How to Bend a 3 or 4 Point Saddle in an EMT Conduit

Updated on October 24, 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.

3 and 4 Point Saddles

This section of the conduit bending guide will address bending both 3 point and 4 point saddles in emt conduit (they can also be bent in either IMT or rigid conduit as well using the same procedures).

These are the two common saddle bends made in electrical conduit by electricians, used to temporarily raise the run of conduit above a small obstacle, such as another conduit running across the path of the conduit to be saddled.

While saddles, and in particular 3 point saddles, are the bane of many otherwise excellent electricians, there is no need for this to be. Even the dreaded 3 point saddle is quite easy to bend, and bend in a manner consistent with quality workmanship.

Each type of saddle is bent differently and usually used for different purposes. Lets start with a 4 point saddle as it is easy to understand and is used by novices without even recognizing they are doing it.

If interested, you will find other links to other sections of the complete conduit bending guide at the bottom of this article.

Bending A Four Point Saddle

It its simplest form, a 4 point saddle is nothing more nor less than two offset bends a short distance apart. Normally used to cross larger obstructions than the 3 point saddle, they have a definite place on the job site.

For saddles greater than about 3", a 4 point saddle is probably the way to go. Begin by measuring the distance to the obstruction and marking that distance on the conduit. For example, if that measurement is 40", make a mark 40" from the end of the conduit. Measure the height of the obstruction; it is common to add perhaps ½" to this measurement to make sure the saddle will easily clear. Decide what angle you wish to make your offsets, and, using the appropriate multiplier, determine the length of the offset. To continue our example, if the height is 5" and you will be bending on 22° the length of each offset will be 5 X 2.6, or 13". If you are not familiar with bending offset bends, this might be a good time to review "How to bend an offset" section of the complete conduit bending guide (the link will open in a new window, leaving this window intact). You should always use the gentlest bend you can as it will make pulling wire much simpler and may save adding a junction box simply because you have crossed the legal limit of 360° of total bend between boxes. For instance, using 30º bends means a four point saddle will use 120º total, leaving only 240º of the legal 360º, while using 22º bends will leave just over 270º, or a full three 90's.

Measure back from the first mark on the conduit towards the beginning of the pipe the length of the offset and make a second mark. To continue our example, you will now have a mark at 40" and one at 27" (13" back from the first mark).

Measure the length of the obstruction and once more mark the conduit that distance past the first mark. If the obstruction is 10" wide, you will now have marks at 50", 40" and 27". Normally, the second offset is bent at the same angle as the first (although that is not necessary) as it will look better; mark that distance. Your final mark will thus be at 50" + 13", or 63". You should now have marked the conduit at 27", 40", 50" and 63" for our example.

A word on shrinkage. The total length of the conduit will "shrink" as it is bent; this is because some of the length is going up instead of straight. It is possible to calculate the shrinkage and the calculation is shown in the section on "The math behind bending conduit" but there are several variables that affect the shrinkage and it is not a simple calculation. In practice if appearance is very important as in exposed work most electricians will increase all the measurements by a few inches and cut the conduit after test fitting it. In this manner the saddle can be centered exactly over the obstruction, but this is seldom necessary except for exposed work.

4 Point saddle bends

This conduit needs rotated before making the second bend.  As is, it will produce a nasty dogleg.
This conduit needs rotated before making the second bend. As is, it will produce a nasty dogleg. | Source
Properly oriented, this offset will not dogleg.
Properly oriented, this offset will not dogleg. | Source
A 4 point saddle.  The bends are all just outside the marks as a result of using the toe of the bender.
A 4 point saddle. The bends are all just outside the marks as a result of using the toe of the bender. | Source
Closeup; notice the saddle is just higher than the obstruction.
Closeup; notice the saddle is just higher than the obstruction. | Source

Begin bending by fitting the conduit into the bender with the very toe of the bender lined up at the 40" mark (in our example) and pointed toward the 50" mark. Bend the conduit to the desired angle, 22° in our case. Slide the conduit down until the 27" mark is in the same place, right at the toe of the bender, rotate the conduit 180° so that the bend will be in the opposite direction, and make the second bend. By using the very end of the bender to line the marks on the saddle will be just a few inches wider than the obstruction, guaranteeing it will fit. It is possible to use the more common marks such as that used for bending a 90, but the complete saddle will be exactly the right size and conduit shrinkage will prevent it from fitting properly.

Turn the conduit around and make the third bend with the 50" mark at the very toe of the bender and the toe pointed toward the 40" mark. Bend the conduit in the same direction as the very first bend. Take great care to make sure the bends are all in a straight line; sight down the conduit very carefully before bending and rotate the conduit until all the bends line up exactly. It is very easy to "dogleg" the bends, meaning that the completed saddle will not lie flat on the floor if laid down sideways and it is difficult to remove that dogleg.

Slide the conduit forward to the 63" mark and, after rotating the conduit 180° once more, make the final bend. The saddle is complete; the run of conduit may now cross the obstruction without difficulty.

One of the advantages of a 4 point saddle is that it can be broken in the center, using 2 pieces of conduit to make the complete saddle. Each piece gets 1 ordinary offset, but the total package is still a saddle.

Bending A Three Point Saddle

While many electricians will bend a 3 point saddle with a center bend of 45° a better solution is to make that center bend at only 22° as the total degrees of bend required goes from 90° down to only 45°. To do this you will need to mark the bender at the center of a 22° bend. Using a piece of scrap conduit, make a 22° bend, remove it from the bender and lay it on a table or floor. Find the center of the bend and mark it - eyeball visualization will do fine. Insert the conduit back into the bender at the same location it was and transfer that mark to the bender. A more permanent mark can be made by filing a notch in the edges of the bender, just as is done at the factory for the center of a 45° bend on some benders.

Start the 3 point saddle by once more measuring the distance to the obstruction and the height of that obstruction. It is uncommon to make 3 point saddles more than 2 or 3"; for an example we will assume it is 40 inches to the center of the obstruction and that the saddle needs to be 2" high, as if crossing a large conduit.

Mark the conduit at the distance to the obstruction, plus ¼" for each 1" of height. In our example, the mark will be at 40 ½ inches. The extra ½" is to take care of the shrinkage for a 2" tall saddle.

Next, mark the conduit each way from the first mark: 4" for the first inch of height and 6" for each additional inch. In the example, it will now have 3 marks, at 30 ½, 40 ½ and 50 ½ inches (we need 2" of height, requiring marks at 4" + 6", or 10" each way from the first mark). If our obstruction was 3" high we would measure 16" each way from the first mark.

Center the first, center, mark on the custom marked 22° center and make a 22° bend. Slide the conduit forward until the second mark is at the arrow used to bend a 90, rotate the conduit 180° and make a second bend the opposite direction of the first at just over 10°.

Now comes the tricky part that many electricians don't realize. Remove the conduit from the bender, flip it end for end and reinsert it into the bender. Line up the third mark with the same arrow used for the second bend and, bending opposite the first bend once more, make another bend just over 10°.

To recap: the first bend is made with the conduit mark at the customized "center of 22°" mark you made on the bender. Each of the other bends are made with the conduit mark at the normal arrow used for making a 90° bend with the toe of the bender pointed towards the center mark. Conduit marks are made at the center of the obstruction plus ¼" for each inch of height plus a mark each direction from that first mark at 4" for the first inch of height and 6" for each additional inch.

If a saddle of more than 3 or 4 inches is to be made you are probably better off to either use a 4 point saddle or use 45° for the center bend; if the sharper bend is used the saddle usually needs to be considerably taller than the obstruction and the second and third marks are made at 1" for the first inch of height plus 2.6 inches (the multiplier for 22° offsets) for each additional inch. In addition, the second and third bends are made at 22° rather than 10°.

The video shown below demonstrates the method of making a 3 point saddle, although the bends are made far too sharp. This saddle has used 120° of bend already, out of the 360° the NEC allows between pull boxes. Nevertheless it does show the proper method of making the bends and has been included for that reason.

Additional information is available in a "comprehensive guide to conduit bending"; this link will open a new window to the title page with a brief description of each section and links to each.

Bending a 3 Point Saddle in Conduit

Lining up for the first bend.
Lining up for the first bend. | Source
Making the second bend
Making the second bend | Source
Making the third bend.
Making the third bend. | Source
Completed 3 point saddle, showing one possible use.
Completed 3 point saddle, showing one possible use. | Source

Bending a 3 point saddle

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

  • A saddle to cross a pipe requires how many bends?

    Unless it's a large pipe, say perhaps 3 or 4 inches, a 3 bend saddle will do fine. If it's a large obstruction in the way a 4 bend saddle will likely do better.

© 2011 Dan Harmon


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      16 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      I suppose you could. It would take some careful measurement changes so that the bends are all in the same place relative to the center of the saddle. That will change, of course, depending on how the pipe is inserted into the bender as well as the size of pipe being used.

    • profile image

      Don Thomson 

      16 months ago

      I have heard of a trick for bending a 4pt saddle all in one direction, (meaning by not having to turn the bender) is this possible and if so how do I do it?

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      17 months ago from Boise, Idaho

      Thanks, it has been corrected.

    • profile image

      Misspelled word 

      17 months ago

      In the sentence above "It its simplest form, a 4 point saddle is nothing more nor less that two offset bends a short distance apart." I believe that you meant to use the word "than", rather than "that"... :-) See? I read carefully!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I like the information on using the 22-degree center 3-point saddle. I haven't found anyone else explain how to systematically approach this bend, and they don't seem to give it in any reference tables. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    • profile image

      paul Ingles 

      4 years ago

      I found the tips helpful

    • wilderness profile imageAUTHOR

      Dan Harmon 

      8 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Yes, I've definitely been there and done that just a few times.

      Thank you for the comment and compliment. I'm glad you found it easy to follow.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Information from someone who has been there and done that!

      Easy to read and understand.

      Flag up!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)