Cutting PVC pipe can be tricky at the best of times, mainly due to the fact that the nature of plastic makes it slippery and hard to get good purchase whilst cutting.
But what about when you are cutting a long section of pipe lengthwise?
Uses For PVC Piping
There can be many reasons why you might need PVC piping cut in half lengthwise.
It could be as an end cover for some wooden or metal fencing, or as a trough for a hydroponics system.
Before you get started, there are several things you need to think about.
Perhaps most importantly, the first thing which needs to be done is making sure you have the right length of PVC piping for the task at hand.
You should measure the distance you are wanting to pipe with a tape measure, or indeed the length of the thing you want to cover, and then measure your pipe accordingly.
If there is too much, then you can always mark off a section to remove before you begin.
Similarly, when cutting a line lengthwise down plastic piping, it is important to measure and draw a straight line down the entire pipe to ensure the best results when cutting.
The curved nature of piping will cause it to distort if you try to cut a PVC pipe free hand, and so scoring or drawing a line in the plastic is the overall easiest way.
Of course, as with any home improvement project, it is the tools that maketh the man.
In this case, you will need something to secure the piping with, either a clamp, several clamps, or a desk vice, various cutting tools (depending on the length of the piping), a measuring tape, and something to mark out a straight line (or cutting point) such as chalk.
Choosing the right saw can be tricky, especially for an unconventional job such as this.
That being said, each one has varying degrees of efficacy, and certain factors which might help you make your decision.
Whilst a hacksaw might be the most obvious choice, and one that most people have access to, it does require more effort, especially on long lengths of plastic.
It could also be hard to find purchase when cutting, or indeed to leave a clean and straight finish.
Table saws can be an effective and quick way to cut plastic, however keeping the pipe straight and secure can be tricky, especially when dealing with long lengths.
A jig saw can be an effective choice, as it allows mechanized cutting, whilst still enabling lightweight, handheld dexterity.
So, it will help to keep the pipe steady while providing a straight cut with the sharp saw blade.
For alternative methods of cutting PVC pipe without a proper pipe cutter, check out this guide.
Whilst these are generally used for curved lines, or intricate detailing, with the right amount of patience, the right attachment, and the right amount of care, it is possible to achieve the end you want.
To achieve a good finish, there are three main methods you could use to secure the length of pipe and get a nice, clean lengthwise cut.
As always, make sure to wear appropriate gear such as eye protection.
Building A Jig
The first method, and perhaps the most useful, is to create a small pipe jig, or framework, to hold the pipe in place during cutting.
This doesn’t require much work, and can consist of a relatively simple design of two pieces of wood to hold the pipe in place.
The best way to do this is to create an open-ended box (like a miter box), the same length and width as the pipe, which you can slide it into ready for cutting.
The inside of the box should be the same length as the pipe diameter.
This can be done using plywood, particle board, or medium-density fiberboard, and requires the attachment of two thinner, long pieces atop another wooden board.
These can be attached using either wood glue or nails, and the job doesn’t need to be expertly done to be effective – all it needs is sturdiness.
This is especially useful when using a jigsaw or a table saw, and with the latter, the best method is to drill a nail through the pipe horizontally, attaching one end to the wooden jig, and then running the entire thing – jig, pipe, and all – through the table saw in a slow but purposeful movement.
Then, simply cut down the chalk line until you have two halves of the pipe!
Gluing The Pipe
Another, perhaps more fiddly, method, is to use a low strength glue to attach the pipe to a piece of scrap wood.
This process works best when using a jigsaw or a hacksaw, as they don’t put too much pressure or force on the pipe and the wood, thus having a better chance of staying straight and secure.
Once you have done this, you can then use your chosen method of sawing, before dissolving the glue with hairspray when the job is done.
This works best when using a hot glue gun or some similar adhesive method, and the hairspray should be sprayed liberally along the glued portion to dissolve it fully.
Using A Rotary Tool
Alternatively, you can also use a rotary tool with a circular wood cutting attachment on the end.
The pipe will need to be clamped with either a vice or similar implement, before you can get started.
Whilst this is not as precise or as neat as using the above methods, it is ideal if a clean cut isn’t needed, or if too much precision isn’t required.
Clamps & Vice
Alternatively, if you do indeed have a vice on your workbench, or several clamps and a flat surface, you can always use these to hold the thing steady.
This can be used in collaboration with a hacksaw or a jigsaw, and would probably work best if done in short sections at a time, moving and readjusting the clamps or the vice when moving onto another section.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about cutting PVC piping lengthwise.
The important things to remember are safety, planning, proper measurements, and using the right tools for the job.
Also, for a generally safer operation, a helpful hand is always advised when using power tools!
If you’re interested in learning more about shaping or shaving down PVC piping, you can find additional tips in this guide.”