How To Cut PVC Pipe As Pro

How to Cut PVC Pipe as Pro!

Anthony Barnes

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It doesn’t matter whether you’re a repairman or a typical homeowner, there may come a time when you want to cut some PVC piping. If you’re not familiar with this process, then you may find it quite annoying.

Because of this, it is important that people learn how to cut their PVC piping the correct way. 

A PVC pipe is a tube made out of plastic that varies in length. It is used usually for draining and plumbing.

You may have noticed some pipes in the basements of residential homes that are covered in purple primer, these pipes are probably made of PVC. 

If you are unsure of methods of cutting PVC piping then follow this guide. This article will easily guide you through the various methods of cutting PVC pipes. 

Things To Prepare

Before you cut PVC piping, you must prepare some things. It is important to know where to start, especially if you are cutting at home.

Here is a simple guide of what you need to prepare before you start cutting your PVC piping. 

Firstly, you need to find the right tools to lubricate the pipe. This makes sure that the cutting method is easier as well as lowers the amount of friction that is caused by the blade cutting through the PVC pipe.

When picking the right lubricant make sure that it is oil-based as silicone-based lubricants can pollute the air around you. If you do need to use a silicone lubricant, make sure to wear a mask. 

As well as this, you will also need a bucket. This will help you keep the pipe in the right place. Ensure that you have a big enough bucket where you can cut two ‘v-slits’ out of the top of the bucket. 

Alongside these preparations, you will also need to take some safety measures. The cutting tools that you’ll be using are quite dangerous. So, make sure you are wearing the correct protective gear to avoid injury. 

Cutting PVC Piping

There are several methods for cutting PVC piping (see also ‘How To Connect A PVC Pipe‘) correctly. The one you use will depend on your personal preferences and it will also depend on what cut you are required to make.

We will go through the tools you need to cut a PVC pipe. 

You will find some of these tools in basic DIY kits and they will also be found in most handiwork loving garages. The other tools are specifically made for cutting PVC and so may be harder to come by. 

The basic tools: 

  • Miter box
  • Miter saw
  • Handsaw
  • Hacksaw
  • Utility knife

The specialized cutting tools are: 

  • PVC cutters
  • Ratchet-style cutters
  • Scissor-style cutters
  • Tube cutters

Next, let’s have a look at the most common cutting method for PVC piping as well as a guide throughout the process. 

Using A Handsaw To Cut PVC Pipe

The most used method of cutting a PVC pipe is by using a handsaw. Handsaws can cut through almost anything.

Using this method may not give you the straightest cut through the pipe and you should definitely make sure that you move slowly when using the blade. 

You should never push the blade too fast into the pipe as this will definitely make an uneven cut.

If you use the bucket method as we discussed in the preparations section, then this will help keep the PVC pipe in the right place. 

Handsaws are particularly useful for cutting PVC piping lengthways. It may take a while, but it will be much more controlled than using other tools. 

Using A Miter Saw To Cut PVC Pipe

Using a miter saw to cut your PVC pipe will give you a much straighter cut. So, if that’s what you’re after, then this is probably your best choice.

Miter saws are assured to give perfectly straight cuts due to the programmed preset angles. These presets mean that using a miter saw is the easiest way to cut your PVC piping. 

All you need to do is make sure that the pipe is placed on the edge of the saw in order to make the cut visible. Once that’s done, you can line the blade up with the mark, and then saw carefully. 

Lower the edge of the blade into the pipe until it is completely cut. You can use this method to cut your PVC pipe lengthwise or even on an angle.

If you are unsuccessful at fully cutting through the pipe, then make sure to turn the pipe over and cut down the line again. 

Do not turn the PVC pipe whilst the machine is still running as this can cause injury. This will also make your cut inaccurate. 

How to Cut PVC Pipe as Pro! (1)

Using PVC Cutters To Cut PVC Pipe

As you may have guessed, PVC cutters are commonly used to slice PVC piping. This is the safest method and will not require you to use much force to achieve it. 

The downside to PVC cutters is that they are only made to cut thin pieces of PVC. If you want to cut a PVC pipe that is thicker than 2 inches, then this tool probably won’t work for you.

You can buy larger PVC cutters, but these are also only made to cut PVC piping thinner than two inches.

Bearing this in mind, PVC cutters are the best option for smaller pieces of PVC piping used in smaller projects. If you need to cut piping for plumbing, then this tool isn’t the best option. 

Cutting PVC Pipe With Sawzall

If you’re familiar with handiwork and DIY projects, you may already know the ways to cut PVC piping using Sawzall. But, cutting it straight can be difficult to achieve. 

First, you need to ensure that you are pressing firmly on the blade as it is against the PVC pipe. If you use more pressure then the Sawzall will vibrate less. You will soon find a speed that is best for you. 

If you squeeze tighter then the blade will speed up. You must start slow so that you can find the best speed for you as you go on.

To make it easier, you can use a smaller Sawzall. These are easier to handle and the blade is shorter. Shorter blades are usually more stable than longer blades. 

Using String To Cut PVC Pipe

You probably never envisioned that you would be able to cut through PVC piping using string. Well, we’re here to tell you that you can.

It does take a lot more time compared to other methods, but if you’re unable to access a saw then this method may be worth a shot. 

If you don’t own a saw, try this method. Firstly, you need to use a sharp utility knife to cut into the PVC piping.

Next, take some string made of nylon and move it forward and backward quickly over the cut you’ve just made using the utility knife. 

PVC piping is made from quite soft plastic and so the friction of the nylon string on the soft plastic can be enough to cut entirely through.

You must bear in mind that this process isn’t very accurate and you may not end up with a straight cut. But, it can be a fun method to try if you think you’re up to it. 

Deburring

An optional way of cutting a PVC pipe is via deburring, also known as cleaning burrs. As with most methods that don’t use saws, this method won’t be very accurate. This is particularly true if you are a newbie. 

Deburring is a great way to finish off projects. It is highly recommended that you deburr the piping to avoid any damage. Some burrs will ruin a flawless fit, especially if you are fitting pipes for plumbing. 

You can deburr a pipe using a sharp utility knife. To do this, you simply need to drive the knife across the edges until it is smooth.

Before you do this, try to fill the PVC pipe with cloth in order to stop the burrs from falling inside. 

Another method of deburring is by using sandpaper. If the cut you have made isn’t as straight as you’d like it to be then you can sand the edges down to make them straighter.

It is recommended that you deburr the edges of your piping after you have cut them to ensure that your cut is smooth and accurate. 

Deburring isn’t mandatory for cutting a PVC pipe, but it is definitely recommended, especially for bigger projects, such as plumbing. Plumbing pipes should have smooth edges where you can achieve them. 

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, these methods will work for you.

They are easy to follow and great tools to use in case you need to do any DIY projects such as replacing leaky PVC piping. All you’ll need is a little practice to be able to master these methods. 

Make sure you choose the right tool and method for you and your project needs. 

Remember, it is important to wear the correct protective equipment and to be mindful when using sharp tools. Saws and other sharp objects can cause terrible damage. It is better to be safe than sorry, no matter the size of the pipe. 

If you don’t manage to do it correctly the first time, don’t worry, it will take time.

We hope that some of these methods and tricks are helpful with your PVC handiwork. If you are still struggling with the work, make sure to take the job to a professional for guidance and even more tips and tricks!

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age