For a home improvement or crafting project you may need to cut some PVC pipe to size. But do you know the best way to do this and how to do it safely?
What if you don't have a plastic pipe cutter to cut the pipe?
We’ll take a look at how to cut PVC pipe with a hand saw and provide you with everything you need to know for your PVC project.
Hand Saws For Cutting PVC Pipe
There are several ways that you can cut PVC pipe. You can use a specialized tool called a pipe cutter, PVC cutter, or even a powered miter saw, which is a rotating pipe cutter.
But if all you have is a hand saw then you could also use this to cut your PVC pipe instead of a PVC cutter.
But which type of hand saw should you use?
There are a variety of different hand saws that you could cut PVC pipe with but the two most commonly used are the hack saw and the back saw.
We take a look at both of these hand saws and how well they work in cutting PVC pipe.
A hack saw is used to cut a variety of non-wood materials including PVC and metal. It is recognizable due to its shape and the size of the teeth on the blade.
Hack saws have a U or C shaped frame and hold a thin blade under tension.
This blade has small teeth, and this is what makes the hack saw good for cutting metal and PVC pipe.
It is possible to remove the blade when it becomes blunt and change it for a new one. There is also a tensioning knob on the saw to tighten or loosen the blade as needed.
The handle is D shaped and provides a good grip for your hand.
Another way to cut PVC is with a back saw. A back saw is very similar to a hack saw in that it has very small teeth.
This makes it ideal for cutting wood in fine detail and with a neat and tidy finish. The small teeth make it possible to use the back saw for cutting PVC pipe.
Back saws are highly recognizable with the plate of steel or brass on the top of the blade which is called a stiffening rib.
This allows for careful and precise cutting when dealing with wood.
If you are cutting PVC pipe with a back saw the same level of precision can be achieved.
Best Hand Saw For Cutting PVC Pipe
The best hand saw for cutting PVC pipe is a hack saw. The small, fine teeth of this tool make it easier to cut through the plastic piping in a neat way.
That said, there will still be some burring or rough edges to the pipe when you have finished cutting.
Of course, you can trim these off with a sharp knife and if needed sand any final rough pieces left on the edges of the cut.
If you are cutting the PVC pipe as part of a crafting project then a neat finish may or may not be necessary.
However, if you are using the pipework for water a more tidy edge is a good idea.
Guide To Cutting PVC Pipe With A Hand Saw
If you have never cut PVC pipe with a hand saw before, you may be looking for some guidance on the best way to do this.
Most DIYers will have a hack saw in their tool box but may only ever have used it to cut metal.
Cutting lengths of PVC pipe will be a bit different, so we will take you through the process.
As mentioned before, if the pipe is for plumbing purposes then a good clean finish on the cut will be needed as you will most likely be connecting the pipe up to a water system.
Rough edges can lead to leaks.
The most important part of any project is making sure that you are safe while carrying it out. A hack saw is a sharp tool so wear gloves to protect your hands.
You should also not hold the pipe in your hands as you try to cut it. We also recommend wearing safety glasses.
Make sure you have a clear space to work, and it is good practice to use clamps or a miter box to hold the PVC pipe steady while you are cutting.
Use a tape measure to accurately calculate the length of pipe that you want to cut.
You may not be able to mark it with a pencil, but you can use a permanent marker to draw a cutting line.
Some people like to use a hose clip either side of the line and use them as a guide to make sure the cut is straight.
Once the pipe is cut the hose clips are removed.
Depending on the amount of cutting you are going to do it may be a good idea to use a clamp or vise to hold the pipe.
For safety reasons you should use one or the other and not try to steady the PVC pipe with your hand.
By securing the entire pipe to a solid surface such as a workbench you will be able to get better purchase on the surface of the pipe and make a clean, straight cut.
If you need an angled cut you should use a miter block. This too should be fixed to a solid surface and the pipe secured in a vise or with clamps.
Prepare your hack saw by ensuring that the tensioner nut on the saw is hand tightened.
If the blade is loose it will result in a cut that is not straight or for an angled cut, the angle will not be true.
A loose blade is also a danger to you as it may slip and cause an injury.
To cut the pipe, place the rear of the hack saw blade on the cut line that you have marked on the pipe.
Carefully draw the saw back to create a notch in the pipe. Lift the saw off the pipe and replace it in the original position and repeat this drawing back motion.
This notch prevents the saw blade from bouncing along the pipe surface and provides a guide for the subsequent movement of the saw.
When there is a defined and clean notch in the surface of the plastic pipe, you can begin to slowly use a back and forth motion.
Moving the saw too quickly may cause it to wiggle and create a crooked cut.
As you reach the end of the cut, slow down so that you don’t cause the pipe to suddenly break off.
You may be left with some rough edges on the cut pipe. These can be trimmed with a sharp knife and the edges sanded down even further if necessary.
Alternatively, you can find deburring tools at your local hardware store.
Using a hand saw to cut PVC pipe is quick and simple if you don’t have many cuts to make.
If you find you are doing a lot of this type of work you may consider investing in PVC pipe cutters.
We hope this guide to cutting PVC pipe with a hand saw has been helpful.