PVC Pipes are incredibly useful but, more often than not, they are purchased without having been pre-cut to your desired length. It is frustrating when you need to cut your PVC down to length for a specific purpose but don’t have the right tools to do the cutting.
No matter what the situation or purpose is, you should never use a table saw to cut a PVC pipe. This is because of the way a table saw is designed; it is built with a flat surface in order to minimize the amount of effort needed to cut wood, which makes it ineffective on PVC pipes.
Using a table saw to cut a PVC pipe can result in serious injury to whoever is doing the sawing and those in close proximity to the cutting job. The same is true for band saws and regular wood saws; so, if you need to cut a PVC pipe, you must use a different saw or tool.
If you need to cut a PVC pipe, alternatives to using a table saw include:
- Plastic Pipe Cutter
- Electric Miter Saw
- Hand Saw
In this article, I will go over the basics of these three tools so that you can cut a PVC pipe without hurting you or anyone else. I will discuss how you can use each of these three tools to cut a PVC pipe much better than you could with a table saw.
How To Use A Plastic Pipe Cutter for PVC Pipes
Odds are you do not have a plastic pipe cutter laying somewhere in the house, so this tool can be a tad inconvenient; but, when it comes to cutting PVC pipes, this tool is by far the safest and cleanest out the three tools discussed in this article.
The reason for this is all in the name – it’s called a pipe cutter for a reason. It’s made to cut pipes, which obviously includes PVC pipes.
It is also incredibly easy to use, especially when you compare it to an electric miter saw or hand saw. So, if you’re willing to take a trip down to your local Home Depot, this is a fantastic option to cut your PVC pipe.
They typically cost around $10 USD, which is probably about as much as you spent on the PVC pipe itself. If you are making a trip to a hardware store to get a PVC pipe, you might as well pick up this tool as well. It will make your ‘PVC cutting experience’ a whole lot easier.
Plastic Pipe Cutters work so well thanks to their design. They feature a sharp metal blade, about a half an inch or so thick, that works to cut through a pipe in a way that is much more effective than regular saw.
The cutters look very similar to a wrench… a wrench with a blade attached, that is. You basically clamp down on the pipe the same way you would a wrench on a saw and, once the blade is through the pipe, you continue squeezing the handles while rotating the pipe. Once you have completed a full circle of the process, your PVC pipe is cut! Easy as that.
Alternatively, there is variation of the traditional Rotating Pipe Cutter – it’s called a Ratcheting Pipe Cutter. It’s somewhat easier to use than the basic model.
The Ratcheting Pipe Cutter is better for PVC pipes that have a larger diameter in size. It is also more effective, although slightly more expensive. That said, you are paying for an simpler (and safer) cutting process.
It works by use of the ‘ratchet’ built into the cutter. Instead of having to stick the blade in and rotate the pipe while clamping down, all you need to do is clamp it down once, making sure the blade is securely through the pipe until it appears on the other side. Then, thanks to the ratchet part of the cutter, simply release and clamp down again – do this repeatedly until the pipe is fully cut.
As mentioned, this tool is the best way to cut a PVC pipe. The only drawback is that it takes some hand power – the continuous ‘clamping down’ action can hurt your palms, especially if you are cutting a particularly thick PVC pipe. You might want to wear gloves to prevent this and make the entire process easier.
Make sure to be careful of the blade on the cutter. It is much smaller than a saw’s blade is, but just as sharp.
Although the Plastic Pipe Cutter is the best tool to use for cutting PVC pipes, sometimes it is easier to use tools that you already have in the house.
So, let’s take a look at the Electric Miter Saw and Hand Saw.
How To Cut A PVC Pipe With An Electric Miter Saw
An Electric Miter Saw is easily the fastest way to cut a PVC Pipe, as it is the fastest way for almost any material you use this electric tool for. But, because of its power and its effectiveness, that also means it is very dangerous and can result in serious injury if used incorrectly.
These saws can cost $100’s or even $1000’s when purchased new. For that reason, unless you already have one at your house or site, you would be better advised to purchase a Plastic Pipe Cutter or a regular saw.
This power tool is one of the most commonly used for heavy duty jobs. When it comes to cutting a PVC pipe, an electric miter saw might be considered ‘overkill’ by some, although if you already have one laying around the house but don’t have a Plastic Pipe Cutter then there is no reason not to use it. Alternatively, maybe you have a ton of PVC pipe to cut and you need to get through the job quickly; in that case, perhaps using an electric saw is worth the risk.
So, if you’re going to use the Electric Miter Saw to cut a PVC pipe, here are some precautions you need to take:
- If you are under 18 years old, make sure you are supervised by someone who knows what they are doing.
- Always wear gloves and protective eyewear.
- Ensure both the PVC Pipe and the miter saw are clamped down securely.
As long as you are aware you are using a seriously heavy-duty power tool and have taken the proper safety measures, the actual cutting is very fast and simple; line up the pipe with the saw and turn the machine on, lowering it slowly to cut the pipe.
It should take about 5 seconds total.
If you have neither a Plastic Pipe Cutter nor an Electric Miter Saw, a regular hand saw will do the trick.
How To Cut A PVC Pipe With A Hand Saw
Cutting a PVC Pipe with a hand saw is not ideal, but by all means, it is just fine. Although not as safe as using a Plastic Pipe Cutter nor as fast as using an Electric Miter Saw, if it’s all you have at your house then there really is no need to buy any other tool.
First, make sure that you know how to use a hand saw properly. If not, it is important that you either get help from someone else who does know how to use it or teach yourself on a different material. Cutting a PVC pipe with a regular hand saw can be difficult and, while not as dangerous as any electric saw, can still cause serious injury if done incorrectly.
The first step is clamping down the PVC pipe – it must be secure before you start sawing. Otherwise, it will be more difficult to make an even cut and can be harder to cut all the way through. We suggest marking a straight line around the circumference of the pipe so you know exactly how to cut the pipe.
Once the PVC pipe is secure, simply ‘saw’ back and forth until it is completely cut. Due to the nature of a hand saw, the end of the pipe will likely have rock-hard parts called ‘burrs’ that need to be chopped off. This can be done with a hammer or similar blunt object.
After that, you will have a perfectly cut PVC pipe. You can repeat this process over and over again, as much as needed.
No matter what you decide to use to cut your PVC pipe down to size, make sure to refrain from using a table saw. Any of the three tools discussed in this article are perfect for cutting PVC Pipes and, as long as you take the necessary precautions, are perfectly safe.