This post mostly to provide inform someone else using metal tubing for his build, but I will post this here since it might help others in this thread.
The build owner (thread here)
bought some lengths of chrome tubing from Home Depot. This got me curious because I want to go back to attempt metal tubing but having it pre-chromed could save me some time.
He won't able to work on them for a few weeks, so I decided to experiment on my own. I recently got two of the cheapest 1/2" chrome-plated copper tubes that are sold at Home Depot, and posting my results from bending them.
The two that I bought are faucet supply lines, from a link in that build log. They're from two different brands, BrassCraft and Homewerks Worldwide. They're both 20" long so it didn't give me a lot of room for many bends, but they were good enough for the experiment.
I used a Ridgid 398 tube bender for 1/2" tube. This could be bought used for under $40. One of the tubes (HomeWerks) was ordered online, it arrived somewhat bent. Though it wouldn't matter much here.
I put the two side by side to compare wall thickness. The BrassCraft tube has the thicker wall (left). HomeWerks, on the other hand, has a more polished finish and plating is a bit brighter in comparison. The BrassCraft tube is somewhat duller and the plating is a bit darker when placed next to the other tube, though it's hardly noticeable otherwise.
I expect the BrassCraft to hold up better for bends. The HomeWerks tube is thinner, walls are just under 1mm thick.
Now for the results from bending. Sorry these pictures didn't come out as sharp.
I cut both tubes into two pieces, then first bent the BrassCraft tube. The bends were mostly smooth though that is partly because I needed to grip the lever better to bend it. But with enough practice bends this tube is very workable. I'm pretty satisfied with the results.
One other thing- the clamping hook that holds the tube was biting a little too close to the tube, and pushed all the way it would make a "bite mark" denting that area next the the tube being bent. I just had to ease off on the hook a bit, and this will vary depending on the bending tool you use.
Bending the HomeWerks tube produced underwhelming results. It took a bit less effort to form the bends, but there is way too much outward flaring on the outside diameter. It is much more susceptible to uneven pressure so there are kinks and wrinkles on the inside of the bend.
So as I expected, the HomeWerks tube did worse due to its thinner wall. For me, this tube failed the test while BrassCraft's tube passed. I was bending both of them on a whim since they won't be used for a water cooling loop, but I should have consistently better results with the BrassCraft tube. I'm going to buy 3-foot lengths when I'm doing this for an actual build- hopefully they are from the same stock as the tubing I used here.Edited by ccRicers - 9/14/15 at 7:21am