Inside pipe cutter test summary
It turns out that not all internal pipe cutters are created equal. There are many different brands on the market that promise a lot of different things, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they all work as they are advertised. “Clones” are cheap and easy to make, so they naturally flood the market, and that’s most of what you’ll see on Amazon.
After extensive testing, our clear winner is a patented product called the EzyGrind. You will pay more for this tool but it is a heavy duty product designed for the professional plumber. The EzyGrind has minimal vibration, can cut concrete, comes in 3 1/8″ and 1 1/2″, and can cut most plastics like PVC, HDPE, and ABS pipe without melting the pipe. Check out the EzyGrind here on Amazon.
For a professional plumber, one of the handiest tools that you can add to your collection to make your job much easier is an internal pipe cutter. These plumbing tools are different to other pipe cutters, like a hand operated ratcheting pipe cutter, because they attach to your power drill and orbit the inside of a plastic plumbing assembly.
Considering the nature of plumbing construction and how pipes tend to be embedded in all kinds of structures, you may not always have easy access to the outside of a pipe, so it’s a good idea to invest in some way to cut the pipe from the inside out. An inside PVC pipe cutter is an accurate and efficient plumbing tool for cutting into pipes that are in hard to reach places like inside a wall, or inside concrete.
Many times, this is also the safest way to go, as attempting to use general tools not designed for the job, like an angle grinder, is extremely dangerous and not recommended by most state governments.
Having said that, not all inside PVC pipe cutters are created equal. There are many different brands on the market that promise a lot of different things, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they all work as they are advertised. Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but there’s just about as much cheap generic junk out there as there are legitimate internal pipe cutters that will last you more than a single session. Some of these generic brands include Cobra, Superior, and Ridgid pipe cutter.
The video below demonstrates the generic type of inside pipe cutter commonly found…
The question is, how do you tell the difference?
Looking at plastic pipe cutter ebay reviews helps a bit, but as you probably know, lots of e-commerce sites—including Amazon or ebay—have huge problems with fake reviews. You never really know what you’re actually getting until it shows up at your door and you give it a try.
A better way to evaluate whether something will be worth the money or not is to read what people have to say in niche blogs across the Internet and to pay close attention to who manufactured the tool that you’re considering.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: brand names mean almost nothing. You may see a different name on every one of the pipe cutters that you’re eyeballing on Amazon, but the truth is that most of those pipe cutters are actually exactly the same. No lie, they are the exact same design by the exact same manufacturers in China.
Distributors (called “private label” sellers, in Internet marketing jargon) just slap their own logo on them and call it a brand new tool. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the tool is junk, but just be aware that if you bought one generic PVC pipe cutter and it vibrated all over the place and couldn’t cut itself out of a paper bag, then buying another generic one probably wouldn’t be the best choice, since it was likely made by the same factory, with the same design.
These “clones” are cheap and easy to make, so they naturally flood the market, and that’s most of what you’ll see on Amazon or with the pipe cutters you find in Walmart. Even worse, since the people who sell these tools usually aren’t specialized and don’t know the function of a pipe cutter, they often just make a living distributing random products. They won’t know the first thing about what makes a well-designed pipe cutter tool and they won’t be able to provide any kind of customer service.
Sometimes these clones are relatively inexpensive in price, which is their saving grace, but why spend money on something that might not work right? That’s like flushing money down the toilet. (Which is a plumbing problem in and of itself.) Of course you’re free to do what you like, but in the long run, buying quality plumbing tools will save you more money because you can use them again and again.
Comparing Your Options
Now, let’s take a closer look at the individual products that you can find on Amazon. This way, you can see the products side-by-side and decide for yourself what will work best in your situation. We’re going to compare a few different brands of cutters:
The Cobra PST109 Inside Pipe Cutter
This is one of the more popular brands of the cheap pipe cutters that you can find on Amazon. Reasonably priced and found on several e-commerce platforms, it ranges in price from about $11 to $15 dollars, but can be found on Amazon for $11.38.
When you look around at Cobras other products, they are just random things unrelated to plumbing (radios, battery chargers…), as expected. They’re not really a company dedicated to designing and producing specialized construction equipment, and that’s your first clue that their pipe cutter is pretty generic. As mentioned, that doesn’t have to mean anything, though, so long as it gets the job done.
It has great reviews and plenty of them, so it looks promising at the very least. Most reviewers doing household pipe-cutting jobs said that it works great.
Superior Tool 1-1/4″ Internal PVC Pipe Cutter-One and a Quarter Inch Pipe Cutter for PVC
Another generic offering, this one is also on the cheap side at $12.79. Most reviewers seem to like it, but it doesn’t have much feedback yet. One aspect that a lot of reviewers mentioned was that the teeth of the blades were very sharp, but as you will see below, this is true of most generic inside pipe cutters because they employ similar hardware.
LASCO Metal Inside Plastic Pipe Cutter
Few reviews so far, and a little more expensive at $23.36. Though customers seem to have taken to it favorably, there’s very little information in the description about the cutter and how it works. Again, fairly generic. The company seems to make other plumbing tools, though, so at least they appear to be in the hardware business.
Millrose Plastic Pipe Cutting Bit Quick Cutter
When it comes to reviews on Amazon, the crickets are chirping with this one. It could be because it’s new to the market. Either way, it looks similar to the other “clone” pipe cutters mentioned above and is priced similarly at $12.36.
Reed Tool IC1SL Internal Pipe Cutter with 1.26-Inch Saw Tooth Blade and 7-Inch Shaft
Perhaps this tool is a bit different? At $33.18, one might expect higher quality. According to the one review, though, this tool can’t make a clean cut and jumps all over the place when it’s cutting the pipe.
EzyGrind Inside Pipe Cutter
We’re mentioning this plumbing tool last because it’s the only one out of all of these that has a different pipe cutter construction. It features a free flow guide wheel which moves separately from the blade, a drill chuck quick release, and it does not use the same replacement blade as all of the others. Yes, you read that right: the ones listed above (and many others on Amazon) are so alike that they use the same blade. They might be different brands and different prices, but that’s just about where the differences stop.
With the EzyGrind tool, we’re finally getting into the realm of something that’s designed differently. The description states that it’s one of the safer methods of cutting through pipes, especially in hard-to-reach places. Now, it is the most expensive out of all of these at $54.00, so it might be worth some extra consideration before you take the leap with this one.
By the way, the replacement blades for all of these tools, including the TigerFish EzyGrind, are actually quite inexpensive, and run between $5 and $10 dollars each. The EzyGrind’s blades only come in packs of two, while you can obtain individual generic blades if you wish. They all run about the same price per each blade.
Still, just looking at the sales page on Amazon for these tools won’t give us much information. Let’s do some deeper research and examine where they hold up when it comes to several important factors.
The Pipe Cutting Test
Let’s compare how good these cutters are at actually doing their job. Probably most pipe cutters work just fine initially, but obviously you’re going to want to get something that will last through more than one or two pipes. Since most of them are basically the same and it would be pointless to test them all, we’re going to test just the Cobra PST109 Inside Pipe Cutter and the EzyGrind Inside Pipe Cutter, since they’re actually separate designs from each other.
Note: We tested each tool on PVC, HDPE, and ABS pipe. We did not cut metal pipe because an alloy pipe cutter or galvanized pipe cutter is a completely different plumbing tool.
Lets dive in and see the results of the test.
Time taken to cut through 4 inch Pipe PVC
Cobra – 36.5 seconds.
Tigerfish Tools EzyGrind – 12.6 seconds.
Time taken to cut through 4 inch Pipe PVC Encased in Concrete
Cobra – 73.1 seconds.
Tigerfish Tools EzyGrind – 12.6 seconds.
The EzyGrind clearly dominated in the speed department. It was cutting three times faster than the Cobra, but faster isn’t always better. We’re going to have to take a few other parts of the experience into consideration.
One of the major problems with inside pipe cutters is how much vibration they give off. How did the Cobra do? Well, it can cut okay, but as with its generic brother the Reed Tool, it can’t cut very cleanly because it vibrates a lot. Worse, if it gets jammed in the pipe, the blade tends to just start spinning freely and obviously that’s a huge issue. It turns out that the blade fixing screw can not put enough pressure on the blade to hold it in place. Some user reviews on Amazon even reported the Cobra tool falling down the pipe!
The EzyGrind on the other hand only vibrated only a little, it seemed a lot more stable and the cut was much cleaner. It felt like the free flow guide wheel was coming into play here.
Of course, safety is paramount to any tool, so you don’t want a tool that jumps to and fro. Having a guide wheel to push against helps the EzyGrind stay balanced when cutting. The guide wheel also restrains the pipe cutter inside the pipe on completion of the cut. The Cobra would swing outside of the pipe when the cut was finished, similar to a golf swing following through. We felt the Cobra was extremely dangerous and a serious point to consider. Cutting PVC pipe isn’t always easy, but it should at least be safe. The EzyGrind was much safer in use and the guide wheel was the critical component here.
Let’s talk about heat. It seems as though the Cobra PST109 Inside Pipe Cutter rubs on the pipe causing friction and retains a lot of heat throughout. The lack of a guide wheel on the Cobra also makes the drill overheat because it requires so much pressure from your hands to keep it stable. There’s nothing worse than having to use half your strength just to keep a tool straight. The heat also seized the blade fixing Phillip’s head screw tight to the shaft. In other words, we had to wait until it cooled down to replace the blade—which needed to be done after almost every cut. The screw also lost its shape when we tried to apply the screwdriver to it because the metal had been weakened by the heat. So if you use the Cobra, be sure that it has completely cooled down before you change out the blade or you could easily break the screw head.
The Cobra was somewhat unusable after a certain point as well because of the heat. It would get so hot that it would melt the pipe. The blade fixing screw and washer was the main source of friction and heat and lots of sparks were coming off the blade as well when we cut the pipe in concrete.
While the EzyGrind did get warm a little, as expected, it was not nearly to the excessive extent of the Cobra. The EzyGrinds free flow guide wheel which moves separately from the blade eliminated any friction between the tool and the pipe.
No matter what you do or what brand you buy, you’re going to have to replace the blade. With all that friction going on, it’s inevitable.
The question is, how long until you need to replace the blade? This is what will reveal the real cost of a tool.
In our test, the Cobra needed a blade replacement after…one cut. Yes, a single cutting session and it needed a new blade. Obviously, this gets extremely expensive. The alternative abrasive disk that it comes with also didn’t last long, and started to disintegrate after to 5 to 10 seconds.
The EzyGrind on the other hand, didn’t need to have its blade replaced after the few cuts that we made, the blade seemed to attack the HDPE, PVC, and ABS pipe without meting the plastic, even when it was cutting a pipe encased in concrete. In fact, let’s look at that next:
Ability to Cut a Pipe in Concrete
The Cobra did not perform well at all in this realm. In fact, it was next to useless. Not only would the blade have to be replaced each time, but it vibrated excessively and took up to 6 times longer to finish the cut than the EzyGrind. It’s just not designed to be in contact with concrete, so it’s really not recommended if this is the kind of job you were hoping to use it with.
The EzyGrind didn’t seem affected by the presence of concrete at all, even after 15 cuts. It has defiantly been designed for this type of situation. We have been told by a plumber who uses the EzyGrind often that he has cut up to 100 pipes in concrete and still had plenty of life in the blade…
Ability to Fit into Pipes
Finally, does the tool even fit into the pipe? Again, the Cobra has a few problems. It’s narrow enough to fit into a normal round pipe, but what happens when a pipe is deformed or otherwise damaged? Unless you’re always going to be cutting a perfectly-shaped pipe, you need something narrow that can cut below the deformed part of the pipe. The EzyGrind has a thin shaft that will allow the plumbing tool to bypass the deformed part of the pipe, if you are faced with this kind of job.
After reviewing all of these stats, one can’t help but get a little bit curious about what’s going on. Clearly the Cobra and its clones work to some extent, but they don’t last long and are typically poorly designed tools. What about the EzyGrind, though? Why does it seem different?
Well, after some research, it turns out that the EzyGrind was designed by an actual trade professional—you know, someone who would work with the tools himself and know what kind of design is best for the job. It uses a diamond-impregnated nickel blade, so it lasts much longer than the steel blades of the generic cutters.
The blade was custom designed for the EzyGrind in partnership with a world renowned tool manufacturer, and it was built to cut PVC, ABS, HDPE pipe and concrete. This is in stark contrast to the generic cutters, which will wear out easily after one or two cuts and will not cut concrete at all. The blades for the EzyGrind aren’t even that expensive, either: they come in packs of two, and the price-per-blade is nearly the same as the generic brands, and yet the lifespan of these blades is clearly longer.
The EzyGrind also uses a free flow guide wheel which moves separately from the blade and gives the tool a preset blade cutting depth. This gives the tool and blade superior stabilization, reduces vibration, reduces heat, a precise cut, and overall makes for a great cutting experience. The free flow guide wheel is something unique to the EzyGrind and is probably one of its greatest benefits compared to the generic cutter, which has no guide at all.
In addition, unlike its competitors mentioned here, it’s not made in China at all—it was designed by an Australian company and it is made in Australia by a world renowned local tool manufacturer. Not everyone cares about this, but it’s worth noting if you appreciate quality products.
What kind of internal pipe cutting tool should you buy, then? Well, that really depends on your goals. The Cobra and other generic Chinese tools aren’t necessarily bad, they just have a limited scope of use—and their inexpensive price ranges reflect that. However, if you try to use them outside of this scope—for example, if you need to frequently cut pipes, or you need to cut inside concrete—then they’re actually not very cost-effective because you’ll need to keep replacing the cheap blades.
In short, if you need to do a one-time job and you don’t mind some vibration and overheating because you only had to pay 12 bucks then get one of the Chinese internal PVC pipe cutters. On the other hand, if you want a professional plumbing tool that you can actually keep in your toolbox over the long-haul and that will save you a lot of time and grief when you need to cut pipe in hard-to-reach places, go with the EzyGrind internal pipe cutter. Click here to check the EzyGrind out on Amazon