Essential Tools for Plumbers


A few basic tools take care of many plumbing installations and repairs. Tools essential to common plumbing projects include tools that cut, weld and tighten pipes. Whether you’re running water supply lines or extending drain, vent and waste pipes, become familiar with essential plumbing tools and compile a set that will prepare you to achieve professional results.


  • Wrenches are the bread and butter of the plumbing trade. Wrenches hold, twist and join pipes and pipe fittings. The wrench most frequently associated with plumbing is the pipe wrench. The pipe wrench has a long, straight handle and C-shaped jaw at its end. The jaw adjusts with the turn of a knob, allowing the plumber to slip the tool over pipes of varying diameter. The interior of the pipe wrench’s jaw is covered with teeth that grip rounded objects, such as pipe and tube. Wrenches are essential for tightening threaded plumbing fittings.

Tubing Cutter

  • The tubing cutter is a specially designed hand tool used to create clean cuts through copper water supply pipe. This tool presses a sharpened carbide disc against the pipe’s exterior and, as the tool rotates around the pipe, the disc shears through the pipe’s wall to evenly sever it at a predetermined point. Tubing cutters are available in sizes suitable for cutting copper pipes of every diameter. The clean cuts of a tubing cutter are essential to successful soldering.


  • The plumber’s torch heats copper water supply pipe during the soldering process. The torch is handheld, lightweight and capable of directing its flame into corners and hard-to-reach spots. The torch is essentially a tank of gas, typically propane, with a torch tip attached to its end. The tip allows a plumber to open, close and regulate the flow of gas.

Chain Cutter

  • The chain cutter manually cuts cast iron drain pipes. The chain cutter features a chain of sharp, carbide-coated discs hanging from the end of its straight, axe-like handle. The tool’s operator wraps the chain around a pipe, tightens the chain and pulls to score and break the pipe along the chain’s path. Chain cutters produce a smooth-rimmed cut essential for joining cast iron pipes to fittings.

Plumb Bob

  • The plumb bob allows a plumber to determine and lay out straight vertical lines. The plumb bob hangs a diamond-shaped, metal weight, called a “bob,” from the end of a string line. A plumber holds the string line at an elevated point and drops the bob to the ground. The weight of the bob pulls the line taut and its ultimate position indicates a straight path from the elevated point to the ground below. Straight vertical lines are essential when running pipes from floor to ceiling, such as during vent installation.

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