How to use a soil pipe cutter

Written by c.l. rease
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Cast-iron and clay soil pipe will snap to length when you exert pressure on a scored section of the exterior surface of the pipe. Soil pipe cutters use a chain containing sharp wheel-style blades to score and snap soil pipe. Soil pipe cutters come with either a single-stroke or a ratchet-action cutting capability. Although both types of soil cutters cut use a similar method, a ratchet-action soil pipe cutter eases the strain involved in producing a cut, but operates in a slightly different manner than a single-stroke cutter.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Soapstone
  • 1/2-inch plywood to set pipe on
  • Wire brush
  • Ratchet handle

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  1. 1

    Measure and mark a cut on a length of soil pipe with a tape measure and soapstone.

  2. 2

    Lift the end of the soil pipe. Set a piece of 1/2-inch plywood under the area of the pipe you marked to cut with the soapstone. Set the pipe down on the plywood.

  3. 3

    Remove dirt and debris from the soil cutter chain with a wire brush. Inspect the chain of the soil pipe cutter for rust, broken blades and loose links as you clean it. If you notice any problems with the soil pipe cutter, fix the problems before using it.

  4. 4

    Lift the end of the soil pipe. Slide the chain of the pipe cutter between the soil pipe and the plywood. Make sure the open side of the pipe cutter is facing up. Set the pipe on top of the cutting chain.

  5. 5

    Connect the closest link of the cutting chain to the open upper jaw of the pipe cutter.

  6. 6

    Turn the pressure screw clockwise to pull the chain tight to the soil pipe. If your soil pipe cutter does not have a pressure screw, attach a ratchet handle to the cutter and turn the ratchet handle clockwise to tighten the chain.

  7. 7

    Push the handle 1 inch away from you, then pull the handle 2 inches back toward you. You should have a score line extending around the soil pipe. If you do not have a complete score line, repeat the process, moving the handle 2 inches away from you and then pulling the handle back toward you.

  8. 8

    Turn the ratchet handle clockwise continuously until the soil pipe snaps at the score line. This completes the cut.

Tips and warnings

  • Always wear safety glasses when using s soil pipe cutter.

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