Conduit has evolved from the use of existing gas pipes in the early days of electricity to a variety of types for use in modern buildings. Materials used for conduit include PVC, and routing this through a structure may require bending of the pipe. Using the correct tools for the job will ensure the accurate formation of bends.
Tools that use only manual power to bend PVC conduit include shoe and hickey style benders. The shoe style comprises a curved metal tool attached to a long handle, with the pipe rolled between tool and floor to create a bend. The shoe has markings and scales etched onto it, which help correctly position the PVC pipe to produce an accurate bend. This style can also have the name, one-shot bender. For tight radius bends, a metal hickey tool can produce a more accurate bend. Both styles come in sizes to suit the common diameters of PVC conduit.
Pipe Viper Tools
A pipe viper-style tool comprises a steel spring, which fits inside a PVC conduit at the bend location to help with manual bending. The spring comes in various diameters to suit the size of the pipe and enables bending by hand or using a tool. Advantages of using the pipe viper include that it stops kinking and collapsing of the bend to maintain the integrity of the pipe. The inner diameter also remains unchanged following bending.
Heat Bending Tools
PVC conduit becomes pliable when warmed and heating tools make the pipe easier to bend manually. Examples of this type of tool include heat boxes, which comprise a long metal box fitted with a heater. Placing the pipe inside this at the bend location allows it to soften enough to more easily make a bend. Other styles include heat blankets and heat guns. These can help bend pipe before installation, but also have the advantage that they can work on pipe already installed.
Mechanical Bending Tools
Mechanical benders provide a convenient method of working with a bending shoe using manual power. In this style, the shoe comes mounted on a two-wheeled frame, making it easy to move around. When set for use, the shoe sits at a comfortable working height and most come with interchangeable shoes to suit bending of different conduit sizes.
Electric Bender Tools
This style of bender uses electrical power to make the bend and this makes bending faster and more efficient. The tool features a bending shoe and electric motor mounted on a wheeled metal frame. It typically has a use on larger construction projects, which have a high volume of PVC conduit bending work.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images