Second-year apprentices learn the art of conduit bending

Pat Sturgeon was one of many second-year commercial apprentices learning the fundamentals of conduit bending during a recent class.

From conceptualizing to precise measurement taking, bending conduit is a crucial skill needed to succeed as a journeyman electrician.

“Conduit bending is a technique used to provide a path for our circuit conductors to get from point A to point B,” said Bob Mass, journeyman inside electrician, Grunau Company. “Unfortunately, there’s never a straight path to get there. So, we have to learn techniques on how to change directions in conduit, and how to change elevations. We learn different types of bending techniques that will get us there.”

And as part of their training, second-year commercial electrician apprentices through the Youngstown Area Electrical JATC recently learned the ins-and-outs of conduit bending.

“In class, we get to work with different scenarios thanks to the materials provided for us,” said Eric Klingensmith, commercial electrician apprentice. “We get to use the triple nickel and Chicago bender. Last year, we learned hand bending. Working on these different scenarios gives us experience that we can take back to the job site and make the most of a contractor’s materials.”

Attention to detail is a vital aspect of mastering this fundamental task.

“To be a good conduit bender, it takes a lot of practice,” Mass said. “It’s a skill. You have to be really good at math and be able to visualize. You need to be able to understand drawings and prints so you can find the best path to get there.”

Over the years, technology has also helped further conduit bending on projects.

“Twenty to 30 years ago, there was a lot of trigonometry in making conduit bends,” Mass said. “Now, we have some standard bends, and we try to stay with 30 degrees and 45 degrees using the multiplier method that simplifies conduit bending. I think it’s become easier over the years, but it still takes some skill and knowledge to perfect that.”

Klingensmith commented on how this is the ideal time to learn about bending conduit.

“This is giving us the experience that we’ll have through the rest of our apprenticeship, and that we can carry on with us when we become journeymen,” he said.

Mass also stressed the importance for apprentices to master this ability.

“Apprentices need to learn proper bending techniques,” he said. “As electricians, they’re going to bend a lot of conduit. On some of the larger jobs, 50 percent of the labor can be attributed to conduit bending. So, we want to give them the skills and techniques to properly bend conduit efficiently and effectively.”