How to cut large PVC pipe

Written by amelia allonsy
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How to cut large PVC pipe
Large PVC pipe is too big to be cut with hand ratchet cutters. (pvc image by pearlguy from

PVC pipe is most commonly used for creating plumbing systems, but you could use PVC pipe to build a sprinkler system, a wine rack or even outdoor furniture for your patio. Ratchet cutters cut small-diameter PVC pipe but aren't wide enough to cut large-diameter pipe. You can cut large PVC with a reciprocating saw if a perfect angle and straight edge are not required. A mitre box and hacksaw will allow you to cut a straight edge and perfect angle without power tools. A power mitre saw also works for cutting perfect edges and angles.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Mitre box
  • Hacksaw
  • Power mitre saw
  • Wood block

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  1. 1

    Measure the length of the cut and mark the pipe with a permanent marker.

  2. 2

    Hold the pipe securely in one hand below the measurement mark.

  3. 3

    Cut through the pipe by holding a reciprocating saw at a 90-degree angle with the pipe. Cut slowly to keep the cut in line with the measurement marking.

  4. 4

    Rub the area of the cut with a piece of sandpaper to remove the curly PVC burrs that accumulate on the end of the pipe with the cut.

  1. 1

    Measure the length and mark it on the pipe with a permanent marker.

  2. 2

    Hold the pipe in place between the mitre box's edges. Mount the mitre box to a table so the box itself doesn't move while cutting.

  3. 3

    Line the mark up with one of the cutting slots on the mitre box, depending on if a straight 90-degree angle cut or a 45-degree angle is needed.

  4. 4

    Saw through the measurement line with a hacksaw, using the slots to guide the blade for a clean cut. Work the saw back and forth by pulling it toward you and pushing it away from your body.

  5. 5

    Wipe the burrs from the end of the pipe with a piece of sandpaper.

  1. 1

    Measure the length on the pipe and mark it with a permanent marker.

  2. 2

    Place the pipe across the mitre saw and line the mark up with the blade. Push a small block of wood up against the pipe to keep it from rolling as you cut it.

  3. 3

    Adjust the angle of the blade to fit the angle of the pipe. The saw should have a metal pin that can be removed to pivot the blade and then replace the pin to lock the blade in at that angle.

  4. 4

    Pull the saw blade down with the power off to ensure that the blade is perfectly aligned with the mark.

  5. 5

    Turn the machine on, pull the trigger on the handle and slowly pull down on the saw.

  6. 6

    Pull the blade down until the pipe is cut all the way through.

  7. 7

    Run a piece of sandpaper along the edge of the cut end to remove the plastic burrs.

Tips and warnings

  • A reciprocating saw is usually all that is needed for plumbing applications because the PVC coupling or fitting overlaps with the cut, allowing for a slight margin of error in the straightness of the cut.
  • Most mitre boxes come with one slot for a 90-degree angle and two slots for 45-degree angles facing opposite directions.
  • Always wear safety goggles when working with a mitre saw so that the PVC dust particulates aren't blown in your eyes.

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