By Timothy Dale | Published Aug 31, 2022 10:23 AM
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Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is a common material in drains, vents, water mains, and irrigation systems because it’s long lasting, lightweight, durable, and easy to recycle. However, installing PVC pipe requires cutting through the material with a PVC pipe-cutting tool. A PVC pipe cutter can come in a variety of types, ranging from a simple manual PVC pipe-cutter tool that needs tightening by hand to a fully electric PVC tube cutter that does all the work with the push of a button.
Plastic pipe cutters need to cut new PVC pipe effectively to the appropriate length or cut through installed PVC pipe for modification or removal. This guide to the top plastic pipe-cutter tools can help users learn more about the various pipe-cutter types and how to choose the best PVC pipe cutters for their next project.
Before selecting a new PVC cutting tool for a tool box or workshop, it’s recommended users learn more about the various types of PVC cutting tools, the cutting capacity, and blade material in order to choose the best PVC pipe cutter for their needs.
When it comes to types of PVC cutters, users can choose from several different options, including ratcheting, manual, spring-loaded, electric, and handsaw.
When looking for a new PVC pipe cutter, factor in the size of the pipe that will be cut to ensure that the cutter jaws can fit around the pipe. Unfortunately, this can get confusing because the stated diameter of a PVC pipe refers to the inner diameter instead of the outer diameter.
For example, a piece of PVC pipe with a diameter of 1⅝ inch has an inner diameter that measures 1⅝ inch, so a PVC pipe cutter with a maximum cutting capacity of 1⅝ inch would not be able to fit around the pipe. The actual measurement needed to compare the cutting capacity with the pipe is the outer diameter.
The outer diameter of the pipe depends on the PVC schedule. PVC schedule refers to the thickness of the PVC pipe wall. The most common option is schedule 40, but schedule 80, schedule 120, and a smaller option known as “thin-wall PVC” also are available. Before deciding on a new pipe cutter, users should check to make sure that the cutting capacity is suitable for the PVC pipe size and schedule they expect to use.
The blade is one of the most important parts of a pipe cutter because it is responsible for slicing through the PVC. Depending on the type of pipe cutter, the blade can be a circular cutter wheel, a flat cutting edge, or a serrated cutting edge. Choose the type of cutter that is suitable for the project, and research the blade material. Look for products with heat-treated steel blades that are resistant to rust and corrosion.
Another factor to pay attention to is the replaceability of the blade. Most PVC pipe cutters have replaceable blades, though the cost of the replacement blade might be higher than a new PVC cutter, so take the time to factor in the price of replacement blades before investing in a PVC pipe-cutting product.
Whether using a manual cutter, spring-loaded cutter, or even an electric PVC pipe cutter, it’s important to consider the grip, ease of use, and any additional features that can improve the ergonomics of the tool. Padded handles with soft grips can increase the user’s comfort, making it easier to cut through PVC pipe without straining one’s hands.
Consider looking for tools with helpful features, such as catch rings to hold the blade closed on a set of spring-loaded cutters or a textured adjustment knob on a set of manual pipe cutters that makes it easier to grip and adjust the cutting-wheel position. However, ratcheting and electric pipe cutters are the best choices for ease of use and comfort because these tools are designed to do most of the work.
Selected as the best PVC pipe cutters in each respective category, this list of top products was chosen based on type, cutting capacity, blade material, ergonomic design, and overall quality.
Limit the strain and fatigue of cutting through durable PVC pipe by taking advantage of the ratcheting mechanism offered on these Irwin ratcheting pipe cutters. The cutting blade is made of sharpened manganese steel, while the body of the tool is lightweight cast aluminum. It also features curved handles that make it easier for the user to grip and control the alignment or positioning of the tool.
Use the PVC pipe cutters on chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC); PVC; acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS); cross-linked polyethylene, or PEX, vinyl; or rubber tubing, and when the job is done, use the locking clip to keep the blade closed to prevent accidental injury or damage to the blade. However, it should be noted that the cutting capacity is suitable only for pipes with an outer diameter up to 1½ inches.
Get the Irwin PVC pipe cutters on Amazon.
Using a manual pipe cutter always comes with the risk of hand strain or muscle fatigue. However, for those who don’t mind putting in a little physical effort, these cutters are simple, effective tools that can cut stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and PVC. The pipe cutter has a cutting capacity ranging from 3/16 of an inch to 2 inches in diameter (the outer diameter of the pipe; not the inner diameter).
The larger pipe cutter has a textured adjustment knob for easy tightening of the cutter around the pipe. Although the smaller cutter does not have this easy-to-use adjustment knob, it is designed with a small body for use in tight spaces where other pipe cutters would not fit. Both cutters use durable, heat-treated alloy-steel blades that are resistant to rust and corrosion, though it’s still recommended to clean and dry the blades after use.
Get the Ezarc PVC pipe cutters on Amazon or Ezarc.
Cutting through PVC pipe doesn’t need to be difficult. Ratcheting PVC pipe cutters, such as this Ridgid model, are designed to gradually slice through PVC pipes with a ratcheting mechanism that prevents the blade from opening and releasing the pipe. Each subsequent squeeze on the handles closes the blade further until it cuts cleanly through the PVC.
This tool can cut through CPVC, polypropylene (PP), PEX, polyethylene (PE), and rubber tubing. It features ergonomic grips to help improve user comfort and control, but the grips are intentionally spaced at ½-inch increments so that they can double as a pipe-measuring scale. These pipe cutters are suitable for pipes ranging from ⅛ of an inch to 1⅝ of an inch in diameter. It should also be noted that although the blades appear to be alloy steel, the manufacturer does not provide the actual material, so this cannot be stated definitively; the cutter does feature a quick-change system for blade replacement.
Get the Ridgid PVC pipe cutters at The Home Depot, Amazon, or Toolup.com.
Made to cut PVC pipe up to 1¼ inches in diameter, this set of spring-loaded PVC pipe cutters is an affordable option to have on hand for DIY jobs around the home. The pipe cutters have a heat-treated, sharpened steel blade that slices down into heavy-duty aluminum jaws to cut through PVC pipe. When the job is done, secure the blade with the built-in catch ring to help avoid injury or damage to the blade.
The main drawback to using spring-loaded PVC pipe cutters such as this Orbit PVC pipe-cutting tool is that users must rely on their own strength to cut through the pipe, similar to using scissors. However, the heavy-duty aluminum body and the padded ergonomic grip on the handles help reduce hand fatigue and muscle strain.
Get the Orbit PVC pipe cutters on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Manual cutters, spring-loaded cutters, and handsaws are all limited by the physical capabilities of the user, but with this Milwaukee electric PVC pipe cutter, anyone capable of squeezing the trigger can cut through PVC pipe up to 2⅜ inches in diameter. This means that the pipe cutter can be used on up to 2-inch schedule 80 PVC pipe. The electric cutter shears through PVC, CPVC, PEX, ABS, nonmetallic conduit, and rubber tubing with a pierce point that prevents burrs or shavings on the cut material.
It’s equipped with a built-in battery-power display gauge to help keep track of the remaining battery power, as well as a variable speed trigger, so the user is in control of how fast or slow the blade moves through the pipe. Just keep in mind that this electric pipe cutter comes at a high price and does not include the battery or charger.
Get the Milwaukee PVC pipe cutters at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Acme Tools.
Pipe cutters with specially made jaws and cutting wheels are an excellent option for common pipe sizes, but this heavy-duty handsaw by Hautmec is a better choice for users who tend to run into unexpected pipe materials or large-diameter pipes. The handsaw can cut through wood, PVC, CPVC, ABS, PPVC, CPVC, polypropylene-random (PP-R), PEX, PE, rubber tubing, PP, multilayer tubing, and soft metals such as nails.
This saw has a carbon-steel blade with double-cut razor teeth to make quick work of soft materials. It can be used on pipes up to 8 inches in diameter and features a quick-release mechanism intended to adjust the position of the blade by up to 70 degrees either up or down. However, the length of the saw makes it a poor option for working in tight spaces.
Get the Hautmec PVC pipe saw on Amazon.
Dealing with large-diameter PVC pipes can be difficult without the right tools because most pipe cutters are limited by the cutting capacity of their jaws. Handsaws are the exception to this problem because they have no jaws, allowing the serrated blades to cut through pipes of any size. However, the serrated blade can often create burrs and crude edges, so whenever possible, it’s better to use an alternative pipe-cutting tool, such as this Qwork manual pipe cutter.
This tool has a wide cutting jaw for use on PVC pipe ranging from 1 to 3 inches in diameter. The cutter has a heavy-duty steel construction and high-quality steel blade to slice cleanly through PVC. It is also designed with a long shank and an oversize adjustment handle that is easy to grip and turn, helping to keep the blade tight against the pipe as the cutter is rotated around the material. Just keep in mind that hand and muscle fatigue are an ever-present risk with manual pipe cutters.
Get the Qwork PVC pipe cutter on Amazon.
Don’t invest in a light-duty pipe cutter that falls apart after a few uses when this heavy-duty Husky PVC cutter is an option. The ratcheting cutter has a durable rust-resistant body, and it’s covered by Husky’s lifetime warranty, so users know that if the tool fails, they can return it for a replacement. This product is suitable for cutting PVC, CPVC, PP, PEX, and PE pipe up to 2 inches in diameter, though it isn’t intended for use on metal, wire, or nails.
The ratcheting PVC pipe cutter has a quick-release blade mechanism that makes it easy to replace the blade, though it should be noted that the manufacturer does not indicate the material from which the blade is made. The blade appears to be alloy steel, but this cannot be stated definitely.
Get the Husky PVC pipe cutter at The Home Depot.
Take advantage of the ratcheting action offered by the Irwin PVC pipe cutter to cut through tough PVC pipe up to 1½ inches in diameter. For a budget option, shoppers can choose the Ezarc PVC pipe cutter, a manual option that can handle aluminum, stainless steel, or PVC pipe up to 2 inches in diameter.
Due to the wide variety of pipe cutters, including manual, ratcheting, spring-loaded, electric, and even handsaws, it was necessary to research a broad pool of options to find suitable PVC pipe cutters for this list. The initial consideration during selection was based on the type of PVC pipe cutter as well as the overall quality of the products.
With a range of pipe-cutting tools available, the next factor to help narrow down the potential products was the cutting capacity. PVC pipes can range in diameter, so it was important to have products capable of cutting through both small- and large-diameter PVC pipe. Durable products with blades that boasted substantial resistances to rust and corrosion were preferred over PVC pipe cutters that were more susceptible to water damage. The blade replaceability and ease of use also factored into the final decision for this list of the best PVC pipe cutters.
Even after deciding on a PVC pipe cutter, you may still have questions about PVC pipe-cutting tools. Consider these frequently asked questions and the detailed answers below to learn more about PVC pipe cutters.
Cutting PVC pipe isn’t difficult with the right tools. Some PVC pipe cutters, such as ratcheting or electric cutters, are easier to use, but with a little more effort you can cut through PVC pipe with a manual cutter, spring-loaded cutter, or even a handsaw. Just keep in mind that smaller pipes are generally easier to cut than larger pipes due to the size and thickness of the material.
The price of a PVC pipe cutter depends on the type of cutter, the size of pipe it is designed to handle, and the brand. On average, you can expect to pay from $15 for light-duty manual options to about $200 for an electric pipe cutter.
If you need to cut PVC pipe but cannot get to a store to purchase a suitable PVC pipe cutter, then you can use some PEX pipe cutters to slice through PVC. However, with the range of PVC pipe cutters available online and in stores, it isn’t recommended to rely on an alternative tool that isn’t actually designed for this purpose. Similar to using a set of pliers to hammer in a nail, the tool may get the job done, but you run the risk of damaging the tool and the material.
There are tools specifically made to cut pipe from the inside. They are essentially cutting wheels that can be attached to a standard drill. Users slide the cutting wheel inside the pipe and activate the drill to start cutting through the PVC from the inside.
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