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The Best Reamer for Electricians (Pipe Bending)


Affiliate Disclaimer

Some links contain affiliate links which means I may receive commission if you click a link and purchase a product.  These are all my own opinions - money will not sway me!

When you cut EMT pipe, it’s very important you REAM the pipe (also known as deburring). You must always think to yourself, “Is the Wire Safe?”.

After you cut metal conduit, if you gently touch the pipe opening with your finger, you will see it’s VERY SHARP, and know your wire will not be safe if you pull wires through the conduit raceway.

The solution is a EMT Pipe Reamer.

Best EMT Pipe Reamer for Electricians
Klein Tools Pipe Reamer is great for reaming EMT pipe!

The process of reaming pipe is quite simple.

After cutting a metal pipe, make sure to deburr the pipe opening from sharp edges before pushing wires through to meet code, and protect the wire.

Reaming tools can be called a EMT Pipe Reamer or Conduit Reamer, but basic electrician tools can ream pipe, too.. but dedicated pipe reamers ream the inside and outside of a pipe at the same time, which gave me the best experience!

Looking for my favorite EMT Pipe reamer? Here’s a direct link.

The Best Reamer for Electricians (Klein Tools Hand Reamer)

What We Cover in this Article:

  • What is a Pipe Reamer?
  • Different Types of Pipe Reamers

What is an EMT Pipe Reamer?

Showing the Reamer's EMT Pipe Sizes for Deburring a Pipe so its Safe for Wires
Showing a pipe reamer has different notches for EMT pipe, like 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″ EMT. Also, the notch is replaceable if it gets dull! And the tip of the reamer has a flat head to tighten couplings and connectors.

In short, an EMT Pipe reamer is a dedicated tool for deburring pipe after cutting to ensure that it’s safe for wires to be pulled through the raceway.

You DO NOT want to pull wires into a pipe that’s just been cut, as it’s VERY sharp.. you can risk damaging the wire, or score the wire insulation! (and compromise a wire’s integrity!)

We electricians use a deburring tool (reamer) to smooth out sharp edges of conduit to allow for a smooth edge before putting on connectors or couplings as we bend pipe. We will then pull our wires into the EMT pipe!

Best Hand Pipe Reamer for Electricians

Kelin Tools Conduit Reamer for EMT (and screwdriver)
Best Hand Pipe Reamer by Klein Tools

After many attempts of trying different tools to ream EMT pipe, I finally decided to buy this Hand Reamer by Klein Tools. (It also reams 1/2″, 3/4″, and 1″ EMT pipe).

I tried sidecutters, pliers, files, and even a screw-on reamer that goes onto a screwdriver (which didn’t hold very well, and made the screwdriver annoying to use for regular use).

If you bend a lot of pipe, it sped up my workflow tremendously. You just put it in the pipe, twist it back and forth a couple times, check if it’s smooth with your finger, and you’re good to go.

If the teeth ever dull out on you, you can easily replace the blade with an Allen Key.

(After 4-5 years of use, I never had to replace the blade!)

One word of caution, do not be SUPER HARD on the reamer. If going one way feels aggressive, try reaming in the other direction, and that often worked to prolong the life of the tool!

Different Types of Pipe Reamers

Different Tools for Reaming Pipes
This section will explain we can use Pliers, Sidecutters, or a File to Ream Pipe!
But.. you’ll find depending on the size of pipe they give a different experience..
A dedicated EMT Pipe Reamer is meant for 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″ pipe!

Now, I know an EMT Pipe Reamer is expensive, but if you do a lot of pipe bending, I think it was worth the cost for the improved workflow.

However, if just starting out, you can use basic tools to ream pipe! Let’s cover pipe reaming alternative tools (which are kind of free if you already own the tool!).

Note – Out of all these free tools, I found side-cutters gave the best experience to ream the inside and outside of EMT pipe.

Sidecutters (Diagonal Cutting Pliers) for Reaming Pipe

Side cutters (also known as Diagonal Cutting Pliers), are probably the BEST pipe reaming tool for an electrician tool you probably already own.

Side cutters can ream 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″ EMT pipe. (Anything bigger, it’s best to get a half-round file).

The video at the top of the article shows how to ream pipe with side cutters, which gives a great experience. The trick is to hold the side cutters loosely, and put the pipe in between the sidecutters blades, then twist either the pipe or sidecutters to deburr the inside and outside of the pipe!

Always test with your fingers to make sure the pipe entry is smooth before putting wires into the pipe!

Regular Lineman’s Pliers for Reaming

Favorite Klein Tools Pliers - D2000-9NE
My favorite splicing pliers by Klein Tools..
Watch the video here!

Reaming pipe with pliers is okay for 3/4″ and 1″ EMT, but it doesn’t work for 1/2″.. that’s why the sidecutter option above is a better alternative.

I also found the pliers to be quiet heavy during the pipe bending process..

Drill Attachment Pipe Reamer

I’ve never personally used a drill attachment EMT pipe reamer, but have seen them used on jobsites before.

It seemed electricians enjoyed them, but I cannot give you my opinion on it.

It has a hex head which attaches into your electrical drill, as well as a place to attach a screw driver bit (which seems like you can switch out to a Robertson or Phillips screw head).

Reading some quick reviews, it seems to have mixed reviews..

If I were to give an opinion, it seems handy, but also seems like it can be quite aggressive if you’re not careful. The biggest negative I can think of is that you don’t have the long length of a normal driver bit in your drill, which would make tightening couplings tricky in hard to reach places (stacks of pipe).

Personally, I liked using my recommended Pipe Reamer, and having my impact drill driver with its own bit.. that gave me the best workflow.

Half-Round File for Reaming Pipe

Half Round File for Bending EMT Pipe or Filing Strutt for Pipe Racks
This is a half-round file.. perfect for filing pipe with the round part, and the flat side for things like uni-strutt!
Half Round Pipe - Showing Flat and Round Filing Surface for EMT Pipe
Showing both sides of the half-round file.. one side is flat, one side is round.

When it came to EMT Pipe BIGGER than 1″, a normal hand pipe reamer won’t work.. so you’ll want to use a file, and my absolute favorite type of file for reaming big conduit is a HALF-ROUND file.

The round part was awesome for filing the inside of pipes, and the flat part is awesome for the outside edges of metal you cut, such as if building pipe racks, and you need to deburr the sharp edges after cutting.

By getting a half-round file, you get the best of both worlds.. you have a round file on one side, and a flat side on the other!

Best Pipe Reamer for Electricians

There’s LOTS of ways to ream EMT Conduit, and I hope the explanations clarified what’s the best tool for reaming pipe.

As mentioned, I enjoyed this Hand EMT Pipe Reamer by Klein Tools.

Let me know if you have any questions about tools for reaming EMT conduit!

Share Your Thoughts!

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