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How to Use Hydraulic Pipe Bender Shoes the Right Way

The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing?

Kevin Caron: I'm here in the studio working on a metal sculpture, using some pipe and some shoes. No, not the kind you wear on your feet. These go in the hydraulic pipe bender, and there's a trick to getting the right size shoe for the piece of metal pipe you're using.

If you look at all these, you'll see that they all have a measurement on them: half-inch, three-quarter, all the way up to two-inch.

Just take a tape measure and measure the inside diameter of your pipe. This is one inch and it fits here. If you get your three-quarter inch, you notice that it doesn't fit. If you try to use this one, because you want to get that radius, you're going to kink it and make a big mess. You'll get the pipe stuck in the shoe; then you'll have to beat it out with a hammer.

So, this is the one you're going to start with. Whatever the inside dimension is, the closest one you can get (oversize, not undersize) on your shoe, that's what you start with.

Now here's a little trick; something that I use if I want to get a different radius. I can always start this bend in the correct shoe, then move up to a little bigger one that has a little bigger radius and just smooth it out a little bit without kinking it; without making a big mess out of it. But you can never go smaller; you?ll need a different size pipe to go smaller with.

The Voice: You mean different shoes have different radiuses?

Kevin Caron: Definitely.

The Voice: Show me.

Kevin Caron: As you see, here's the half-inch metal pipe, and here's the three-quarter. You can see this one's a much tighter radius than this one is. If you try to force it; let's say you had a piece of three-quarter inch pipe that you were bending, but you wanted to get this radius on it, so you try to force it down even farther. Your pipe will end up hitting the bottom of the shoe right here and you'll end up with a kink. It would start to kink on both ends, as you're trying to bend it around.

So, don't force it. Just go easy with it and you'll get there.

Hope that answers your question.

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