Best Methods for Cutting and Using PVC Pipe

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Best Methods for Cutting PVC Pipe
Rookie and experienced DIY’rs run up against the question of the best, safest method for cutting PVC pipe.

Best Technique for Cutting and Using PVC Pipe

PVC pipes are often part of DIY projects. Rookie and experienced DIY’rs, though, run up against the question of the best, safest method for cutting and using PVC pipe. You don’t want to run to a hardware store every time PVC needs cutting. Soon, the DIY project will be costing you more money. Knowing how to cut and size PVC pipe at home is a time and money saver.

When figuring out a good method, there are multiple ways to take it on. Each can be perfectly safe and get the job done. There are different tools and methods which can be best for certain situations or the frequency with which you are using PVC. Common tools and methods will handle almost every job or situation you can come across. You can also get better, more consistent results with a few ideas and an extra step or two.

Remember to always use caution when handling PVC-cutting devices. Careless procedures can cause sudden and serious injury. When picking a technique for cutting PVC, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong solution. The option you use should boil down to the kind of pipe being cut, the overall job, and your safety and knowledge level.

PVC Cutters

PVC cutters are probably the easiest, most efficient, and best cost-efficient tool and way for cutting PVC. This is especially true if you’re using PVC pipe on numerous home projects. It’s a simple, fairly inexpensive, and safe tool.

To use a cutter, start by lining up the blade at the cutting point. You open and close the tool to cut the pipe. Another safety benefit, which will give you better work results as well, is PVC cutters leave no frayed, jagged edges on the pipe.

PVC cutters come in different sizes. For most DIY uses, a regular PVC cutter for pipe up to 1” thick is what you’ll need. There are larger, more heavy-duty tools for larger pipes and more cutting force.


If you are rarely working with PVC, and don’t have PVC cutters handy, you probably have a hacksaw at home. This is a popular and perfectly fine way to cut PVC of any thickness for any job needing straight cuts of PVC. A hacksaw is a good tool, also, for making a large number of repeated, smaller cuts.

You should use a vise or clamp with a hacksaw. This gives you additional safety and precision. When working with a hacksaw, be as safe as possible. The sharp teeth on the saw blade can cause injury. Hacksaws are generally going to take more labor and time than a PVC cutter, but if you’re not regularly working with PVC pipe, this could save you a trip to the store. There are uses for which a hacksaw will give you more precise cuts than a PVC cutter.

Miter Saw

Fix and stabilize the PVC pipe under the miter saw. You should mark the pipe where the cut will be, then align it on the workbench with the saw blade. Then turn on and carefully operate the saw bringing it down until it cuts through the pipe. Turn off the saw. Wait for it to stop before moving it up out of the pipe.

Cable Saw

A cable saw is a little-used tool, but in some situations, a very good method for cutting PVC pipe. A cable saw is not a way to cut PVC pipe initially. It should be used for making cuts when a pipe is already in place.

For using a cable saw on PVC which needs more specific cutting or shaping, you wrap the cable around the pipe in a U shape, then alternate pulling the ends of the cable until the saw works through the pipe. This can be a great tool and method for cutting in tight spaces. It’s used quite often in plumbing jobs.

Best Methods for Cutting PVC Pipe
PVC cutters are probably the easiest, most efficient, and best cost-efficient tool and way for cutting PVC.

Marking Where You’ll Cut

Measure twice, and cut once. It applies to a bunch of different DIY, and pro, jobs. With cutting PVC, you want to make cuts as straight as possible. If you only need to cut it once, that’s best. It’s how to get the best fit in the end, too.

Use a tape measure and pencil to mark the pipe where it should be cut. Even if it seems safe and quick, you shouldn’t hold the pipe by hand while cutting. This can give you inexact and crooked cuts. It’s also one more safety issue that can go wrong. It’s always best to use a vise, clamp, miter box or, if you’ve got nothing else, even duct tape, to hold the pipe.

Prep Pipes for Fitting

Cutting PVC pipe may leave the edges with rough, frayed splinters or fragments. You should smooth the edges of pipes for safety and consistent performance once you install it. Deburring eliminates shavings or burrs and gives a smoother edge.

Deburr each pipe by using a deburring tool or utility knife to get rid of shavings or other pieces that can scratch or cut you or someone else.
For ABS pipes, you should erase and clean any ink, oil, or dirt with a pipe cleaner solution, then let it dry before installing it. Dry-fit pipes and fittings to ensure the pipes are sized correctly and will not flex or turn.


Deburring is a step that may be optional depending on your use of the PVC. It’s usually very helpful and an extra safety step for you, or anyone else who might work with or touch the pipe later.

Pipes left with rough, splintered edges can be inefficient, wear faster or weaken connections in the long run. Pipe edges can be smoothed with a deburring tool or utility knife, then sandpaper.

Deburring isn’t mandatory for all PVC projects. It is considered a standard step for any professional work. If you are deburring PVC pipes regularly, on numerous projects, or a big project, it’s likely worth it to buy deburring tools to make it easier and more exact.

South End Plumbing specializes in leak repairs and water heater installation, so remember, we are just a click away. We also specialize in tankless water heaters – give us a call! South End Plumbing is one of the only companies that will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-919-1722 or fill out the form online to schedule a visit.

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