A pipe bender is, not surprisingly, a device used by an electrician for the purpose of bending pipe. More specifically, a pipe bender allows the electrician to make very smooth mandrel bends in pieces of electrical metallic tubing (EMT) so that multiple pieces can be bent and then fit together to go cleanly around corners, around structural framework, and so on.

There exist manual and electric pipe benders. The manual type generally consists of a steel pole about four or five feet long, with a slotted mandrel and hook attached to the end. The end of a piece of tubing to be bent is slipped through the hook, and the tubing set on the floor with the pole upright. The user pulls back on the pole, causing the hook to catch the end of the pipe and bend it over the mandrel. Each bender has a mandrel sized for a specific size of EMT, i.e. 1/2 inch, 1 inch, 1 1/2 inch, and so on. The bender has hash marks on it for various angles, 30 degrees, 60 degress, and 90 degrees, so that the user only needs to bend the pipe up to the hash mark to achieve the desired angle.

As the EMT size grows in diameter, or the user is forced to work with stiff piping such as rigid, the force required to bend the pipe grows. Bending a piece of 1.5 inch rigid conduit with a manual bender is tough work!

When the pipe size grows to the point where the bender and the person required to bend it becomes unwieldy, an electric pipe bender is used. These devices use a high torque electric motor attached to a similarly shaped mandrel to bend the wire. The user slips the pipe to be bent through the hook on the end of the mandrel, and then the machine will slowly bend the pipe. These machines generally have similar hash marks allowing the desired angles. An electric bender can bend 2 and even 3 inch pipe!

Pipe bending is an art form that electrician's assitants the world over will become well-acquainted with.