How to bend pipe

Written by lacy enderson
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Bending pipe is easy if you know how. Pipe comes in different thicknesses, and techniques differ with the diameter of each pipe. With the many tools and methods available, bending pipe doesn't have to be complicated. Just follow a few simple steps and learn a few easy tricks and you'll be able to easily bend a pipe of any size.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Pipe
  • Sand
  • Heat
  • Vise Grip
  • Steel Top Table
  • Jig
  • Steel Pins

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  1. 1

    Cut partway through the pipe at intervals. Bend it, and then weld the cuts closed. It's a simple method, but because it is slow and usually produces a weak and ugly product, it is not the first choice in bending pipe.

  2. 2

    Pay a vendor to bend your pipe. They use machines that roll bend. Because the machines only bend one radius at a time, you will need to weld each piece together after it is bent.

  3. 3

    Bolt a 1/4-inch steel top table to the floor. You can use a plywood table top, but eventually it will get destroyed. The table is used when bending pipe between 1 and 2 inches. Anything thicker than 2 inches requires a different method.

  4. 4

    Bolt a jig to the table using steel pins. The pipe is bent over and around the jig. Because the pipe is also bent against the table, it is important to have a solid table top.

  5. 5

    Fill the pipe with baked or dried sand before bending it to prevent kinks on tight bends with steel pipe. Pack the sand tight and cap the ends. If you are planning to use heat to bend the pipe, drill some holes in the caps so the pipe does not explode.

  6. 6

    Cold-bend your pipe with a Greenlee electric conduit bender or a hydraulic pipe bender. These machines work well for pipe under 2 inches.

  7. 7

    Wrap a piece of pipe around another piece of pipe that is clamped down, 3 to 6 inches in diameter. If the pipe you are bending is thin enough, heat is not required.

  8. 8

    Use rosebud heat to ensure the heat is not concentrated on only one area. Keep heat ahead of the bend on the pipe. If using seamed pipe, make sure the seam is on the inside of the radius.

  9. 9

    Put one end of your pipe in a vice grip. Using muscle strength, start bending. This method only works with thinner pipe. And remember to pack the pipe with sand to prevent the pipe from creasing and collapsing.

Tips and warnings

  • When bending aluminium pipe, using heat, mark the pipe with a streak from a bar of laundry soap. As you heat the pipe the soap streak will turn chocolate brown. The change in colour means the pipe is hot enough. Move the flame to a different area on the pipe until the entire area of the pipe is heated. Let the pipe cool.
  • Metal work is dangerous. Metal pipes, when cut, are sharp. Sharp pipes can cut the skin if you are not careful.
  • The metal you are bending is a potentially dangerous spring that can fling back and hit you in the head. Be careful.

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