

Fortunately bending conduits hasn't been asked of me yet but your Hub offers exhaustive information and suggestions and links and I'm sure if I did follow your instructions I'd become as good as you. Well written guide and many thanks for the useful links to all the other information that will be helpful

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on May 04, 2012:

I'm having a little trouble with your terminology (not unusual, many terms are only used locally). Mostly, I'm not sure what you mean by "developed length".

It sounds like you are trying to use, or develop, a "deduct" for making concentric bends just like we all use for hand benders? It's certainly possible, but a few things will have to be considered. First, most people measure the radius from the inside of the curve, yet the stub length will include one outside pipe diameter in addition to the radius. Are your stubs all a little long?

In addition, you will need measurements from the very start of the actual bend and most large benders have a fitting outside the bending shoe to hold the pipe but provides no actual bend.

Measuring for a stub length for 3" pipe on a 24" radius would be the desired stub length - 24" -3". If you want that pipe outside of another already installed pipe and the total length of stub (to the outside of the bend, just as done for small pipe) is to be 40" the bend must start at 40 - 3 - 24 = 17" for a 24" radius bend.

Bear in mind that a 3" pipe isn't actually 3" outside diameter and that the front of the piece holding the pipe on the bender isn't the start of the bend. Both of these will have to be considered to get a really accurate stub length.

m3t00 on May 04, 2012:

i have been making concentric bends, but am having trouble getting the right stub length for the next pipe. i take the stub length minus radius plus Developed Length. they don't come out right. do you have any suggestions?

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 23, 2010:

Hey, that's great! I assume you're on the road to becoming a journeyman electrician - with that kind of work and results you'll make it for sure. Way to go!

Louis on December 22, 2010:

I got 96%... Thanks again!

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on December 22, 2010:

Glad to be of some help, Louis, and I hope you ace your test!

louis on December 21, 2010:

I have an exam tomorrow on pipe bending and I left my books in my locker but it was a blessing in disguise. This site is showing me way more than my teacher is(or has time to). Thanks!

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 17, 2010:

I'm glad you found it useful. I have found that the biggest problem to learning to bend conduit is learning to think in three dimensions instead of two. The math calculations, the actual bending action; these are not difficult. Visualizing the possibilities or the finished product is much harder to learn.

electrician on October 16, 2010:

Really helpful, I never learned to do conduit do i just avoid it. Thanks.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on October 01, 2010:

Steve, it will be interesting. It can be so difficult to find good information on the net, maybe this kind of hub will help someone.

The eternal plea of all apprentices - "I want to bend conduit!" It actually can be fun, and can be a real challenge as well.

SteveoMc from Pacific NorthWest on October 01, 2010:

I think it is a great idea....want to hear the outcome, and bend some conduit.

DREAM ON on September 30, 2010:

Very interesting and helpful.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 30, 2010:

Thanks for the critique - I'm trying to help people navigate the maze of the net a little easier.

Anna Marie Bowman from Florida on September 30, 2010:

Looks good to me! You didn't just list the hubs, but provided some info to guide people on where to go. Great job!!!

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on September 30, 2010:

It's a deal! You pick up the travel expenses and I'll be there will bells on. :)

De Greek from UK on September 30, 2010:

Nahhh... when I build my house you just have to come over and do all this stuff for me :-))