January 15

How To Smoothly Cut PVC Pipe

Whether you are a repairman, handyman, or simply doing some DIY renovations, you may find yourself having to cut some PVC piping. 

Although this might seem like an easy task, as with most things, there is an easy way and there is a right way. 

In this article, we will look at the right way to cut PVC pipe and end up with a smooth, clean edge.

Preparing To Cut

Before you can get going on cutting PVC pipe down to size, you need to ensure that the pipe is ready to be cut.

The first thing you should make a point of doing is marking the pipe surface where you plan to cut it.

Make sure that the marking you make is easy to see, but also that the marking can easily be rubbed off later on.

Marking the area you plan to cut ensures that you cut the pipe exactly as you want it. 

If you are planning to use PVC cutting tools such as a hacksaw to cut a section off of your PVC pipe, then you will want to make sure that you have a vise attached to your work table.

This will help to hold the pipe firmly in place, allowing you to cut without worrying about the pipe slipping, which can cause you to leave unsightly scratches on the pipe, or cause lasting damage to it. 

How you prepare your PVC pipe for cutting will depend on the method you are using to cut the pipe.

If you are using a specially-designed PVC cutting tool, which is designed to be used with one hand, then you may well be able to forgo making use of a vise. 

If you are planning to cut the PVC pipe to create two long pieces of PVC piping, then you will want to ensure that the end that is hanging off from your vice, or off of the end of your table is adequately supported.

This helps to keep the weight of the pipe as it is cut from influencing the quality of the cut.

Use a chair or some other tall implement to help hold the other end of the pipe up as you cut. In the long run, this helps to make the job of cutting the pipe much easier!

Using A PVC Pipe Cutter

The first method for cutting a PVC pipe involves using a specialist tool called a PVC cutter. This is a plastic pipe cutter that is highly cost effective, and easy to use.

This tool looks like an ordinary pair of pliers, except it has a large, very sharp blade on one side of the head. 

Using this tool is the quickest and easiest way to cut PVC pipe and ensure a smooth edge straight away.  

Simply position the blade of the cutters where you want to cut the pipe, hold the pipe steady and squeeze the handles together. 

The blade will slice through the plastic and you can move on to the next pipe.

The plier-like PVC cutters are great for cutting smaller diameter pipes.  For thicker pipes, you may want to invest in heavy duty PVC cutters instead.

If you need to cut a larger pipe, such as a guttering pipe, you may need to use a rotary cutter that is much more expensive to purchase.

Cutting With A Handsaw

A handsaw or a hacksaw is another easy and convenient way to cut PVC pipe lengthwise. 

If you are doing a DIY project, this will be the best option, and the likelihood that you or a neighbor already own one of these saws makes it a cheap option too if you don’t want to purchase a pipe cutter from your local hardware store.

For specific challenges like cutting PVC pipes sticking out of the ground, our other article offers detailed guidance.

Simply use a tape measure and mark where you want the cut to be on the pipe, hold the pipe in place on the edge of a workbench or on the bucket mentioned above and begin to cut. 

Because the act of sawing requires more motion to cut through the material of a PVC pipe, the edge you are left with at the end will not be smooth as it is when using PVC cutters. 

However, we will look at how to smoothen those edges below.

Cutting with a handsaw or hacksaw is a lot more physically demanding than using PVC cutters.  However, the blade itself will easily cut through the pipe as it has very sharp teeth.

If you have a significant amount of PVC piping to cut through, this may not be the most ideal option.

Cutting With A Miter Saw

A miter saw is the biggest piece of equipment mentioned in this article and is either something that you own or you don’t. 

How To Smoothly Cut PVC Pipe (1)

If you don’t own a miter saw but decide that it is the best tool for the job, it is possible that a neighbor or local handyman owns one that you can borrow.

Using a miter saw is quick and easy.  Simply mark the pipe where you want to cut it, line the cut mark up with the blade on the saw, switch it on, and gently lower the blade. 

You may also need to clamp the pipe in a miter box and slowly bring the blade down so that it does not cut the pipe too quickly or jaggedly, as this could result in plastic bits flying everywhere.

For most PVC pipes, the blade of a miter saw will slice through it like butter, quick and easy. 

In the event that you do not manage to cut all the way through your piece of piping on the first try, turn the blade off and lift it back up. 

You can then turn the pipe over so that the uncut part is at the top.  The blade should then cut through the remaining pipe with ease.

Because the angle of a miter saw can be set manually, this is also a great method for cutting PVC at different angles when necessary.

However, you should exercise caution by wearing eye protection and protective gloves as this tool could cause serious harm.

Cleaning Burrs

No matter how careful you are with your chosen cutting method, there will always be some burrs left on the edge of your PVC pipe. 

Burrs are the jagged edges left over from cutting tools.

Although it is possible to leave these remaining bits of material on the pipe, especially if they are small, it can cause issues in your project later on. 

These problems can include clogged pipes and imperfect fits, both of which can result in more work.  

To avoid this, it is sensible to remove the burrs from your pipes before installing them in your project.  To de burr the pipe, there are two quick and simple methods you can use.  

Firstly, you can use a utility knife to remove the unwanted excess.  Simply run a sharp blade around the inside and outside of the pipe. 

Holding the knife at a slight angle will help ensure that all burrs have been removed from the rim. 

Secondly, you can use sandpaper to remove the unnecessary burrs. 

Using a plumbers cloth or 120 grit sandpaper, gently rub around the edge of the rim, and the inside and outside of the new edge. 

Make sure that you are gentle with this method as you don’t want to risk changing the shape or density of the pipe.

Once you’ve smoothly cut your PVC pipe, learn about properly beveling PVC pipe for a professional finish in our dedicated article.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, some easy methods to help you cut through PVC piping and ensure a smooth, well-fitting edge.

The good news is that there are various PVC accessories and cutting tools that you can use to make your PVC project a smooth one.

With the right tool, a little care and our guide, you can cut PVC pipes with ease.

Explore further about the most effective ways to cut PVC pipe in our comprehensive guide.


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