How to Bend Soft Copper Tubing 1 Inch in Diameter

Plumbers and homeowners bend 1-inch-diameter copper tubing to navigate around obstacles.

Spring-Coiled Bender

Unlike rigid copper pipe, it is possible to bend copper tubing without damaging it. Copper pipe requires the use of elbows, branches and T-fittings to move around obstructions. Copper tubing is durable, resists corrosion and is easy to work with. Copper tubing is also virtually maintenance-free, as it does not need protective paints or coatings to protect its surface. Copper tubing has many uses, including water supply applications and air conditioning and heating systems.

Place a ball mandrel inside the copper pipe. A ball mandrel is a series of steel balls held together with wire or cable. When placed inside copper tubing prior to bending, it will not allow the tubing to kink.

Insert the copper tube into a coiled-spring bender, matching up the section that will bend to the center of the bender.

Grip the coiled-spring bender at each end and use a clockwise twisting motion to form a bend in the copper tubing. Bend the copper tubing over your knee or a rounded object that has the same degree of arc that you plan to bend the tubing.

Ease the coiled-spring bender and copper tubing back to the exact angle you desire if your bend is too severe.

Heat Bending

Measure and mark the ends and middle of the bend.

Lay a fireproof blanket over the work surface. Move all flammable objects from the area to avoid a fire. Secure the copper tubing to a sturdy work surface with a vise or C-clamp.

Heat the tubing with a hand-held propane torch until the copper glows red. Allow the tubing to cool back to room temperature.

Pack sand tightly into the copper tubing and cap the ends.

Bend the tube over a bending jig, circular object or your knee until you reach your desired bend. Intense heat changes the molecular composition of the copper, which allows for easy bending even if the copper tubing is soft to begin with.

Things You Will Need

  • Ball mandrel
  • Coiled-spring bender
  • Fireproof blanket
  • Vise or C-clamp
  • Propane torch
  • Leather apron
  • Leather gloves
  • Eye protection

Warning

  • Wear a leather apron, leather gloves and heat-resistant eye protection when heating copper tubing with a propane torch.

About the Author

Sal Marco began writing professionally in 2009. He has written many online home improvement articles based on his more than 20 years of experience in the home improvement and building industries. He has worked as both part of a team and as a site supervisor. Marco has a Bachelor of Science in management science from Kean University.