Improvising a Pipe Wrench

Improvised pipe clamp
Improvised pipe clamp

Using the pressure washer to blast the crud off the propane grill has become an early summer ritual around here. I’d reconfigured the extension pipes to reach up the side of the house, so I started by swapping the connectors around to put a shorter pipe at the handpiece. Surprise: those connectors were firmly affixed and a rubber strap wrench on the pipe lacked enough grip.

Rather than wreck that nice chrome plating with a pipe wrench, I clamped two pieces of scrap plywood in the drill press and poked a half-inch hole right down the midline. Add a dab of rosin to improve traction, crunch everything in the bench vise, and spin the connector off.

Well, that’s the way it went for the first connector, with the PTFE joint tape I remember adding last time around.

The connector on the other end was more recalcitrant, perhaps because it still had the manufacturer’s joint compound in place. It eventually yielded to the gentle persuasion of a propane torch, applying just enough heat to wreck the compound’s grip.

The good thing about a plywood clamp is that I don’t form a deep emotional attachment to it: make one when it’s needed to fit the pipe at hand, don’t worry about a precision fit, regard it as a consumable, and move on.