Submitted by: S Burton

Plumbing is a professional trade and it is vital that plumbers have the correct tools of the trade to be able to do a variety of different jobs, from installations to maintenance work. Ideally they should use tools that are manufactured specifically for the trade, for example top quality Ridgid Tools. When assembling a plumbing tool kit, plumbers will consider all their needs from spades and shovels for digging trenches, leveling tools including spirit levels and dumpy levels, to specialized video inspection equipment for checking drains. Here we are going to look at some of the more common, but specific plumbing tools.

Tools for clamping and tightening

Plumbers need a selection of metal spanners and wrenches that they can use to clamp pipe work and tighten and undo nuts and bolts. There are various types including open-ended spanners, ring spanners, socket spanners, box spanners (or basin spanners) and invaluable shifting spanners that are adjustable. They also use various pliers and vices, including a vice-grip, which is a particularly useful multi-purpose tool that has an adjustable jaw. Pipe wrenches, which are manufactured in different sizes, are often called monkey wrenches (or a bobbejaan spanner) in South Africa, because its side view looks a bit like a monkey or baboon. Metal clamps of various sorts are also commonly included in a professional plumber’s toolkit. Interestingly it was the then revolutionary heavy-duty pipe wrench (the monkey wrench) that the Ridge Tool Company, makers of Ridgid tools, made to launch what is now the world’s leading pipe tool manufacturing company.

Tools for bending


Plumbers need special tools and machines to be able to bend mild steel and copper pipe. Copper may be bent using a bending spring, with hand or scissor-type benders, or with stand-type benders manufactured specifically for bending hollow copper pipe, which is a relatively soft metal. Small diameter mild steel pipes may also be bent with stand-type benders that are attached to a workbench. Large mild steel pipe will have to be bent using a more powerful hydraulic bending machine.

Tools for cutting

There are many different cutting tools that can be used to cut pipes and other plumbing materials. However it is essential for plumbers to use the correct tools for the job at hand. For example, hand-held pipe cutters are intended for cutting copper pipe and for deburring the inside of the pipe after cutting. Hacksaws are commonly used for cutting plastic pipe and thin mild steel or even copper pipe. However, more sturdy cut-off machines (which look like circular wood saws) are normally used for thicker pipe and other metal. Many plumbers also use old fashioned tin snips to cut thin sheet metal.

Tools for making thread in pipes

While some pipes are welded or soldered together, other types are joined with special connectors. When plumbers work with galvanized mild steel pipes, they normally cut a thread into the pipe so they can screw two pieces of pipe together. They use hand thread taps as well as special machines to do this.

Tools for clearing and cleaning drains

There are various specialized plumbing tools that plumbers use to both clear and clean drains. The most common are powerful jetting machines that come with various nozzles and heads. They can be used to get rid of sand, grease and even the roots of trees growing inside drains. They also use jetting machines to descale pipes and to clean sewers, which are on municipal or public property.

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