How to Use Harbor Freight Pipe Threader: Step-to-Step Guide

Pipe threading is an essential step when joining two pieces of metal pipes or creating an end. The pipe threader is usually the most commonly used tool as it comes in various sizes and is better than buying a factory-threaded pipe. The most preferred store for this tool is Harbor Freight.

The Harbor Freight pipe threaders are electrical or manual. To work with both, first fit a die head the same size as your pipe. Press and hold the power switch so the die can cut through the metal when using the electrical threader. For the manual one, ratchet repeatedly until you achieve the desired length.

Working with the pipe threader is not complicated and doesn’t favor professionals only. Read on to learn how to use this tool and learn more, including its pros and cons.

What Is a Harbor Freight Pipe Threader

A harbor freight pipe threader is a device that is used on metal pipes to cut threads on them. The die header on the threader contains threading teeth that cut through the metal pipes.

The Harbor Freight pipe threader belongs to the Harbor Freight store. However, the power tool is also available from other brands. However, Harbor Freight pipe threader is usually the much-preferred brand due to the quality and pricing of these and other power tools.

Harbor Freight Pipe Threader

Harbor Freight is a privatized vendor of tools with its headquarters in California, USA. It was founded in 1977 by Eric and Allan Smidt in Los Angeles, but it is now widespread in over 1300 locations across the US.

Types of Harbor Freight Pipe Threaders

There are two types of Harbor Freight pipe threaders, with their main difference being their energy source. They include

1. Mechanical pipe threader

The mechanical harbor freight pipe threader uses the user’s hand effort to cut a thread into a pipe. The threader includes a ratchet system in the pipe handle that improves cutting. The mechanical threader item numbers include #62354, #30027, and #94101.

The Harbor Freight pipe threader comes in three parts. A handle pipe comes in two pieces, and the header where it’s attached. These parts have threads on their ends used to attach them. It also has three to six die threads depending on the one you buy.

The ratcheting handle can work in both ways, which is convenient when loosening the die head. The reversing knob on the upper part of the ratcheting threader handle changes the ratchet’s direction.

2. Electric pipe threader

The electric Harbor Freight pipe uses electrical power to turn the motor, and the thread dies. An example of this tool is a Portable electric pipe threader pipe number #62203 or #58475.

The electric pipe threader doesn’t come in many parts, but it contains several sizes of dies. However, it is also bought with a pipe clamp to hold the threader in position while it works. The threader works on 12 Amp power.

How to Use a Harbor Freight Pipe Threader?

The harbor freight pipe threader requires a setup before it begins working. The setup work depends on the type of pipe threader used, with the mechanical one requiring more labor than the electric.

Setting Up the Mechanical Pipe Threader

Follow the steps below to set up a mechanical ratcheting pipe threader;

  1. Take out the two sets of handles and screw the longer part with the sleeve into the smaller one.
  2. Screw the now longer handle to the ratchet holder.
  3. Select the suitable die and couple it together.

Setting Up the Electrical Pipe Threader

Follow the steps below to set up an electric harbor freight pipe

  1. Assuming your pipe is already on a vise, attach the clamp on the pipe such that its clamp rod extends to the tip.
  2. Attach a suitable diameter die to the die holder.
  3. Slide the threader in position on the pipe, ensuring the clamp rod goes through the clamp rod slot on the threader.

Safety Precautions Before Using the Threaders

With the setup procedures complete, you can begin threading the pipe with the tool. However, there are a few safety precautions to take, as listed below.

  • Wear protective gloves and glasses.
  • Ensure the working area is well light.
  • Avoid damp surfaces, especially when working with the electric threader.
  • Ensure you set up a pad or bowl where excess oil will spill into
  • Secure the pipe tightly with a vise so it can’t roll when being threaded.

Using the Electrical Harbor Freight Pipe Threader

After you’re done with the safety procedures, follow the steps below to thread a pipe, beginning with the electric threader.

  • Step 1: Connect the power cord to a three-pin plug on the extension.
  • Step 2: Set the position of the die at the very beginning part of the pipe.
  • Step 3: Ensure the dies will rotate in the right direction.
  • Step 4: Add thread-cutting oil using the provided can.
  • Step 5: Press and hold the trigger with one hand with the other one on the front handle
  • Step 6: Add more oil as you continue threading
  • Step 7: Use the start-stop-re-lube-restart technique to avoid thread damage
  • Step 8: When done, reverse the threader to remove it from the pipe
  • Step 9: Clean and polish the newly formed threads.

Using the Mechanical Harbor Freight Pipe Threader

For the mechanical pipe threader, follow the steps below;

  • Step 1: Attach the threader to the pipe from the side of the ratchet holder, not the die
  • Step 2: Add some oil to the pipe you’re about to work on through the holes on the die.
  • Step 3: Apply pressure on the end of the die with your hand and push down the handle to start cutting the threads.
  • Step 4: When threads begin clogging the die, it will get harder to turn.
  • Step 5: Reverse a quarter turn backward, then stop and remove metal shavings using a suitable metal piece, like a screwdriver. You can also blow using an air compressor.
  • Step 6: Continue to ratchet the die head until you achieve the desired length.
  • Step 7: Reverse the ratchet direction using the reversing knob and remove it.

How Does a Harbor Freight Pipe Threader Work?

The pipe threader works straightforwardly in both mechanical and electric options. The die header contains the teeth that cut into a pipe as it rotates around it. As the motor turns on the electric metal, or you turn the threader with your hand, the die rotates, forming grooves.

Once these grooves are formed, the threader is removed, and the part and the other part are added. The threader can only make the grooves on the exterior part of the pipe.

Why Are Pipe Threaders Important?

Pipe threaders have several advantages. They are as follows.

  1. Pipe threaders enable the user to work on the pipes on the site without the need to pre-threaded manufactured pipes. Threaders increase speed and productivity.
  2. The threads created by the threaders ensure a mechanical seal between the two pipes. This type of seal is gas and liquid proof making them ideal for liquid and gas pipes.

Harbor Freight Pipe Threader: Advantage and Disadvantages

As mentioned before, harbor freight is among the most commonly used stores for pipe threaders. However, it also has a few disadvantages, as all tools do. The following are the pros and cons of Harbor Freight Pipe.


The following are the pros of using harbor freight pipe threader;

  1. Cheap: Like most tools in Harbor Freight stores, the pipe is cheaper compared to other brands. The electric pipe threader costs $200 in their stores, while the ratcheting set costs between $50 and $120, depending on the number of dies.
  2. Easy to Use: The tools are easy to use and don’t require lots of experience threading pipes. The provided user manual provides a detailed guide that most users can easily comprehend.
  3. Variety: The harbor freight pipe also has a variety of dies that suit most pipe sizes. This allows the user to work on different pipe diameters by only switching the die with another.


Following are the cons of using harbor freight pipes

  1. Incompatibility: While the threader fits almost any American pipe size, it doesn’t fit some non-US ones. This can lead to problems for some users while threading the pipes.
  2. Thread Damage: The newly formed threads risk getting damaged if the user threads continuously without stopping. When the threads are damaged, fitting the other pipe is difficult and, sometimes, impossible.

How to Avoid Problems When Using Harbor Freight Pipe Threaders?

Your safety is paramount when interacting with a harbor pipe threader, which is why we’ve prepared the below safety tips.

  1. Use quality formulated thread lube with sulfur and chlorine.
  2. Regularly do maintenance checks for faulty parts before you begin threading.
  3. When replacing worn-out parts, use identical Harbor freight threader tools.
  4. When threading, use the stop-and-go method to ensure chips from metal shaving don’t get long and damaged threads.
  5. Before beginning the process ensure the pipe is well cut to avoid problems.


Whether plumbing or just joining two metal pipes, you will eventually need a pipe threader. Consider shopping at the Harbor Freight store for a cheap and durable threader.

The harbor freight pipe threader is easy to use, following the steps described in the article. Observe all the safety precautions before and while using the machine. Also, regularly do maintenance checks and use identical harbor freight parts for replacement.

Michael is the owner of Michael's Plumbing. He has experience over 15 years solved thousands of plumbing issues. 100% customer satisfaction made him best in this sector. Finally he decided to share his skills, experience and techniques through this PipesYard blog. Hopefully each and every post of this blog will be helpful for people seeking piping help.

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