A hand threader is a pipe working tool that allows an operator to cut threads into the end of a pipe. Pipe manufacturers often thread their pipe at preset sizes and lengths, but it may be necessary to cut custom threads for a particular operation. Threaders can work on metal, plastics, and other materials and are often available in the form of sets with interchangeable dies. The operator can select the most appropriate die for the application and fit it into the hand threader to prepare for pipe threading.
Threaders cut a series of fine lines into the end of a pipe. These allow a technician to connect pipes by screwing the threaded end into a component with matching internal threads. One occasion to use a hand threader is in a project where pipes must be cut to custom lengths. The operator can cut pipe to the right length and thread each end as needed. Hand threaders are also used in the custom fabrication of piping products, where a mechanical threader may not be cost effective or available.
The typical hand threader consists of a large rotating tool with a hole in the head for the die. To use it, the technician clamps the pipe in place, measures it to select the right die, and fits the die into the threader. The operator also needs to cut away any burrs and impurities in the pipe to make sure it will fit cleanly. Once this is done, the hand threader can be fitted to the end of the pipe and rotated to cut the threads. Considerable force may be required with heavy materials.
Some hand threader designs are relatively lightweight and useful for home improvement projects or applications where they are not routinely used. Professional models are heavier and include stronger, more durable components. These are necessary for people like plumbing contractors, as they may need to cut threads in pipe on a very regular basis. Various interchangeable dies allow operators to choose between different diameters and threading designs.
It may be possible to rent a hand threader for a specific project. Some hardware stores and tool libraries have a rental program for members of the public who need tools, but only on a temporary basis. Staff at the rental facility should provide a brief orientation and instructions to make sure the renter knows how to use the equipment correctly, and can offer advice on appropriate lubricants and other accessories to use.