Sometimes, home improvement doesn’t always go exactly to plan, and that PVC pipe you were certain would fit is now too large for the job.
Luckily, there are many ways to cut PVC piping to make those ‘won’t quite fit’ pieces fit like a glove.
But what are the best methods for cutting PVC pipe?
Overview Of Methods
First and foremost, there are a few different things we could mean when we discuss shaving down polyvinyl chloride piping.
This could refer to reducing the exterior dimensions, widening the interior dimensions, or reducing the interior dimensions.
It could also refer to narrowly cutting small amounts from the raw edge.
For each of these things, different techniques can be used with basic tools.
Reducing The Exterior
When adjusting the dimensions of PVC piping, there are some methods that are better than others.
Perhaps the simplest, and the one that creates the best finish, is the use of regular sandpaper, which works to cut edges of a plastic pipe.
Another method is to make a slit lengthwise down one end of the PVC piping, then overlap, enough to make it the right fit, before either applying PVC cement or glue, or wrapping with plenty of waterproof tape to hold it in place and keep it watertight.
Narrowing The Interior
However, the problem might not be with the exterior, and the connection problems in the piping could be a result of too loose a fit on the inside of the other pipe.
There are several methods you can use for this, ranging from waterproof electrical tape to thicken the inserted pipe, using a pipe filler (a specially purchased component to reduce the interior dimensions), or use any kind of seal or filler to reduce how much give the connected pipes have.
Widening The Interior
Sandpaper can also be useful for doing this, as you can insert a rolled piece of sandpaper inside the PVC piping, and then sand some away in a rotational motion.
Trimming The Edge
If you need to shave a few millimeters from the end of the pipe, then there are several ways to do this.
This could be done with sandpaper, a miter saw blade, or a hand saw. Just make sure to use a miter box with miter saws to prevent damaging the surroundings of the pipe.
Reducing The Outer Pipe
Now let’s discuss the actual methods themselves in a little more detail.
This is quite simply the easiest method for narrowing the exterior of the PVC piping to make a better fit.
Before you begin this, you have to consider what type of sandpaper you want to use.
There are several different thicknesses, grit types, and sizes, but for PVC plastic, the best type to use is fine grit sandpaper.
The best way to begin is to secure the pipe in hose clamps to ensure good purchase, then wrap the sandpaper over the edge of the pipe, with one half inside and the other half outside, before circling the sandpaper around the edge repeatedly.
This should be done for as long as you need, and before long, you will notice that the dimensions have been narrowed.
The next method, whilst more complex, can also be a good method for narrowing a pipe for a better fit.
First, take the section of pipe you want to insert into the hole (or another pipe), then use a narrow hacksaw to make a short incision about four inches lengthwise.
Then overlap the split end, creating a slight cone shape with the end, before inserting it into the hole or pipe, and sealing with either glue, sealant, or waterproof tape.
Narrowing The Inner Pipe
Alternatively, there are several ways to narrow the dimensions of the interior of the pipe to create a tighter seal around the inserted end.
Pipe Filler Flange
One of the easiest ways to establish a tighter connection by narrowing the interior of the pipe, is through using a pipe filler flange.
These are adapted fittings which can be inserted inside of the pipe, narrowing the interior and creating a tighter connection.
These are relatively cheap to buy, and can be picked up from any hardware store, but more than anything, they are probably the simplest, most stress-free method.
The same effect can be achieved with an even cheaper method, albeit one that potentially requires a little more work and is not for creating a water-tight seal.
This involves taking waterproof tape, like electrical tape, and layering it around the end of the pipe to be inserted, thus making a tighter seal.
It is worth saying that even waterproof tape will degrade and lose adhesive capabilities over time, and so this is less permanent than the pipe filler flange.
Widening The Inner Pipe
This can be done using sandpaper once again, inserting it inside of the pipe and sanding in a twisting motion.
After time this will begin to widen the dimensions of the inner pipe somewhat, allowing a better fit.
When trimming the edge, there are two methods you can use.
After first securing the pipe in a vice or clamp, you can then create a thick fold of sandpaper and rub at the edge of the pipe to reduce the length.
This pipe cutter method only really handy for minor adjustments, and anything greater will take much longer to accomplish.
If the amount is greater than a centimeter or two, then the quickest way might be to use a handsaw tool.
These are handy in small spaces, and if used with a vice to secure the pipe, can be used to neatly shave off the required amount.
The important thing to remember is to secure the pipe firmly and to mark the cutting point on the pipe.
And there we have it, everything you need to shave down the dimensions of PVC piping to make a smooth pipe.
Remember, mistakes happen when doing home improvement, but with a little effort, a little patience, and the right tools, you can get the job done quickly and to a high standard.