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Home / Conduit Bending / Chicago Bender 101 – How to Use a Mechanical Conduit Bender

Chicago Bender 101 – How to Use a Mechanical Conduit Bender

If you’re new to the electrical trade and haven’t used a Chicago bender before then lets get you acquainted. A Chicago bender is a manual mechanical conduit bender that gets it’s name from…well…I don’t know. It’s just trade slang for this type of bender.

These types of benders are primarily used for RMC (rigid metal conduit) or IMC (intermediate metal conduit), not EMT (electrical metallic conduit).

Components of a Chicago Bender

This is a pretty straight forward set up. The bender is equipped with:

  • a bending degree indicator
  • a pipe hook that holds the end of the conduit
  • a handle that slides into the lever unit (if you don’t have a handle you can use a piece of 1″)
  • pipe supports that support the conduit during bending
chicago bender greenlee
Credit: Greenlee.com


Getting the Bender Set Up

First thing you need to do is move the bender to a flat area. Don’t set it up on an un-level surface because this will cause issues when trying to bend 90s, offsets, or kicks.

Next you’ll need at least a 5′ piece of 1″ RMC for the handle (if the bender doesn’t have one). The longer the handle, the more leverage you’ll have which will make bending conduit easier.

Personally I’ll try and brace the wheels to keep the bender from moving. The T on the back side usually keeps it in place but if I have a chance I’ll brace it.


Key Items To Remember When Using a Chicago Bender

  1. Keep the conduit under control when unloading from the bender.
  2. Make sure you maintain a firm grip on the handle. Spring-back may cause the handle to spring up suddenly.
  3. If you need to move the bender make sure you remove the handle and conduit before doing so.
  4. Inspect the bender before you use it. If something looks questionable don’t use it.

Try out a new bender with a scrap piece of pipe (if you have one). Remember to take your time when using a new Chicago bender. They take some getting use to and not every one is the same.

However, if you know how to bend conduit with a hand bender you’ll pick this right up.

Useful link: Greenlee Mechanical Bender instruction manual

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