When dealing with any kind of plastic tubing, it is important to ensure you are using the right PVC cutting tools for the job.
Certain techniques that are appropriate for wood and metal, will probably not be ideal for plastic, even if it is solid and hard.
But what are some of the easiest ways to cut hard plastic piping without damaging it?
Be it plastic sheeting or PVC piping, cutting PVC pipe without causing damage, or tarnishing the surface, can be tricky.
However, there are many different techniques that can be used to achieve it easily and with the best results. Time to pop down to the local hardware store!
- Using a saw.
- Using a drill.
- Slicing with a thread.
Using A Saw
Using a saw is obviously the most prominent method of cutting hard plastic, but there can be several downsides.
One downside is that the serrated, sharp teeth of the saw blade can leave a jagged, scuffed edge, and depending on what it is you are cutting, it could tarnish the plastic.
Of course, with a PVC pipe this isn’t so much of an issue, but if they are bathroom pipes which happen to be on show, then this might be a problem.
When choosing a saw, there are three styles and techniques you can choose from, including: a hacksaw, a jigsaw, and a circular saw.
This is perhaps the most accessible and simple way to cut the pipe, and whilst difficult to first get purchase on the slippery plastic, it can be quite simple once cutting has begun.
These saws are easy to find in hardware stores and a great way to cut PVC pipe.
There are specific blades you can get for cutting plastic, which can then be mounted onto the hacksaw to make the job easier.
We don’t recommend using hacksaws with large teeth as a pipe cutter, as this can lead to rough edges.
Once you have done this, the first thing to do is to secure the plastic pipe using a clamp or vice, making sure there is no room for movement.
As plastic is already a slippery surface, any further movement could result in a nasty accident or cut, and nobody wants that.
Hold the hacksaw in your dominant hand, and secure the end of the piping with your other hand, just to ensure that no movement occurs by accident.
Also, make sure to only use a PVC cutter on a flat surface to ensure a straight cut.
Then begin to make your initial cuts. For the best results, you could mark the plastic with a marker or pen, to ensure you cut a straight line.
You could also take the first few strokes slowly to create an edge in the plastic, before securing the saw and cutting as normal.
Then simply keep cutting until you cut through the plastic. Depending on the thickness of the pipe, you might need to loosen the vice, spin the pipe around, and then do the same on the other side.
Finally, trim the edges with a utility knife.
If you don’t have a proper PVC pipe cutter, learn how to effectively cut PVC pipes using alternative tools.
Circular saws are a great power tool for cutting through hard plastic piping, and when used correctly can make really light work of the job.
As with the hacksaw, first choose and attach a blade that is designed for cutting plastic. This will make the job easier, and will ensure that you have a good quality finish.
The best kind of blade should have a tooth number of around 70 or more, to ensure that a smoother cut can be made through the plastic without any resistance whilst cutting, and without any damage to the surrounding plastic.
Another handy tip is to opt for a coated blade, as this will avoid the saw overheating when cutting through the hard plastic pipe.
Whilst this is not so detrimental for the saw, the excess heat could warp the edges of the plastic piping, making it unfit for use.
When cutting through the plastic, be sure to leave any plastic films over the top, as this will help to protect the surrounding plastic.
Also, be sure to cut the entire pipe in stages to avoid the saw from overheating.
Whilst jigsaws can be handy for cutting plastic, they are more effective when cutting intricate, curved lines, rather than straight ones.
That being said, with the right attachment, and the proper care, the job can be done.
First choose a blade that is longer than the thickness of the plastic. About an inch should do, and this will ensure that the jigsaw can effectively cut through the hard plastic.
Be sure to use it at a low speed, as this will prevent the blade from getting too hot and warping the plastic.
When cutting, the best way to achieve a straight line is to mark it with a pen, or with tape, and proceed with a slow, smooth cutting motion to get the best effect.
As mentioned, other methods can involve cutting it with a thread, or using a drill.
A drill can be used to cut through hard plastic piping, but this is only really beneficial when cutting a simple hole in it, for example when mounting it on an exterior wall or gutter.
This might seem like an unusual choice, but a good strong spool of cotton or polyester (and patience) can be utilized to slowly cut through the plastic piping.
This is especially effective for people who do not own, or have access to, any kind of saw.
To begin, ensure the hard plastic pipe is secured properly once again, before selecting the spot you want to cut, and wrapping a piece of cotton (about 60cm in length) to begin the cut.
Moving this back and forth, over time you will start to see a groove form in the plastic.
Using a thread to cut PVC pipe is the cheapest of the PVC accessories.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about cutting a hard plastic pipe with PVC cutters.
Learn how to accurately cut PVC even without standard measurements.
Remember, always put safety as a priority, and if possible have someone else to assist you when using heavy power tools or machinery, as most accidents happen because of carelessness.
Most importantly, take your time, wear safety glasses, and use the right tools for the job.