Plumbing: How to Cut Copper Pipes

Copper is used for a whole host of electrical equipment, appliances, and water supply pipes. Usually, copper water pipes are around half an inch in diameter and must be cut to the correct length. There are a number of ways to cut copper pipes – from using a hacksaw to a metal cutting blade.

Some plumbing tools are better for professional work, while others are affordable and easier for DIYers to get a hold of. Here is how to cut a copper pipe safely and efficiently. 

Cut the copper with a pipe cutter

The most precise tool available is a pipe cutter. It produces a perfectly straight edge, and there is no risk of the tube being crushed.  

To use a pipe cutter, you need to put the copper tube between the wheel and the rollers of the cutter. Turn the handle of the cutter, so the wheel slowly cuts into the cooper. Repeat the process until the wheel has cut into the surface of the copper tube. 

Metal cutting blades come in various sizes, and it’s important to use the appropriate one for your pipe. For example, a grinder blade is on the smaller side and operates at a higher revolution speed, making it easier to get into confined spaces and cut installed copper pipes. You may have to cut pipes once they have been installed and manoeuvre your tools around the tight space. Pipe cutters can also be used for pipes with much larger diameters – you just need to use a larger blade.

Clean the edge

It’s normal for small burrs to form on the side of the tube when cutting it. However, these burrs can make it difficult to assemble the pipes and install them efficiently. You can use the reamer built into the copper pipe and use two or three turns to clean the edge. 

Please remember that for plumbing jobs, you must remove the burrs or raised edges inside the pipe. These ridges can cause water to make loud swishing noises as it travels through the pipes. Burrs can even lead to corrosion and pinhole leaks over time, leading to much bigger problems. Sand down any rough edges now so the copper pipes work seamlessly for years to come. 

Alternative method: cut the tube with a hacksaw

If the tubes aren’t already installed, you can use a hacksaw to make a clean cut. A hacksaw is a hand-driven tool with a very thin blade. Use the hacksaw gently to cut the tube and only use it on non-plumbing projects. A hacksaw is easy to use, and the thin blade makes a precise cut. 

Always read the instructions before operating a tool and wear the appropriate protective gear.

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