Making a sharp bend in copper tubing without kinking

All the items you need to bend copper tubing are shown on the left.

  • A hex nut about the thickness, or slightly larger than, of the tubing diameter.

  • Two flat washers as large as you have laying around with holes smaller than the OD of the nut.

  • The copper tubing.

  • A vise, or suitable clamp to hold the washers and nut.

Make a sandwich with the nut and two washers. Place the nut in the middle with the two washers on the outside. If the washers are small you may have to use a small bit of heavy grease to hold the assembly together while you clamp it in the vise. Use just a small amount of grease around the hole on each side of the nut. All this needs to do is keep the nut from slipping while you clamp it.

Clamp the sandwich with the nut at one of the upper corners of the vise. In the picture on the right you see it clamped at the upper right hand corner, when facing the handler, of the vise jaws.

Place the copper tubing into the sandwich until it's snugly against the nut. Use something to hold the short end of the tubing. If you just have a short piece of tubing use something at each end to hold it.

Here we're using a pair of needle nose pliers, but, depending on the size of your tubing, you can use nails, pin punches, welding rod, or whatever you have at hand that fits the tubing.

Hold the short end of the copper tubing tightly against the nut. Firmly bend the tubing around the nut as far as you need for your angle. Here, we're using a small diameter copper tube. If you have a larger diameter use a piece of steel pipe or conduit that fits over the tubing as a 'cheater' to help with the bend. If need be, use another 'cheater' to hold the short end, too.

Check your angle before you remove the sandwich from the vise. You can get up to 180° bends with this setup without kinking the copper tubing.

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Uploaded on 02/15/05 Copyright © by 2005 Chuck Mancuso for AEC Systems