How to thread a steel pipe

Written by sharyl stockstill
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How to thread a steel pipe
Exposed threads on a pipe are referred to as a male fitting. Threads that are internal are referred to as a female fitting. (Water Pipe with red handle image by Olga Sapegina from

Steel pipe comes in multiple dimensions from as small as 1/4 inch to over 10 inches in diameter. The diameters are standard so that fittings such as elbows and tees will connect properly when a steel pipe is cut and threaded for the connections. This helps to custom design plumbing using steel pipe.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Pipe vice
  • Pipe reamer
  • Dies
  • Lubricant
  • Steel file
  • Cloth

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  1. 1

    Cut the steel pipe to the proper length. The pipe will insert into the fitting about 1/2 inch so be sure to adjust your measurements accordingly. Use the file to de-burr and clean the end of the pipe by removing any rough edges and dirt. This will ensure the pipe will thread smoothly.

  2. 2

    Place the pipe into the pipe vice. A pipe vice is set on a tripod and uses a chain and clamping system to hold the pipe securely in place. Leave several inches of pipe exposed on the end you will be threading to allow room for the spinning of the reamer.

  3. 3

    Select the proper-sized die for your pipe. The die is selected based upon the diameter of the steel pipe. Pipes can be threaded either left handed or right handed. Selection of right-handed or left-handed threads depends upon where the fitting is and how it is located. Attach the die to the pipe reamer.

  4. 4

    Place a few drops of lubricant on the end of the pipe and on the interior of the die. Fit the die onto the end of the pipe. By spinning the reamer around the pipe, the die will slowly cut the threads into the steel pipe. If it becomes difficult to turn the reamer, add more lubrication. You will want to cut approximately 1 inch of thread onto the steel pipe.

  5. 5

    Remove the reamer by spinning it backward to unscrew the die and reamer from the pipe. Check the pipe threads and remove any remaining burrs with the steel file.

Tips and warnings

  • Test fit your pipe and fittings before installing.

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