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Harbor Freight benders

Posted by islandgal (My Page) on
Fri, May 20, 05 at 23:09

Is the harbor freight hydraulic benders any good? Can it bend top rail tubing 13/8 and 15/8" without kinking or breaking? I would like to bend some top rail for a greenhouse frame and am thinking seriously about purchasing one...the 12 ton vertical/horizontal one.

Many thanks

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Harbor Freight benders

I have one of their benders it works OK on schedule 40 pipe but 2" EMT kinked. The dies have to closely match the O.D. of the pipe to prevent kinking. Check to see if they have dies that match the O.D. you intend to bend.

RE: Harbor Freight benders

I have one of the hydraulic benders from Harbor Freight. I have bent schedule 40, EMT, square tubing, as well as solid round and square material and have never had problems with kinking the material. Like "triptester" says, the secret is to use the right size dies. To bend 1-5/8" you need 1-5/8" dies, NOT 1-3/4" so make sure your bender comes with the exact sizes you need. Also don't try to bend too tight an arc, and be sure to lubricate the roller dies to make sure they roll easily as the pipe moves over them. Where I live, you can rent such a bender for $30 for twenty-four hours, I rented and tried one before I forked over the money and bought mine. You may look around to rent one if you won't need it after your greenhouse project.

RE: Harbor Freight benders

Hi, even though this is an old thread. My son purchased a tubing bender designed to bend greenhouse hoops, it is a manual bender but very easy to use and low cost. It made perfect hoops in a few minutes, and I now have a perfect greenhouse. My son is very excided now and will use it to build his own greenhouse. The seller provides greenhouse instructions also. You can research this more by going to thier web site. They also have a really neat water well drilling guide. you can find them at

Here is a link that might be useful: lost creek greenhouses

RE: Harbor Freight benders

I know....this is an old thread, but I thought I'd post this anyway. Those Harbor Freight, (and other low-price benders as well), often state in their ads that they are "pipe and tubing benders".

As posted before, the kinking results from the dies being improperly sized for the material being bent. The reason the dies are improperly sized, (and what the bender manufacturers should just SAY up front), is that pipe and tubing have always been measured differently. Pipe dimensions are inside diameter measurements, tubing dimensions are outside measurements.

In other words, unless you're spending the big bucks for a complete Hossfeld bender or equivalent with a full set of dies.....there's no such thing as a "pipe and tubing bender".

Those cheaper benders from H-F and others have always, (and likely will always be), sold only with pipe dies. Bending tubing requires tubing dies, and for best results.....a bender that rolls the tubing along a matching following bar as it's bent to keep kinking in check. No tubing bender used in any type of OEM manufacturing or fabrication application uses a simple ram pushing a die into the material to bend it. Even with a proper set of dies, tubing wall thickness would still allow kinking to occur with such a setup.

H-F should just label those hydraulic jack contraptions *pipe bender/tubing kinker*.....and be done with it.


RE: Harbor Freight benders

I know....this is an old thread, but I thought I'd post this anyway. Those Harbor Freight, (and other low-price benders as well), often state in their ads that they are "pipe and tubing benders".

I don't know much about the HF bender. however you are wrong about "all low cost benders" being tubing kinkers, because these folks do have a low cost greenhouse tubing bender that really works. Not only was my greenhouse built with it, I have loaned it to just about everone living nearby. They to built greenhouses,close to a dozen and I guess close to a hundred bow frames, My little bender has bent every greenhouse bow perfectly for every body just like their ad says it does in 60 seconds without even one kink. By the way my bender does not have a ram, jack, in fact it has no moving parts at all. The bender manufacture has opened a new web site and I have posted a link to an interesting information page just for the critics in all of us. They do sell on ebay also and sometimes at a lower price, thats were I got my first bender at, I now have a second bender also purchased on ebay,,

Here is a link that might be useful: It works bender

RE: Harbor Freight benders

WHOA THERE broke not

Just to insure that informed readers are correctly informed. I'm not picking on the finer points here but if you intend to enlighten others even and especialy the little points can make a big difference, reference your statement below.

Quoting you: "Pipe dimensions are inside diameter measurements, tubing dimensions are outside measurements."

is also incorrect. EXAMPLE, EMT or electrical metal tubing is just that, it's tubing not pipe and it is measured by inside dimensions and inside dimensions according to you is only used to measure pipe? This is easily demostrated with any measuring tape. This information is fresh in mind because I just helped my husban install 200 feet of the stuff in our second greenhouse which we built using metal tubing measured by outside dimension's. Readers have to wade through to much mis information already.


Here is a link that might be useful: EMT

RE: Harbor Freight benders

Hi again...

Gary my husband; and my bottomless vault of knowledge has shed so more light on the difference between pipe and tubing. Both can and do use inside or outside measurements. The difference is not the name used, it is the purpose of its use that determines how it is measured. All round or square types that are manufactured to be used for structure componets are measured using outside measurements. Because you need to know the outside size of the tubing or pipe to allow it's use it in fabrication of structures/equipment. Any round or (rarely) square type manufactured for the purpose of transmitting materials of any kind,air, water, oil ect. is measured using inside measurements. This is to allow users to determine the volume of material contained within the tubing or pipe ties pressure will produce flow rate of material.

By the way Gary has use one of thos HF benders andsay's it works good for what it and it's dies are designed for, adding that it is not designed to bend greenhouse hoops.

Hope this helps

RE: Harbor Freight benders

Just a few comments from someone who works w/ metal for a living. The greenhouse hoop benders create a huge, lazy bend, which is much different from the relatively sharp, 90 degree bend of the HF unit. Even w/ the proper dies, the HF bender would probably kink tubing. And pipe sizes don't reflect either the OD OR the ID of pipe! Look it up on a chart- the smaller sizes in particular are way bigger than the 'size' given. I have no idea why this is. As an example, 1/4" pipe has an OD of .540", and an ID of .364", which is over twice the area of 1/4". This means it would flow over twice as much as 'true' 1/4" pipe. Bottom line: get a pipe bender for pipe; a tubing bender for tubing. The greenhouse hoop benders work more like a giant conduit bender than the HF ram type.

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