Pipe cutters are an essential tool when you’re handling pipes like the PVC. These are great tools to have because it specializes in the material of PVC pipes. PVC pipes are a particular case and are not like most pipes.
These tubes come with a solution that is mostly of plastic. Using a hacksaw or a typical cutting tool might be enough, but it might cause problems long-term. Getting the best PVC pipe cutter will help you get the job done in no time.
Last update on 2019-07-20 at 09:17 PST - Details
Everything you need to know about PVC
Before we discuss the PVC itself, it’s important that we know what we’re cutting in the first place. It helps us further understand the limits and function of the product before using it.
For starters, PVC is an abbreviation for the chemical compound called “polyvinyl chloride. This chemical compound is one of the three most popular solutions used to create a synthetic plastic polymer. The other materials are polypropylene and polyethylene.
With this solution, lies quite an elaborate construction. Plastics, in general, are not easy to cut. These are an entirely different challenge compared to cutting metal and wood, which you can do through sheer sharpness.
Although we’re not about to dive into the chemistry aspect of this, it’s important to understand that PVC is not mainly composed of solid mass. Many developers have tinkered the compound to create a robust construction for many applications.Thus, this has led to the PVC to have almost 60 percent chlorine. Moreover, there is a strong presence of chloride groups which makes the material even stronger and more complicated to destroy. After all, PVC material is meant to be one of the most durable materials out there.
Why is PVC constructed so differently?
To answer this question, it’s all about looking at the applications of PVC. The most common uses of PVC is in the industrial sector, particularly industrial pipes. You can use PVC pipes in a large-scale fashion in sewer drainages and irrigation systems.
The reason for this is because PVC offers a lower price, but at the same time durability against both friction and chemical erosion. Just imagine if you use a steel pipe for a sewer drainage. All the chemicals thrown into a household will cause it to wear down in no time.
The chemical-fighting components of a PVC pipe have side effects, however. One of these is that it changes construction. If you’re going to change how a material reacts with another, its overall design will differ.
With the PVC, its chemical resistance creates more elasticity and a sort of rubber texture with its material. It is the reason why regular saws won’t simply get the job done. Although high-tech tools like a chainsaw can do it, it will leave a terrible edge on the cut. If you’re using the pipe to act as a waterway, an uneven edge could spell a lot of long-term trouble.
The PVC pipe cutter to the rescue
This problem has plagued a lot of homeowners before the invention of the PVC pipe cutter. Although the compound material of the tube might imply that you need a unique material to cut it, it’s the opposite.
PVC pipe cutters are just regular scissor-looking like blades that come from stainless steel. The real trick to cutting PVC pipes lies in the cutting mechanism.
A hacksaw uses a rocking motion to cut objects. On the other hand, a chainsaw uses high-speed rotations to buzz off the material. Some cutters have guillotine like features that make use of gravity and force at the same time.
As for the PVC pipe cutter, it uses a ratchet mechanism. A ratchet mechanism can be quite difficult to understand. However, the only thing that you ought to know is that it makes use of a one-motion mechanism that is gradual.
The specialized pipe cutter applies this principle by having a single blade that you can locate on top of the tube. Ratchet mechanisms use a bar and a wheel to operate, which is why this pair of cutters will have a gear and a metal rod near the handle.
The blade can be fully extended or not, depending on how you set the gear that’s operating the blade. With the blade directly on top of the pipe, you just press the handle, and you’ll notice the blade go down gradually.
Cutting the blade smoothly
The gradual descent of the blade is completely the opposite of guillotine cutters that swiftly cut an object. A PVC pipe cutter will slowly cut the edge by pushing through the PVC pipe’s material. Simply put, before cutting it, you’re driving the blade first.Why does it work this way? Well, it’s because PVC pipes have a bouncy and elastic material. The cutter sinks the blade towards the PVC first. By sinking the blade slowly, it allows a cleaner cut that doesn’t have any shrapnels or shavings. On the contrary, fast or forceful means to cut it will leave bad marks on the edge.
Now that you know that slow and steady beats the PVC pipe cutter learn more about the tool by checking the five best products that we chose! These will help give you a jumpstart on what to look for before buying the device.
Our Top 5 Picks
Milwaukee’s 12 Volt Cordless PVC Shear claims to be a durable yet easy to use the equipment. With its ultra sharp blade and pierce point, Milwaukee boasts that it can cut up to 2” schedule 40 PVC in three seconds. Without any shavings or burrs for you to remove.
The PVC shear makes use of stainless steel blade and aluminum jaw. Both two materials are an impact, water, and rust resistant. Moreover, it also so many more additional features such as the Quick Return Blade and All Metal Planetary Drive.
- It displays the remaining run time with its On Board Fuel Gauge.
- It can deliver precise, controlled cuts in both the cold or warm weather because of its variable speed trigger.
- Its two key features make it a very efficient PVC shear.
- The Quick Return Blade increases the productivity during repetitive cuts while its All Metal Planetary Drive can deliver over 200 cuts per charge.
- It can be a little big and cumbersome for those who want to use very light and small PVC pipe cutters.
- You might have to use both hands to switch from cut to reverse.
- On this note, cutting a pipe that is lighter than a schedule 40 might cause it to break a little too easily.
On the other hand, Orbit’s half an inch to 1” PVC Pipe Cutting Tool features ratcheting jaws to reduce cutting efforts on your part. The blade that comes along with the tool is also a sharp, heat-treated steel that is replaceable.
The handles are rubber covered to ensure safety and non-slipping. As for its build and construction, it is heavy duty aluminum and steel. All in all, Orbit claims to give you a clean, precise and efficient cutting experience.
- It is a very cheap PVC pipe cutter but can do what it says it does.
- Its construction can help you make precise cuts since you will be able to see where the blade will cut through.
- It has the right weight and size even for users who experience problems with their hands.
- It might require a lot of strength and effort to make very accurate cuts.
- It might not cut as precisely with thicker pipes.
As for Ridgid, its Ratcheting Plastic Pipe and Tubing Cutter claims to be able to cut through different PVC pipe sizes from ⅛ inch to 1-5 / 8 inch O.D. capacity. However, aside from pipes, Ridgid’s Pipe and Tubing Cutter can also cut through CPVC, PP, PEX, PE pipes, rubber hose as well as multilayer tubing.
With its “bur-less” cutting operation and ergonomic grip handle, you can achieve a square cut effortlessly. More importantly, Ridgid covers all its products with a lifetime warranty in case of material defects or quality issues.
- Unlike other products or brands, Ridgid offers a lifetime warranty for all of its products.
- It has an X-Cel quick change blade design is high-speed and efficient when trying to change blades.
- It can also help keep you from losing any clips or misplacing screws.
- It has a ratcheting mechanism can make it easier for you to cut through with less effort.
- Heavy duty construction.
- You might have some issues when cutting a 1.5” pipe or making square cuts.
- When debris gets in between the blade and the frame in a closed position, the cutter jams.
Boasting of its heavy duty industrial grade, the Mini Pipe and Tube Cutter is an adjustable tubing cutter with a 3 to 22 mm (1/8 to 55/64 Inches) cutting capacity. Its aluminum alloy body and strong cutting jaws make it very lightweight yet durable both at the same time.
It also features a heavy duty twist knob for easier twisting even with gloves on and wet or cold conditions. But most importantly, it comes with a 100% manufacturer money back guarantee.
- The product offers a 100% manufacturer money back guarantee, unlike other products.
- It can cut through different types of piping and tubing such as Copper, Brass, Metal, Plastic, PVC, Stainless Steel, and others.
- Its weight and size are perfect if you have to bring it with you outside for a project.
- You might need more strength and effort to make a clean cut on steel if you will be using it for steel.
- Due to its size and weight, it might not be ideal for everyday/regular use especially on thicker and sturdier piping and tubings.
Finally, AFA’s PVC cutter comes with a bonus Japanese Steel Blade. Not only does it work for PVC pipes, but it also cuts through other non-metallic pipes such as the PEX, rubber and vinyl tubes. The cutter itself has a lightweight cast aluminum frame.
AFA also claims to deliver minimal pipe cracks even when cutting in cold temperatures. After a heat treatment, the blade is now more wear resistant. Moreover, it comes with a safety feature where the cutter locks in its closed position.
- Its nylon material is very comfortable for the hand grip of even non-professional and first-time users.
- It comes with a free Japanese steel blade to replace the original one.
- It is a very versatile tool to have as it can cut through different hoses, pipes, and tubing.
- It might not be as sturdy for rigorous use.
- The grip can be a little slippery.
All products have their ups and downs. They also have their key features. However, among the products reviewed, Milwaukee’s 12 Volt Cordless PVC Sheer might be a good option.
But at the end of the day, the best PVC pipe cutter for you will be dependent on your needs and the nature of your project as well as the pipe sizes you want to use. Price is not always the basis for a product’s quality, but don’t compromise quality for the price. Safety and quality should always come first.
Thomas Roberge is a Pro himself, who has been in the business of home renovation and construction, working with various tools. He used to be the owner of 2 local construction companies with over 18 years experience. His works also include writing inspiring Do IT Yourself Tips and Tricks.