Have you ever noticed how a little context can make a big difference? If we got caught cheating in school, we’d go straight to the principal’s office. But today if I run into a tough fitting that just won’t budge, I’m supposed to cheat. Go figure! I’m talking, of course, about the industry-first Milwaukee Cheater pipe wrench.
Milwaukee has already found ways to improve upon the usually-static tools of my trade with overbite jaws, dual springs, and aluminum materials. You may have read about those things in my recent review of the Milwaukee 18-inch aluminum pipe wrench.
Milwaukee Cheater First Impressions
The Milwaukee Cheater pipe wrench set out to replace several wrenches at once. It provides a solution to the common pipe-over-handle leverage workaround. I had a galvanized kitchen waste arm—under some cabinets and in a wall—that needed some extra encouragement. I also had some other seized fittings. The Milwaukee Cheater Pipe Wrench was the right tool for those jobs—at least on paper.
The stand-out feature of the Milwaukee Cheater pipe wrench is the interchangeable handle system. It takes the wrench with no handle from 10 inches to 18 inches with the short handle and then again to 24 inches with the long handle. Besides providing a great deal of leverage, it can replace multiple wrenches.
Milwaukee Cheater Pipe Wrench Jaws
It has the same overbite jaw that I liked on the Milwaukee 18-inch aluminum pipe wrench but it is noticeably thinner. Milwaukee designed it this way because sometimes you often need the Cheater in tight spaces. So even though it doesn’t look like the beefy jaw of the standard wrenches, there’s a purpose for the size. It also has a dual spring system that allows the teeth to grip and reset easily.
Finally, a welcome advantage of the jaw capacity is the ability to not just get around 2.5-inch pipe but around 2.5-inch fittings. That’s important because smaller wrenches specced with a 2.5-inch outside diameter can’t get around 2.5-inch fittings even if they can get around 2.5-inch pipe. You’ll find yourself in need of the next wrench size to get around the fittings. But that’s unnecessary with the Milwaukee Cheater pipe wrench.
Cheater Bar vs Milwaukee
I would normally use a standard wrench for the waste arm removal by contorting myself into the cabinet and using whatever room I could to maneuver. You get an advantage with a long-handled wrench, however. Even when the fitting isn’t seized, I can operate it much more comfortably from outside the cabinet. The Milwaukee Cheater pipe wrench handled this job and several others like it with ease.
When a plumber encounters a tough fitting on the jobsite, it’s very common to put pipe over the handle of a wrench to lengthen it and gain more leverage. This can damage the threads on the pipe and it doesn’t do your wrench any good, either.
The Milwaukee Cheater Pipe Wrench solves this problem with the handle extensions. The extensions don’t connect together, but the longest form – 24 inches – will cover most of your hardest-to-break connections.
NPT Threads for Even More
However, if you find you still need more, the threads are NPT so you can just thread in 3/4-inch black steel or galvanized to make the handle as long as you’d like. This is really nice advantage of the wrench. But remember, with great power comes great responsibility – and weak pipes can get crushed with lots of leverage.
There’s also no reason to bottom out the threads of a fitting, either. On the other hand, the Cheater wrench can be the safer tool – one of our guys just partially tore a bicep straining on a tough fitting.
You don’t need the Cheater as often as your regular wrenches, but the interchangeable handles do allow you to replace several of your wrenches with one, so you may choose to carry just this wrench instead of a bunch of them. In fact, the versatility of the handle system is my favorite part about this tool.
An Aluminum Cheater Wrench?
Some might say this would just be better in an aluminum version, but having the weight behind the cheater feels better to me. The wrench components are steel – obviously the heavier material choice – yet the hollow handle extensions keep it light enough to work with for long periods.
Pro Tip: Even with a cheater bar, consider heating up the pipe with a torch to keep from crushing it with the big leverage. The heat expands the metal and when it cools, it can break loose the scaling inside the threads causing it to seize.
The thin, overbite jaw and dual springs are excellent. You don’t have to jiggle or knock the pipe loose after a tough turn – the wrench is always ready for another bite.
A riveted pin holds the bottom teeth in but it doesn’t look like you can knock it out to replace the teeth. These teeth will eventually get worn down, so it would be nice to see an option to remove the pin and replace them much like you can with cutting wheel of Milwaukee’s 1-inch Mini Copper Tubing Cutter.
I liked everything about the Milwaukee Cheater Pipe Wrench. My fellow plumbers at Curry and Company are constantly asking to borrow it.
It can handle the toughest 2.5-inch pipe and fittings and if you happened to come across something it couldn’t break loose, the NPT thread allows you to make the handle as long as you need. The thin, overbite jaws can fit in the tight spots where you often need more leverage.
I’d love the ability to knock the pin out of the bottom teeth and replace them when they wear down. I personally think it’s a tad pricey at $99, but I’d still recommend it for its ability to replace several wrenches and to get you out of a pinch when other wrenches can’t.
Milwaukee Cheater Pipe Wrench Features
- 3 length design – 10-, 18-, and 24-inch with interchangeable handles
- Overbite jaw
- Dual coil springs
- Ergonomic handle form
- Ergonomic hook jaw design
- Through hardened jaws
- Tether-ready handle loop
- Steel construction
- Weight: 6.6 pounds
- Price: $99