Expand the sections below for information on choosing the right pipe cutter for your next project.
Choosing the right pipe cutter rental starts with knowing what type of pipe you need to cut. The right tool will help you get a clean, square cut, which makes it easier to fit the pipe correctly. Avoid multitools, which don’t cut any type of pipe especially well.
Cutting copper pipe
Use a wheeled pipe cutter to cut copper. The tool gets its name from the wheels that slice around the pipe. Pipe cutters for smaller copper pipes have two wheels, while pipe cutters for larger pipes typically have four or more wheels.
Copper piping is used in water supply and drain lines and in refrigerant lines in HVAC systems.
Cutting steel pipe and cutting iron pipe
Pipes made of iron or steel are stronger than copper pipes and generally larger. A hinged pipe cutter will cut through them cleanly. For larger 4-inch to 6-inch pipe, rent a heavy-duty manual pipe cutter. Slicing iron or steel can be physically draining work, so consider a powered pipe cutter if you have a lot of pipe to cut.
Iron and galvanized steel pipes are common in the plumbing systems of older homes. Steel is used in vehicle exhaust pipes and muffler condensation pipes.
Cutting waste pipe
Pipes that carry waste, also known as soil pipes, are often made from cement, clay or cast iron. You’ll need a soil pipe cutter, also called a snap cutter, to cut these pipes properly. These cutters have a chain with cutting discs. A cast iron pipe snap cutter rental is ideal for cutting cast iron, but cast iron can also be cut with a hack saw, reciprocating saw or angle grinder.
Septic tank lines and older city sewer lines often use these materials.
Cutting PVC and PEX pipes
Some handheld manual cutters are inexpensive and are typically purchased, not rented. These include PVC cutters and PEX cutters.
Cutting PVC pipes
You can cut PVC with a hacksaw or a PVC cutter. Take the time to line up a clean, square cut. When trimming PVC, don’t cut the pipe when it’s cold. The plastic becomes brittle at lower temperatures, which can lead to cracking.
PVC piping is used in sewer, water and irrigation systems.
Cutting PEX pipe
To cut pipes made of PEX (cross-linked polyethylene, a type of flexible plastic), you’ll need a PEX cutter. These tools, which look like pliers, have a razor edge designed to cut through the soft tubing in one pinch, leaving a straight edge.
PEX pipes are used in water supply systems, especially in new residential construction.
Once you’ve made your cut, ream or smooth the pipe to remove any imperfections or burrs from the inside surface. Even small imperfections can cause material to get stuck, eventually leading to clogs and poor performance.
Pipe reamers come in a variety of sizes, such as this manual pipe reamer designed for ¼-inch to 2-inch gauge pipe and conduit. Some manual reamers can be mounted onto a power drill. It’s important to choose one that fits the pipe you’re working with.
Once you choose a pipe cutting machine rental, grab your PPE. Wear heavy-duty gloves when using a pipe cutter, which can create extremely sharp edges. Wear safety goggles or a full-face shield to protect your eyes and skin from metal shavings. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants made of heavy material and steel-toed boots.