Everything You Need to Build a Basic Plumber’s Kit

December 14, 2010 | by Fred (email) |

Looking for a creative gift idea for the home improver in your life? Last year, Ethan came up with a list of handyman gifts that are easy to purchase online and will ship in time for the holiday. Here’s another idea we think many handymen (and handywomen!) might enjoy – a basic plumbing tool kit. You can build the kit for about $40-$50 from the local big box department store.

Why a plumbing kit? We always like receiving practical gifts that show a little thought, and this one certainly does. You’ll have to assemble the pieces yourself (we haven’t seen any pre-made plumber’s gift baskets at Hallmark!) Plus, you’ll be giving a gift that will encourage your DIYer to take on a new task! This stuff isn’t hard to find, either. It’s usually organized in a single isle at the store.

But you say your handyman’s never done plumbing? You could also pick up a plumbing primer while you’re at the store… or he could start by reading our article on how to sweat copper pipes (it’s really easier than most people think!)

Basic Plumbing Tools

Here’s a picture of the tools you’ll need to get:


  • Propane tank & torch – The Bernzomatic version shown is a little pricey at $25. You can usually find the piece parts (a regulator and the propane tank) for $10-15.
  • Silver Plumbing Solder – Sold by the pound… buying more gets you a cheaper unit rate.
  • Pipe Cleaner (1/2″ and 3/4″ Combo) – Used for cleaning the inside and outside of pipes.
  • Plumber’s Flux and Brush – Used just before soldering to draw the solder into the joint.
  • Pipe Cutter (3/4″ and 1/2″) – Self-explanatory.  We like the low-profile version shown here so that it can fit on pipes next to walls.
  • Teflon Plumber’s Tape – Used to make threaded connections (instead of solder).
  • Abrasive Cloth – Used to remove burs from the edges of pipes.
  • Plumber’s Putty – Used to seal some fixtures (not shown)
  • Hacksaw – Good for cutting PVC (not shown)
  • PVC Primer and Bonding Agent – Used to join PVC (not shown)

In addition to these basic tools, you could also pick up a small tool box (or tool tote!), and a good plumbing manual, like Stanley’s Complete Plumbing, one that we’ve mentioned several times.

What do you think? What DIY gift do you want to get this year?

20 Responses
  1. Keith says:

    Great list Fred. One thing I would add to this list would be a hacksaw (I prefer a cordless sawzall but they can be expensive) for doing PVC drain pipe repairs.

    Also, plumbers putty is a good inexpensive item to add to a plumbers toolkit gift.

    Just a couple of suggestions….

  2. Robert says:

    Can you or anyone recommend a good snake or auger? Electric or hand crank….

    As a landlord, and in the last few years, I’ve had more and more tenants clog their bath drains, mainly due to hair–women’s hair.


  3. Fred says:

    Hey Robert, For minor stuff, we keep a 25 foot hand-cranked model in the garage. For the worst offenses, we’ve actually rented a heavy duty model from Home Depot. I will say that those are the dirtiest, most disgusting tools THD carries. We wore two layers of gloves while working with it. You can imagine why.

  4. Bill Packard says:

    Hey guys, if a plumber billed you for labor from the time being he left his shop and stopped off to rent a trenching machine then came to your property would you pay it, considering it was over a hour befdore he got to your place..

  5. Fred says:

    Bill, was the trenching machine specifically for your job, and did he tell you what time would be included in the call? Plumbers in our area do charge for time to travel to the property and time to obtain materials and/or specialized tools for the job. Question would be whether the trench tool should have been reasonably expected to be in their equipment portfolio, and whether you knew ahead of time what you were going to be charged for… Seems to me like an hour is a little long, unless they had to go way out of the way for the tool or you live in a remote location. Usually we see charges of around 30 minutes for travel around us.

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