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How to Cut Plumbing Pipes and Tubing

This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shares his tips for cutting virtually any plumbing pipe.

In this video, This Old House plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey shares tips for cutting virtually any plumbing pipe.

Steps for Cutting Pipes and Tubing:

  1. Use a standard tubing cutter to cut copper pipe.
  2. Tighten the cutter so that its blade just scores the pipe. Rotate the cutter around the pipe.
  3. Slightly tighten the cutter and rotate it around the pipe several times.
  4. Repeat until the blade severs the pipe.
  5. Cut steel pipe with a hacksaw, reciprocating saw, or use a steel-pipe tubing cutter. It works similarly to a copper tubing cutter.
  6. Saw through plastic PVC pipe with carpenter's handsaw, hacksaw, or use PVC pipe handsaw.
  7. Plastic pipe can also be cut with a ratcheting PVC cutter. Ratchet the top handle up and down until the blade slices through the pipe.
  8. To cut PVC pipe below the surface of the floor, use a special PVC blade that mounts in a drill. Run the blade around the inside of the pipe.
  9. Flexible PEX is easily cut with a specially made PEX tubing cutter.
  10. To use a cast-iron pipe cutter, start by slipping the cutting chain around the pipe.
  11. Hook the chain onto the jaw, then ratchet the handle back and forth to snap the pipe in two.

Tools