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, and serve the same basic function. A pipe threader allows plumbers or builders 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, allowing users to screw the two components together by hand. This device allows installers to complete plumbing projects quickly, and also serves as a handy tool for emergency or repair work.
Before threading the pipe, plumbers use a pipe-cutting tool to cut the pipe to the desired length. The end of the pipe is then inserted into the pipe threader. Special cutting tools, or dies, within the threader can be used to create the proper thread profile and depth. Manual pipe threaders are operated using a ratcheting motion, while larger units include a motor to automatically cut the threads. The pipe threader must be lubricated with special oil to ensure a smooth cut and to maximize the life of equipment.
After cutting threads, users must clean the threads using a tool known as a thread reamer. This device smooths out the edges of the threads and removes burs or debris. Without the thread reamer, the user would have difficulty screwing the pipe into the connector.
Different types of pipe-threading machines are designed to accommodate various pipe materials and diameters. Small tabletop units can thread very small diameter pipes, such as those found in the home. Professional plumbers often use tripod or truck-mounted machines, which are much heavier and capable of threading larger pipes. The largest and most heavy-duty pipes require the use of an industrial pipe threader, which is so large and heavy that it cannot be transported to the job site.
The primary advantage associated with pipe threaders is the speed and productivity they provide to plumbing professionals. Without a pipe threader, users would have to buy pre-cut lengths of pipe that were pre-threaded by the manufacturer. This machine allows builders to cut pipes to the proper length in the field, then thread them as needed. This means fewer trips to the store, resulting in a shorter project schedule. It also makes it easy for plumbers to quickly complete repair work during a plumbing emergency, as they can examine the problem and immediately cut and thread pipes to replace damaged units.