A Comprehensive Guide for Electricians on How to Bend EMT Conduit

Updated on September 28, 2017
wilderness profile image

Dan has been a licensed, journey-level electrician for some 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. | Source

A Conduit Bending Guide

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 | Source

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 permissable without a junction box. Many, many electricians will bend nothing but 90's 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.

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 ways 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.

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 electricians tool kit and can easily last a lifetime.

A Basic Bending Guide For The New Electrician

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 | Source

How To Bend A 90

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

Making Concentric Bends 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. | Source

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. | Source

How To Bend An Offset

Measuring for a rolling offset.
Measuring for a rolling offset. | Source

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. | Source

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.

© 2010 Dan Harmon


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    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 2 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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?

    • profile image

      Robbo74 2 months ago

      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

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 10 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      No, sorry. There is no book.

    • profile image

      Anthony 10 months ago

      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.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 12 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

    • profile image

      Brad 12 months ago

      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?



    • profile image

      Kyle 16 months ago

      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.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

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

    • profile image

      Russell 3 years ago

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

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

    • profile image

      Anthony 4 years ago

      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

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      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 (http://hubpages.com/hub/EMT-Electrical-Conduit-Pip... If that doesn't help, come back and describe just what you are trying to do.

    • profile image

      fox 4 years ago

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

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 5 years ago from South Alabama

      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..

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 5 years ago from Georgia

      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.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      @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.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev G 5 years ago from Wales, UK

      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!

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      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

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

    • profile image

      m3t00 6 years ago

      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?

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      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!

    • profile image

      Louis 7 years ago

      I got 96%... Thanks again!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

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

    • profile image

      louis 7 years ago

      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!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      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.

    • profile image

      electrician 7 years ago

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

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      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 profile image

      SteveoMc 7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

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

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 7 years ago

      Very interesting and helpful.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

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

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida

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

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

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

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

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


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