The time has come for me to replace one of my benders. I notices that the 'tongue' that holds / indexes the pipe had become bent, so bending accuracy suffered. Also, mine is considerably heavier (in both head and handle) than some of the 'company' benders.
So I'll put the question out: Is there a particular brand / type that you prefer? Why? Factor handle- or site-made?
Imagine ... a tool as basic as a bender to our trade, and so few responses! (Perhaps our members are busy chasing Pokemon critters!)
At the site, we have several different brands. Some of the things I've noticed are:
- GB seems to be the only one with the handle oriented differently to the head. Imagine you'r3e using the bender, with the pipe laying on the floor .... with GB, a 45-degree bend is made when the handle is vertical; with all the rest, you've made a 30-degree bend at that point. (Big strike against GB!);
- "Factory" handles seem lighter, and the wider end is large enough to slip over a stub-up and use as a 'hickey' for small adjustments (Plus One for the factory!);
- There's quite a variation in the legibility of markings between benders. For many, it's quite difficult to read the "deduct" information, it's quite easy to confuse the 30 and 45 degree marks, some are marked in multipliers (ie: 1.4 rather than 45), and it's quite difficult to see the 'index' arrows on some;
- Some benders have a real tendency to make lopsided (uneven) bends. I do not know if this is a consistent problem with the brand, or if it is unique to the individual bender. There seems to be a pattern between goofy bends, and whether there is a hole in the shoe where the handle mounts; and,
- Some handle colors seem to camouflage themselves on site. Klein, with its' orange handle, especially seems to disappear when hung from a lift.
My bender with the bent dog is a cast-iron head.
I will wait for more comments, and continue my evaluations.
Well, I've been looking at every bender I can find ... and what have I found?
Greenlee is the only one that has a shoe without the hole in the middle of it. The part you stand on is larger. The handle is lightweight, and clearly meant to be used as a hickey. Alas, the angle markings are pretty bland, and the alignment arrow is tiny. Precise- but tiny.
Klein and Ideal both have (this month) black heads, and the markings are quite sharp and clear.
Southwire is the cheapest, and the handle is heavy.
Prices range from $27 for the Southwire to $84 for the Ideal. Klein prices vary widely, depending on the handle; the cheaper Klein models have simple pipe handles, that cannot be used as hickeys.
One place sold the handles and heads separately. "Everyone makes their own," I was told. Oddly enough, in my experience I'm the ONLY guy with a home-made handle. Buying the head and handle separately carries about a $20 price penalty.
GB was not considered. I have already mentioned the different head orientation, where GB benders have made a 45 degree bend when the handle is vertical, compared to my common use of a 30 degree bend. IMO, this cancels out any value the integral level might have.
Overall, it looks like Greenlee gets the nod. I sure wish they would clarify the markings on them.
As for brand loyalty ... I have none. Part of this is by necessity; nobody has everything available everywhere. Moreover, brands often have some tools that are superb, and some that are duds.