• SkillCat Team

Key Piping Tools - Pliers, Wrenches & Threaders

Updated: Jun 23


Piping: Chapter 6


Key Piping Tools - Pliers and Wrenches


In this module, you will learn about piping tools used for holding the pipe and tighten or loosen pipe fittings. We will also learn to safely use these tools. Skip to quiz!


Pliers


Recall that while working you have to hold the pipe securely. Piping tools allows proper gripping on objects that are tough to hold. Locking plier is a type of plier that is used to hold these pipes. They are also called called vice grip.


Vice grips are hand held tools used to clamp down an object. Vice grips are excellent for gripping objects that are tough to hold onto. Vice grips are commonly used on stripped screws or piping.


The vice grip has several parts including:

  • The handle,

  • The jaws,

  • The adjustment nut, and

  • The lever


We need to hold the vice grip by the handles. The jaws of the vice grip will hold onto the object you are looking to lock down.


The adjustment nut is present at the end of the top handle and decides the width of the jaws. To increase the width of the jaws, turn the nut counterclockwise. To decrease the width of the jaws, turn the nut clockwise.


The lever on a vice grip is used to release the vice from the material. Once the vice grip is locked, pressing the lever will cause the jaws to open and release the material.


To use a vice grip, start by adjusting the adjustment nut on the top handle. The jaws of the vice grip should be slightly larger than the object you are gripping. Place the object between the jaws of the vice grip.


Squeeze the handles together until you hear a clicking sound. The clicking sound means that the vice grip is “locked”. If you remove your hands, the vice grip will remain securely attached to the object.


To release the vice grip from the object, press the lever. Once the lever is released, open the jaws. Pull the vice grip away from the material.



Wrenches


Recall that for connecting the pipes we use fittings. These fittings have to be tight enough to avoid leakage. For example, if you don't close the tap tightly, water leaks from the tap.


The pipe fittings are fitted tightly using wrenches. We will have a look at following types of wrenches:

  • Strap wrench, and

  • Pipe wrench

Let us now discuss about how to use them.


The strap wrench is a wrench that holds objects by tightening straps around the object. It uses material like rubber, nylon for strap to provide grip. This prevents sliding object from strap.


Strap wrench are used for tightening or loosening nut and pipes. They are used to fix household problems such as tap and kitchen faucets.


To use strap wrench, you start by holding the handles. Cover the straps around the item you want to tighten or loosen up. The strap should fit firmly into the item. This is done by pulling strap towards you until tight.


Grab the handle firmly and turn it to the desired side whether you want to tighten or loosen the piece. We should turn wrench to the right or counterclockwise to tighten.


To loosen the pipe, flip wrench over so strap channel is facing downward. Turn wrench to the left or clockwise to loosen.


If the straps happen to come loose while doing this, you can very quickly place them back and continue. You can also apply oil or grease to the area you are using the strap wrench on if it isn't loosening. By doing so, you will be able to twist it off more easily.


A pipe wrench is designed to be used on soft piping, like black pipe. The pipe wrench has an adjustable jaw that lets you work on a variety of pipe sizes. The jaws of a pipe wrench also have sharp teeth which give it a better grip on pipes.


The pipe wrench has four parts:

  • The handle,

  • The adjustable nut,

  • The fixed jaw, and

  • The adjustable jaw

You can see each section in the image to the right.


We need to hold the pipe wrench at the end of the handle for maximum leverage. The adjustable nut is a rotating dial that you twist to increase or decrease the size of the jaws.


All pipe wrenches have a fixed jaw and an adjustable jaw. The fixed jaw does not move. It is “fixed” into one position. The adjustable jaw will move up and down as you rotate the adjustable nut.


The adjustable jaw also has a rocker built into the jaw. The rocker allows the fixed jaw to hook onto pipe. It also allows you to easily reposition the jaw.


A pipe wrench has an adjustment nut that moves the jaws closer or farther apart. Move the adjustable nut clockwise to bring the jaws closer together. Move the adjustable nut counterclockwise to move the jaws farther apart.


A pipe wrench is used for tightening or loosening piping. The sharp teeth on a pipe wrench give you extra grip as you rotate the wrench. Pipe wrenches are longer than other wrench types. The longer wrench provides more leverage.


To use a pipe wrench, start by rotating the adjustment nut until the pipe jaws are slightly larger than the pipe. Place the pipe in between the jaws. The pipe should not be touching the back of the jaw. You can see an example of proper contact in the image to the right.


Rotate the adjustment nut until the pipe jaws are lightly biting into the soft pipe. When using a pipe wrench, you want the force to go into the fixed jaw. To do this, the opening in the jaws should be facing in the direction you will rotate the wrench.


For example, in the image to the right you want to rotate the handle clockwise. If you rotate the handle clockwise, you will be moving in the direction of the open jaws. If you try to rotate the pipe wrench in the wrong direction, the rocker will unhook the wrench.


Like with other wrenches, always position yourself so that you pull the wrench towards you. Pulling the handle towards you is safer and prevents smashing your knuckles into objects. Rotating the wrench clockwise will tighten the pipe. Counter clockwise will loosen the pipe.


Once you have rotated the pipe, you can bring the pipe back to the starting position. Similar to the socket wrench, the adjustable jaw on the pipe wrench only pulls in one direction. This allows you to easily make multiple turns of the wrench without having to remove the wrench from the piping.


Once the pipe is loosened, we need to remove the pipe wrench from the pipe. Press down on the adjustment nut and the adjustable jaw will loosen from the pipe. Pull the pipe wrench away from the pipe.


When you are using a pipe wrench, you must be careful what material you place the wrench on. The teeth of the pipe wrench can damage softer materials like brass. The teeth can also damage pipe threading, nuts, bolts, and other fasteners.


Vice grips are a type of pliers that are used to clamp down an object. The strap wrench is a wrench that holds objects by tightening straps around the object. The pipe wrench has an adjustable jaw. They are longer than other wrenches. The longer wrench provides more leverage.




Key Piping Tools - Threading Pipe


In this module, we will learn about pipe threading tools to thread pipes. We will also learn about how to use these tools safely. Skip to quiz!


Threading Pipe

A pipe threader is a device used to cut grooves or threads into the end of a metal pipe. These grooves are similar to those found on a traditional screw. They serve the same basic function of holding component so that they cannot be pulled apart.


A pipe threader allows you to fasten a length of pipe securely to a coupling or connector. The threads on the pipe fit into a pattern of threads in the connector. They allow us to screw the two components together by hand.


Mechanical Threader


A mechanical pipe threader uses a manually operated ratchet. This is a good option if you want to thread softer and lightweight pipe material. This is used for a capacity of up to 2 inches pipe.


The mechanical pipe threader is also called ratcheting pipe threader. Ratcheting threader allows rotation in one direction only. Ratcheting pipe threaders come with die heads in different diameters.


A die head is the part of the pipe threader that actually cuts the threads. The face of the die head has numbers on it that indicate the size of pipe it is for. For example, if it says 1/2 on it, the die head is for threading 1/2-inch piping.


A ratcheting handle is used to rotate the threader around the end of the pipe to cut the threads in it. Ratcheting handle is hold at the end for maximum leverage.


Before using pipe threader, cut the end of pipe to ensure the end is straight. Improper and slant end will cause poor thread quality. Also, remove burrs formed due to cutting of the pipe to ensure die head enter the pipe smoothly.


To use a pipe threader, secure the pipe firmly in a vise. Select a die head that is of the appropriate size for the pipe you want to add threads to. Insert the die head into the ratchet.


Apply gentle pressure to the front of the die head with 1 hand and rotate the pipe threader handle clockwise with your other hand. Use threading oil onto all the teeth of the die head. This is important to make cutting easier and prevent wear and tear on the teeth.


Keep ratcheting the handle until end of dies are matches with end of pipe. When the thread is complete, reverse the ratchet mechanism and turn the die head in opposite direction.


Do not slide a extension attached such as pipe over the handle to gain extra leverage. This practice can result in serious injury.


Worn dies can result in poor thread quality and high handle forces. We need to apply more effort and can cause arm pain. Make sure the handle is clean and free from oil and grease. Slippery handle leads to injury.



Power Threader


For heavier duty or high volume repetitive work we need to use a power threading machine. This type of machine can thread a wide range of pipe including black, galvanized and plastic-coated pipe, along with stainless steel and heavy-wall conduit.


The power threading machine has many parts including:

  • Front and rear chuck,

  • On/Off switch,

  • Carriage and carriage handwheel, and

  • Die head


Lower the die head into the threading position. Select the die head using the sizing bar on the top of die head. Close the die head.


Move the power switch to the ON position. Depress the foot switch. This will start the rotation of the chuck. With both hands, grasp the carriage handwheel.


Turn carriage handwheel to move the die head to the end of the pipe. Apply slight force to the handwheel to start the die head onto the pipe. Once the die head starts threading the pipe, no more force is required on the carriage handwheel. It will rotate automatically.


When the thread is complete, open the die head. Remove foot from the foot switch. Move the power switch to the OFF position.


We need to tighten both front and rear check jaws for long pipes. Tighten the pipe in the chuck by rotating the hand wheel counterclockwise.


Do not use this machine if the foot switch is broken or missing. The foot switch provides safe control of the machine, such as emergency shut off in case of entanglement.


Never reach into the machine front chuck or rear centering head. This will reduce the risk of entanglement. Keep handles and grasping surfaces dry, clean, and free from oil and grease. Wear gloves to protect our hands from sharp edges.


While operating the machine, stand on the side where the operator control switch is located. Operating the machine from this side eliminates need to reach over the machine.



Hand Held Threader


The mechanism of threading using hand held threading is the same as the mechanical pipe threader. The only difference is that its die head rotates automatically by electric power. This is the reason it is more faster and requires lesser physical effort than mechanical pipe threader.


The hand held threading machine has many parts. These are as follows:

  • Forward/reverse switch

  • Handle

  • Grease fitting

  • Torque arm for attachment


Secure the pipe firmly in a vise. Insert support arm for better support of the machine and pipe. Position the die head over the pipe end such that the hole present on the machine matches with the support arm and locks it.


We can also make use of pipe wrench to support the hand held pipe threader. Attach wrench to the pipe and then support the threader arm on the pipe wrench.


Make sure the machine is in the forward direction for clockwise rotation. Apply oil on the pipe.


Apply pressure on the trigger to start rotation of dies. This will start cutting of thread. Hold

onto the power drive handle firmly to resist the handle forces developed while breaking the thread chip. Stop the machine end of the pipe is even with edge of the dies.


Actuate the switch button in reverse direction to remove die head from the threaded pipe. Notice that die head rotates counter clockwise for reverse direction. Release the switch and remove the power drive and die head from the pipe.


Always firmly hold the power drive when threading or backing die head off the pipe to resist threading forces. Do not wear loose clothing when operating machines. Keep sleeves and jackets buttoned. Clothing can be caught by the pipe or machine resulting in entanglement.


Keep handles dry and clean, free from oil and grease. This allows better control of the tool without slipping. Do not use dull or damaged dies. They will require more torque, and they are not easier to control.


For using all of the tool we discussed before, use personal protective equipment. Always wear eye protection and gloves. Protective equipment such as dust mask, non-skid safety shoes, hard hat, or hearing protection will reduce personal injuries.


A mechanical pipe threader uses a manually operated ratchet. For heavier duty or high volume repetitive work we use a power threading machine. In handheld ratcheting threader the die head rotates automatically by electric power.



Question #1: Locking plier is also called as ______

  1. Pipe wrench

  2. Strap wrench

  3. Vice grip

  4. Wrench

Scroll down for the answer...














Answer: Vice grip

Recall that Locking plier is a type of plier that is used to hold these pipes.

They are also called called vice grip.


Question #2: How do you ensure vice grip is locked correctly?

  1. Using wrench to tighten adjustment nut

  2. Hearing clicking sound after pressing handle

  3. Pulling the vice grip

  4. All of the above.

Scroll down for the answer...














Answer: Hearing clicking sound after pressing handle

The clicking sound means that the vice grip is “locked”. Squeeze the handles together until you hear a clicking sound.


Question #3: Tightening nuts using strap wrench is not possible.

  1. True

  2. False

Scroll down for the answer...













Answer: False

Strap wrench are used for tightening or loosening nut and pipes. They are used to fix household problems such as tap, kitchen faucets.


Question #4: We only need to rotate the strap wrench counterclockwise to loosen the pipe end.

  1. True

  2. False

Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: False

To loosen the pipe, Flip wrench over so strap channel is facing downward. Turn wrench to the left or clockwise to loosen.


Question #5: What should you do when attaching a pipe wrench to a pipe?

  1. Make sure the pipe wrench is pulling at an angle that is not straight.

  2. That the pipe wrench teeth are securely fixed to the pipe.

  3. That you are pulling near the top of the wrench.

Scroll down for the answer...















Answer: That the pipe wrench teeth are securely fixed to the pipe.

In order to use a pipe wrench correctly, the teeth of the pipe wrench must be securely attached to the pipe.


Question #6: A pipe wrench should not be attached to:

  1. Nuts

  2. Bolts

  3. Brass Fittings

  4. All of the above

Scroll down for the answer...














Answer: All of the above

The teeth of a pipe wrench are sharp and easily damage soft metal, nuts, and bolts.


Question #7: What is function of threads?

  1. Allow pulling the components together

  2. Make stronger bond of metals

  3. Holding component so that they cannot be pulled apart.

  4. Increasing pressure

Scroll down for the answer...













Answer: Holding component so that they cannot be pulled apart.

The function of thread is holding component so that they cannot be pulled apart.


Question #8: Which component is available in different sizes and used to cut threads?

  1. Ratchet handle

  2. Die head

  3. Bender die

  4. Threading gauge

Scroll down for the answer...












Answer: Die head

A die head is the part of the pipe threader that actually cuts the threads. Ratcheting pipe threaders come with die heads in different diameters.


Question #9: What prevents wear and tear on the teeth of die head.

  1. Pipe dope

  2. Lubrication oil

  3. Teflon tape

  4. Thread lock

Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: Lubrication oil

Use threading oil onto all the teeth of the die head. This is important to make cutting easier and prevent wear and tear on the teeth.


Question #10: Threading will not get affected by the uneven or inclined end of the pipe.

  1. True

  2. False

Scroll down for the answer...














Answer: False

Improper and slant end will cause poor thread quality. We should make sure that end of piping is even before threading.


Question #11: How do you insert die head into the pipe to start threading.

  1. By rotating spindle

  2. By pushing the die head

  3. By rotating the hand wheel

  4. By rotating front and rear chuck

Scroll down for the answer...















Answer: By rotating the hand wheel

Turn carriage handwheel to move the die head to the end of the pipe. Apply slight force to the handwheel to start the die head onto the pipe.


Question #12: What is function of foot switch?

  1. To provide fire safety

  2. On or Off the machine during emergency

  3. Provide earthing to machine from electric shock

  4. Secondary machine tool can be operated using foot switch

Scroll down for the answer...














Answer: On or Off the machine during emergency

The foot switch provides safe control of the machine, such as emergency shut off in case of entanglement.


Question #13: Hand held threader requires more effort than other threading tools.

  1. True

  2. False

Scroll down for the answer...















Answer: False

The die head of hand held threader rotates automatically by electric power. This is the reason it is more faster and requires lesser physical effort.


Question #13: What is the use of support arm?

  1. To move the hand held threader forward

  2. To rotate the hand held threader

  3. To support the vice clamp

  4. To support the hand held threader

Scroll down for the answer...














Answer: To support the hand held threader

The support arm is used support of the machine and pipe. Position the die head over the pipe end such that the hole present on the machine matches with the support arm and locks it.

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