A pipe threader is a type of that that gives you the ability and precision to cut threads on the ends of a metal pipe. It can be used to create threads for both male and female attachments. This tool is mainly used in plumbing, mining, and other industrial settings.
Pipe Threader vs. Grooving Machine
Don’t go making the mistake of equating pipe threaders and rolling grooving machines. Pipe threaders cut a spiral or helical groove along the outside (threading) or interior (reaming) of a cylindrical or cone-shaped metal piece where the ends of the groove never meet. This allows you to screw one end of a pipe into another, something plumber and metalworkers may need for their line of work. A grooving machine cuts a circular groove along the metal piece producing a groove without ends.
Pipe Threader Buying Guide
Picking the right pipe threader requires understanding what you intend to do with it. Pipe threaders range from heavy-duty, industrial-grade machines that can thread pipes of up to 6 inches in diameter or more to small, hand-cranked threaders for thinner pipes. In this section, we’ll go over the most important features and specs to consider when shopping for a pipe threader.
Manual vs. Electric
The first thing you need to decide is whether you can work with a cost-effective, hand-cranked pipe threader or a costlier electric one. It ultimately comes down to what sort of projects you’re undertaking – less demanding projects like threading soft copper pipes can be done effectively with a simple hand-cranked tool, but if you’re working at an industrial level, then an electric pipe threader will save you much more time when working on more challenging threading jobs.
There are several different thread types to consider. Each of them serves a different task so you may need one over the other. The most common types used are round, and hex die nuts. The round type is typically designed to be placed inside of a T-handle. This is the better choice to get if you plan on cutting threads into virgin material. Hex die nuts can be used on regular hand-operated tools. Hex die nuts are most commonly used to fix existing threads that need repairs.
It’s crucial that you know the dimensions of the thread to get the job done effectively. The standard way of measuring threads is in threads-per-inch. The tool will indicate how many inches it can thread, but you also need to be aware of the required size drill bit in order to work on a certain-sized hole. If the hole is smaller than the drill bit, then you may end up removing more material than you intended, effectively ruining the structural integrity of the metal piece. If the hole is too large, then you’ll end up removing too little material and risk stripping the threads completely.
The most commonly used thread sizes are ½ an inch, ¾ an inch, 1 inch, 1-1/2 inches, and 2 inches. However, you can purchase additional dies if necessary for your project. Just make sure that it either comes from the manufacturer of your pipe threader or is compatible with your tool.
Pipe threaders aren’t exactly meant to be handled delicately. Because of this, you’ll want a unit that can withstand accidental bumps and drops in the workshop. A good example of a durable housing of a pipe threader would be one made of forged aluminum or steel with little to no exterior components made of plastic. It may add a bit more weight to the unit, but it’ll help keep the gears nice and safe from outside disturbances.
Grinding metal against metal to create threads can be dangerous to both the workpiece and the pipe threader. One of the most effective ways to keep your work clean is by oiling the piece as it turns. Oil will lubricate the pipe or conduit to reduce friction and dissipate heat quicker. Some of the best pipe threaders we’ve seen have an auto-oiling system which drips oil onto the workpiece as its being threaded and reamed.
If you’re doing simple threading work, you don’t need a heavy-duty floor model that’ll consume more floor space than a bandsaw. Instead, we recommend checking out benchtop models that are lightweight (around 50 pounds), mountable onto a workbench or table, and easy to transport. That way you can thread and ream pipes at the job site rather than taking the piece away from the location to work.
Attaching Die Heads
When switching between die heads for differently sized pipes or threads, you don’t want something that’ll require taking the unit apart in order to install a new die head. Instead, look for a model with a side lock that gives you access to the old die and lets you snap on a new die in no time. This is more of a time-saving feature, but it’s something we highly value in pipe threaders.
There’s no denying that a pipe threader and its accessories will deteriorate over time, especially the die heads after neglecting to keep them thoroughly lubed whenever in use. If you’re shopping around for a pipe threader, make sure that it comes from a reliable source and manufacturer. This will make the process of finding replacement dies and other spare parts much easier and quicker rather than purchasing a unit from some obscure place and company.
Pipe threaders are now more affordable and compact than they were a mere ten years ago. They’ve become smaller, more portable, lightweight, and easier to use. No longer will you have to visit the pipe-threading shop to get your pipes threaded by a professional pipe threader. You can now bring the tool to the job site and get your job done much quicker. Although pipe threaders come in different shapes and sizes, they all pretty much work the same.
Because of this, it’s important that you pay attention to the quality and durability of the unit. You also need to consider whether a pipe threader has the capacity to thread and ream pipes based on what you need to be done. Other features such as self-oiling systems and quick die head swapping enhance the experience of owning and operating this tool.