I met Shem on a recent visit to the UK, about 3 months ago. We got to talking about what we do and, inevitably, the topic of tools came up. I, being the multi-tool geek I am, was thrilled to hear that that Sham is no stranger to the topic and there’s actually one is his toolbox. That’s when we scheduled to d this interview…I’ll let Shem do the rest of the talking.
1. Please, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, my name is Shame Bruce and I’ve been a professional plumber for the last 5 years. I was born and raised in Croydon and my family is from the south east parts of London. My father was a plumber himself and as I child I was constantly around him so that’s how, later-on, he helped me get a job at the Fantastic Plumbers team in London.
2. How did you end up as part of the Fantastic Plumbers team?
A: In the beginning of my career, I was pretty much what we call today a neighborhood plumber. After my dad retired, I became a one-man local operation. People from the nearby neighborhoods would find out that my father is no longer in business from their friends and family. However, there came a point when I couldn’t handle my phone ringing 20 times a day. That’s when I realised that needed I drastic change in how operated. Later on I found out about this company and I applied to join the team. And here I am today.
3. Can you tell us a little bit about the various plumbing jobs that you handle?
A: Well, I am a plumber from A to Z so I can handle all sorts of repairs and installations. I can fix dripping taps and repair faulty showers, I can unblock a drain and so on. On the other hand, I can also do replacement of basins and sinks, fix leaky pipes, install or repair a bathroom and the list goes on.
4. What kind of tools do you use?
A: I have all sorts of wrenches, screwdrivers, tube and pipe cutters. In addition, I usually bring a drill and a hole-making tool to every job along with plungers, some Teflon tape and a tape measure. For some of the heftier jobs I also drill and hole-making gear.
5. Please share a few jobs where the multi-tool was an invaluable asset for you?
A: I always carry mine while at the job. I’ll either cut, unwind, use my saw for a stubborn kitchen sink, or as a splitter when having to remove tile boards.
6. Do you have any tricks up your sleeve? Share something useful to the novice plumbers & amateurs out there.
A: Hmm, let’s see. So, imagine that you have to remove a soldered pipe. Naturally, your first thought is to cut it. But in some cases you can’t do that because it would leave it much shorter and you won’t be able to restore the connection. In other cases there simply isn’t enough space for you to use the cutting tool. Here’s what you can try instead: use your blowtorch to melt the solder and pull off the fitting. Wipe the melted solder away with a disposal cloth (make sure to wear protective gloves) and then you can place the new fitting.
Another useful tip I can think of right now is to use plastic drain lines instead of metal ones. Sure, at a glance metal seems better but plastic simply better. First of all, it is way cheaper and easy to place. On the other hand, adjustments and tightening is a piece of cake if a leak happens.
7. In what other ways do you use your multi-tool besides all the plumbing work?
A: Hah, well, I have to admit that it comes in handy when you just want to kick back with a bottle of beer and watch a football game. But in all seriousness, it is useful in every single situation you can think of. I even take it with me when I’m going camping with my buddies.
8. What is the best use for your multi-tool?
A: Personally, I keep it in my bag and bring it almost everywhere I go. I use it for anything from opening a beer to fix the lighting fixtures at home.
9. What is your message to our readers?
A: Well, I guess I would like to say that every plumbing issue is like a toothache. It is not going away on its own. A leaky pipe is a little annoyance at first. And one day the small leak turns into a big leak. And then you have to deal with all the damage control. So you better take things into your own hands and have the issue fixed before you face a real mess.
More interviews in the works
Interview with Shem opened a whole new field that I haven’t really explored so far – if/how professionals use my favorite pieces. You’ll see them added to the interviews section of the site.