Assembly and Holding Tools
A crucial tool for assembly is the wrench. As a plumber, you will use a variety of wrenches for turning pipes, fittings, and fasteners.
Some wrenches, such as a strap wrench, are designed to leave no marks. They are used for turning finish fasteners, where the slightest mark will ruin the appearance of the finish. Other wrenches are used to tightly grip materials that are hidden in a building’s structure, where marks left behind are not a concern.
Holding tools include vises and pliers. These tools hold plumbing materials and work pieces in place so that you can do something, like drill a hole, without the material or work piece moving around. These holding tools help you to be precise in your work.
A wrench is a familiar tool. It is usually operated by hand for tightening or loosening bolts, nuts, or anything that needs to be turned.
A wrench has a jaw, strap, or chain that grips or fits around the object needing to be tightened.
The next slide presents some common types of wrenches used by plumbers.
A pipe wrench is used to grip and turn round pipe and tubing. Regular heavy-duty pipe wrenches, 45-degree and 90-degree off-set pipe wrenches, and heavy-duty end wrenches are a few types of pipe wrenches.
The straight pipe wrench is the most common type. When working in tight quarters, use offset wrenches; their angles (45 or 90 degree) make it easier to reach pipe in cramped areas.
Variations of Straight Wrenches
• The compound-leverage pipe wrench is designed to increase the leverage that can be applied on a pipe.
• The chain wrench has a length of chain permanently attached to the wrench handle at one end.
Pipe tongs are the wrenches typically used on large pipes. Pipe tongs also have chains, which need to be oiled frequently. They provide extra leverage needed for tougher, more heavy-duty jobs.
The strap wrench is used to hold chrome-plated or other types of finished pipe.
The spud wrench is similar to a pipe wrench, except that it has no teeth in its jaws. Spud wrenches loosen and tighten fittings on drain traps, sink strainers and toilet connections, and are also used on large, oddly shaped nuts.
The open-end wrench usually has two different-sized openings, each on one end of the tool. This wrench is usually used for assembling fittings and fasteners that are less than 2.54 cm across.
Adjustable wrenches have smooth jaws, making these tools ideal for turning nuts, bolts, small pipe fittings, and chrome-plated pipe fittings. Using an adjustable wrench can save you considerable time.
The basin wrench was developed to work in tight, hard-to-reach areas such as recesses where sink and lavatory faucets are secured.
The monkey wrench is a flat-jawed wrench with one movable jaw that is adjusted by a screw. Because it can fit around various sizes of nuts, this wrench is commonly used when an open-end wrench does not fit properly.
The torque wrench has a gauge attached to it, which indicates the torque -- the force being applied to the work piece. This wrench is known for its accuracy and reliability.
Pliers are a type of adjustable wrench and are used for bending, gripping, and holding. Some pliers can also be used to cut wires.
Pliers come in many different head styles, depending on their use. Do not use pliers on exposed pipes or fasteners, because they will leave jaw marks.
The next slide presents some common types of pliers used by plumbers.
Slip-joint pliers are very popular. They are used for bending wire and for gripping and holding during assembly operations.
Slip-lock pliers work on the same principle as slip-joint pliers, but their jaws have five or more adjustments. Slip-lock pliers can hold much larger materials than channel-lock pliers.
Do not use slip-lock pliers to hold small materials because the jaws cannot be adjusted flat against each other.
Locking pliers are handy, adjustable pliers can be used both as pliers and as a hand-held vise or clamp. They are also known as pliers wrench.
Lineman’s pliers, also known as side cutters, have wider jaws than slip-joint pliers. Lineman’s plies are used mainly for cutting heavy or large-gauge wire and for holding.
Plumbers, like all other skilled workers in the construction profession, use hammers.
There are many types of hammers, including claw hammers, ball-peen hammers, sledgehammers, and mauls. Hammers come in many sizes and with different types of handles.
A hammer's weight is determined by the weight of its head.
Guidelines to Working with Hammers
• Always wear eye protection when using a hammer.
• Check to make sure handles are securely wedged onto the hammer head before use.
• Do not use hammers that have cracked, splintered, or badly worn handles.
• Never strike one hammer face with or against another hammer or a hatchet.
• Never strike nail pullers, steel chisels, or other hardened objects with a nail hammer, because the face of the hammer may chip. Nail hammers are intended for driving or pulling common, unhardened nails only.
Types of Hammers
Click on each type of hammer to know its features:
The most common type of hammer is the carpenter’s curved claw hammer.
The hammer’s head has a face for striking nails and, on the opposite side of the hammer head, a two-pronged claw for pulling nails. The head is made of steel.
A sledgehammer is a particularly heavy hammer. This heavy-duty tool is used for driving posts or other large stakes. It can also be used for breaking up cast iron or concrete.
The head of the sledgehammer is made of high-carbon steel. The shape of the sledgehammer’s head and the length of its handle depend on the job it is designed to do.
Always wear eye protection when using a sledgehammer, and make sure the handle is securely wedged to the sledgehammer’s head.
Mauls are designed for splitting wood and are also used along with wood-splitting wedges.
When using a wedge with a maul, first make a notch with the splitting edge, and then drive the wedge with the maul’s striking face.
Never use mauls to strike concrete, metal, or other hard materials.
Screwdrivers are used to install and remove a wide variety of screws.
Because of the wide variety of screws available, there are many types of screwdriver blades and handle.
The screwdriver’s handle is most often bulb-shaped and made of wood or plastic. The length of its blade and the width of its tip determine a screwdriver’s size.
A nut driver is similar to a screwdriver. Instead of a blade, the nut driver has a socket end for tightening hex-head screws and bolts. It comes in all bolt sizes.
Some screwdrivers come with interchangeable bits. You simply remove one bit from the end of the shank and replace it with another bit. The bits are stored in the handle of the screwdriver.
Vises are holding tools.
Plumbing jobs such as cutting, threading, and reaming would be difficult without a vise to hold the work piece secure. The vise permits a person to do work that otherwise would require two people.
The next slide presents a few common types of vises used by plumbers.
Standard Yoke Vise
The standard yoke is probably the most common vise used by plumbers. Its jaws hold the pipe firmly and prevent it from turning. Because the teeth of the yoke vise usually leave marks on the material, use it only with pipes that will not be exposed.
Chain Pipe Vise
The chain pipe vise is used in the same way as the standard yoke vise, but the chain vise can hold much larger pieces of pipe. The chain must be kept oiled or it will become stiff, thereby damaging the operation of the chain vise.
The bench vise has two sets of jaws: one to hold flat work and another to hold pipe. Rotating the T-handle screw tightens or loosens the vise. You will not see this vise very often on the job site, but you might find it mounted in some plumbing trucks.
A plumber is often called upon to choose the right combination of pipes, pumps, filters, and associated devices. This is especially done if plumbers are required to participate in the design and construction of sewage or water systems for new construction or renovations to systems for existing structures.
Plumbers will need to make quick calculations when doing other jobs as well, so it is important that they should carry a calculator.
Types of Calculators
The traditional battery-powered, handheld calculator helps one to do basic math problems.
Specialized calculators, on the other hand, can help plumbers to perform many types of construction calculations.