- Plumbing tools are generally specific to each job or situation.
- The best PVC pipe cutter is defined by application, design and materials used to make the tool.
- The best way to cut PVC pipe is by using a tool specifically designed for the job.
- Multiple tools are required when undertaking a plumbing apprenticeship.
Being a novice at anything can be a confusing time, and it’s no different when you’re first starting a plumbing apprenticeship. Choosing the best PVC pipe cutter to include in your set of plumbing tools is not easy , but over time and with more experience, it will become second nature.
I come from a family of plumbers and have worked 22 years in the plumbing trade as a professional in several different countries. Since my early days, earning plumbing apprenticeship wages, I have come to know a thing or two about what plumbing tools to use for what job. Every plumber has his own style, but it there a few tricks to the trade and it pays to absorb a little bit of advice. It definitely helped me when I started my plumbing apprenticeship.
Now, you’ll find as you start to work out in the field that a very common aspect of many jobs will be the need to cut PVC pipe. This is a major skill that you should concentrate on learning during your plumbing apprenticeship because it has so many different applications. For example, sometimes pipes will be damaged beyond simple repair and you will have to cut and replace sections. Other times you will be installing long runs of pipes and cutting into them at certain points to glue on a fitting, such as a 45 or 90 degree PVC pipe bend.
Thankfully, this sort of job is simple enough if you get enough practice and you have the right tools. There is no single best way to cut PVC pipe, but there are better tools for certain applications. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 5 of the best plumbing tools that you can use for the important task of cutting PVC pipe:
1. EzyGrind Inside Pipe Cutter
The EzyGrind Internal Pipe Cutter cuts pipe from the inside out. This plumbing tool is one of the safest ways to cut PVC pipe because the tool is contained within the pipe during and after the cut has been made. You might also find on occasion that you have no choice but to cut the pipe this way, as often pipes are encased in other material such as concrete or even just soil. Other times, you may simply not want to move or disturb any objects or substances around the pipe, such as when the pipe is embedded within the interior of a wall, floor, or ceiling, so it’s just much quicker and more convenient to cut it from the inside. It’s best to always have one of these on hand, just in case.
Why should you use the EzyGrind specifically, though? Well, there are a few inside pipe cutters on the market, as you might notice with the quick Internet search. Another thing that you might notice is that actually they’re almost all the same! Most internal pipe cutters that you will find are actually the same exact generic design. In fact, multiple brands of pipe cutters may very well be produced by the same Chinese manufacturer, maybe even in the same exact factory. They just give it a different logo and send it on its way.
In and of itself, “cloning” a product isn’t always a bad thing. It’s just bad in this case because this generic design was low quality to begin with. I’ve tried several brands of these Chinese-made internal PVC pipe cutters, and they all have many glaring flaws in common: they overheat easily, they take forever to make a cut, they can’t cut pipe that’s encased in concrete, and they need to have their blades replaced after one or two cuts.
Even though these inside pipe cutters might be slightly cheaper than the EzyGrind, they don’t last nearly as long and they are just a pain to work with, not to mention dangerous on occasion. Sometimes it’s even hard to remove them from the drill after you’re done because they get so hot you have to wait for them to cool down before you can touch them.
By contrast, the EzyGrind Inside Pipe Cutter has a totally different design from all the others that have flooded the market. It is made in Australia and was designed by actual plumbing experts. It has a few key features that make it stand out from the rest, including:
– The ability to cut pipes that are in concrete or soil.
– Long-lasting, custom designed, diamond pipe cutter blades that cut PVC, HDPE and ABS pipe. (The generic kind have steel blades that wear away fast.)
– Can make zero tolerance cuts. This means supper fine cuts can be made easily.
– Highly efficient and safe cutting thanks to the stabilizing guide wheel.
– Includes two pipe saw guide wheels that allow for precise cutting depths and a longer blade life.
– Vibrates far less than generic offerings because it has a dry-running, self-lubricating bearing.
– Comes in two sizes, 36mm blade and 80mm blade, can cut 40mm to 150mm pipe schedule 40 pipe.
– Because of the stability, it produces more accurate cuts and causes less stress on the battery drill.
– Much less prone to overheating.
– Easy to use and simply attaches to your drill.
– Heavy duty, made for professionals, by professionals.
The EzyGrind is also a small tool that you can just throw into your toolbox and take anywhere, so make sure that this is on your list of essentials before you head out into the field. It’s, in my opinion, the best PVC pipe cutter of its kind.
⇒ You can check them out here tigerfishtools.com
2. Rothenberger ROCUT PVC Ratchet Cutter
A real asset to any plumbers tool box is a Ratcheting PVC cutter. These can be very safe and simple plumbing tools, and they can cut a variety of pipe materials and sizes up to 1.5 inch OD. As with a most of hand tools, you have a lot of control and can make very exact cuts. Before you start, you can mark the pipe where you want to make the cut and let the blade hover over that exact spot. Then rest the blade on your predetermined cutting point before squeezing the handle. This will engage the bottom half of the tool to the bottom of the pipe to start the cutting.
Basically, the ratchet cutter essentially works by using pressure and leverage. There is a blade on one side of the ratchet’s “jaws” and you progressively increase the pressure until the blade cuts through your section of pipe. Because of the ratcheting mechanism, it actually doesn’t take a lot of strength to do this and just about anyone can use this tool. (Though it can make your hand cramp up if you’re cutting a lot of pipe over and over.) It saves energy and is easier to use compared to the “scissor” style PVC cutters that have no ratcheting mechanism. A few of the major benefits of using this pipe cutter include:
– A release button for the blade allows for one-handed operation
– Thick-walled plastic pipes are easy to cut due to the Ratchet mechanism
– Comfy handles and durable quality
– Precise wide-angle cuts
– Lockable lever which keeps the tool closed for safe transport and protection of the blade
– It has a very clean cut with minimal debris, so it is very safe to work with.
– You can be slow and exact, since the tool only works when you’re applying pressure.
– You can make many cuts quickly. (It normally takes just a few seconds to squeeze the blade deep into the pipe.)
The tool comes in a few different sizes that allow for larger pipe cutting. Only thing is that since the main force that this cutter relies on is the opening and closing of your hand, it’s difficult to cut a pipe that is more than about 2.5 inches in diameter because it requires a lot of pressure. For smaller pipes under 1.5 inches, though, this is probably the best PVC pipe cutter to use.
There are many different brands and styles of PVC ratchet cutters, but a quality tool should still be selected as the cheap kind can be problematic and break. Shop around and find one that can cut pipe up to 1.5 or 2.5 inches in diameter, and pick something that’s going to feel comfortable for you amid all of the repetitive motion. For pipes over 2 inches I would recommend going with something else, like one of the saws mentioned below.
⇒ This Ratchet Cutter is in my plumbing tool kit – Rothenberger ROCUT PVC Ratchet Cutter PVC ratchet cutter
3. IRWIN Tools MARATHON 15-inch ProTouch Fine Cut Saw
A hand saw comes in handy more often than not.When you are not cutting pipe from the inside this saw will be your best friend. Sometimes you will encounter a pipe that is an unusual size or shape and your usual choices simply might not work. Even hacksaws have their limits because of the way that they are built, where the top part of the frame can prevent you from being able to cut deeply into a pipe of a certain size.
In cases like these, you might need the simplicity and freedom of a hand saw. Of course, you will trade in a certain degree of convenience and perhaps even safety because these aren’t the most stable of tools to use for the job. Be that as it may, they have a few benefits that make them important in your plumbing tool kit:
– You can use them on many different materials.
– You can use them from many different angles.
– Since they usually consist of just a handle and the blade, there is no frame that gets in the way, and so you can cut pipes of many sizes.
– Having one around is a good idea because you may need to cut materials that are surrounding the pipes as well. (For example, a hand saw is great at cutting wood, obviously.)
Your best bet here is to find a hand saw that is rather fine toothed, since this will cut through PVC the easiest. It’s also advisable to cut pipes that are fairly stable and unlikely to roll around. To make things more efficient and eliminate some of the safety concerns, follow these basic steps if you’re using a hand saw:
– Carefully mark where you need to cut.
– Place the pipe section on a stable surface if you can or if it isn’t already.
– Put on protective equipment such as safety glasses and gloves.
– Slowly saw away at the pipe surface, rotating as you go.
– Once you successfully make the cut, de-burr the edges.
Never push down hard on the saw, there is a saying – Let the saw do the cutting. Take it slow and gently saw away at the material, or else you could potentially be creating an unsafe situation. You want to cut the pipe, after all, not yourself. You also don’t want to accidentally crack the pipe. A short length, deep bodied saw with fine teeth works best.
⇒ My favorite is the IRWIN Tools MARATHON 15-inch ProTouch Fine Cut Saw
4. DEWALT DWHT20547L 5-in-1 Hacksaw
Hacksaws are usually more appropriate for pipe cutting than hand saws and you might just find that they’re invaluable plumbing tools in your arsenal. The nice thing about hacksaws is that they can be used in a wide variety of situations, on a multitude of different materials. Lots of people use hacksaws to cut through more than just PVC—they will work with many metal pipes as well. The stiff frame offers a lot of stability, so you can really get your weight and strength behind it without it wobbling quite as much as a hand saw might.
The blade is normally small and easy to work with, too. Even if you’re in an awkward position, you’ll usually be able to cut with a hacksaw, and the main limit in maneuverability that you will find will probably be the frame. (This can be mitigated in some cases by working with a panel hacksaw, though.) Hacksaws also tend to have fine, closely-spaced teeth that are perfect for digging into metal.
The only thing is that these tend to make more of a mess that, say, a ratchet cutter. This should be fine, though, so long as you’re mindful when you cut and you make sure to wear eye and hand protection.
To cut a pipe with a hacksaw, you would follow steps more or less similar to those that you would with a hand saw, with a few modifications:
– Mark where you need to make the cut.
– Check that the frame of the hacksaw won’t interfere when you cut the pipe.
– Stabilize the pipe so that it won’t roll around.
– Wear eye and hand protection, and anything else that you think you might need.
– Saw carefully around where you marked, rotating the pipe if you can.
– De-burr the edges when you’re done.
That’s about it. Since hacksaws are so versatile, make sure that you always have one because you never know what materials you will find yourself working with. You might also want to keep saws of different sizes on hand, as well as extra blades or a sharpening tool in case you notice that any of your saws are getting dull. Speaking of which, you might want to invest some time in learning how to correctly sharpen saws, in case you find yourself in a situation where your blades are dull and you have no replacements.
⇒ An ergonomically designed handle and a low profile for cutting in tight spaces are the things to look for. I like this version DEWALT DWHT20547L 5-in-1 Hacksaw
5.General Tools 858 PVC Pipe Cable Saw
Have you been out camping lately? You might have noticed someone using a type of cable saw on some nearby tree branches. These are fairly popular with outdoors people, and you could say that they are like the hand-tool equivalent of a simple chain saw.
Of course, the ones that people use to fell tree branches are heavy duty compared to what plumbers and home improvement experts use to cut PVC. The idea is roughly the same, though: You loop a sharp metal rope around the piece of wood, piping, or anything else that you’re looking to cut. Next, you shuck the handles back and forth, left to right and back again, until the cable finishes cutting through the material. A good, sharp cable saw will seem to just glide through the PVC.
Just make sure that you use this with a pipe that is stable and anchored well to something so that it can take the pressure of the cable without jostling too much. In other words, this wouldn’t be the best choice for pipes that are loose and have yet to be installed. In that case, reach for a ratchet cutter if the pipe is small enough, or a saw of some kind if it’s bigger. Certainly, if the pipe is encased in something, you won’t be able to use this at all, and it’s best to go with an inside pipe cutter like the EzyGrind.
Needless to say, this works well on PVC objects of all kinds of shapes, but it works especially well on cylindrical objects like pipes. The cuts are relatively clean and there is often less debris compared to other saws. It is an extremely versatile plumbing tool and it has a few obvious advantages over other types of saws and cutters:
– It can cut pipes of a huge variety of sizes and doesn’t require any special adjustment to do so.
– It can cut pipes that are in tight spaces because it is essentially just a thin, sharp wire.
– It is one of the best choices when dealing with tricky cuts or oddly-shaped pipes.
– It usually makes less of a mess than other options.
– Often, it requires less physical effort than other saws.
A cable saw can conform to the shape and size of a pipe really well, so anytime that you have an unusually challenging cut to make, you might consider it. At the very least, keep one in your toolbox. They are small and easy to carry around.
⇒ This design has great handles and allow me to get leverage when cutting pipe. General Tools 858 PVC Pipe Cable Saw
Hopefully, now you have a sense of what the best PVC pipe cutter is for each specific situation. As you advance in your plumbing apprenticeship, you will learn more and more, and you’ll start to form your own style and habits. These are definitely not the only plumbing tools that you will encounter that will help you do the job of cutting PVC, but they are definitely major options that you should concentrate on for now.