How To Cut PVC Pipe For DIY

PVC pipe or polyvinyl chloride is used in thousands of applications and products. One of the most common uses of PVC pipe is in plumbing and drainage applications for both commercial and residential use. In this article, we give an overview of how to cut PVC pipe and the subsequent fixing methods.

Is Cutting PVC pipe Dangerous?

There are conflicting reports from both sides of the PVC safety debate as to the health risks of the material. The bottom line seems to be that PVC emits the most toxins in the manufacture of the product. From the perspective of how to cut PVC safely, it would seem that applying heat and creating fumes in the cutting method may not be a good idea. However, the methods of cutting PVC pipe outlined here are manual and would not likely cause any fumes to be emitted.

If you are at all concerned about any PVC particles being released while cutting PVC piping by all means wear a mask.

1- Determine the Best Cutting Tools

Plumbing fittings, drainage pipe type, and rigid PVC pipe only come in a few basic sizes, ranging from half-inch to 4 inches for the drain pipe. Most DIY cutting will depend on the tools you have available. PVC cutting tools are mostly limited to;

  • Hacksaws, unless you intend making a lot of cuts this is the most common approach
  • Using a Miter saw, or miter box, is the best way to cut PVC, they are quick, accurate, and clean with little or no clean-up needed. Use a wood-metal combination blade with between a 10 and 14 TPI blade. Can be done with all pipe sizes.
  • Disc grinders with a cutting blade, probably not the best as they tend to cause melting due to the high operating speeds.
  • Scissor-type PVC pipe cutters are a very useful tool for professionals for cutting pipe, not something that a DIYer is likely to buy unless it’s to be used on a regular basis.

2-Measure and Marking larger size pipes

marking pvc pipe

To cut a larger size PVC pipe using a hacksaw is a little tricky if you want a nice square cut. Mark to length with a tape measure. To mark all round accurately use a piece of stiff cardboard, with a straight edge, and simply wrap it around the pipe and mark a line all the way around with your pencil.

3-Hold The PVC Pipe Securely For The Cut

cutting pvc pipe

If using a miter saw or miter box these generally don’t have a way to secure the pipe. Usually, a firm grip on the pipe is all that’s needed to hold while cutting, If your grip isn’t up to it you could try wrapping the pipe with a rubber sleeve where it contacts the saw base to give some extra grip.

For manual cutting place, the pipe is a vice or workstation with adjustable jaws.

4-Cutting With A Miter Saw


Power miter saws to cut PVC pipe is the best way if you have one regardless of the diameter of the pipe, you get a nice clean cut every time Make sure to wear your safety gear of gloves ear and eye protection and, a face mask if the cut is dusty. Holding the pipe can be tricky as miter saws generally don’t have a clamp to hold the pipe. The best way here is to use rubber palmed gloves to ensure you can get a good handgrip on the pipe.

5-Cutting With Hacksaws

For hand cutting with a hacksaw or scissor-style cutters, using a standard bench vise to clamp the pipe is the easiest way, just tighten the vice with enough pressure to stop the pipe from spinning during the cut. If the vice jaws are metal you can wrap the pipe with cardboard or a rag so as not to damage the pipe.

For larger PVC pipes, mark the pipe all the way around and make the cut in quarters by spinning the pipe as you go, the easy way to follow the cut line.

6-Cleaning the PVC Pipe For Connections

cleanup pvc pipe cut

A good cleanup will make the fitting of pipe joins easy and hassle-free, use an edge tool or round file on the inside and sandpaper or a file on the outer cuts. This probably won’t be needed if your cut was done using a miter saw.

7-Connecting and Joining PVC Pipework

Assemble the PVC fittings using PVC cement. There are two types of readily available PVC cement, one type is for nonpressure pipe and the other for pressure pipework. For general DIY pipe fittings such as plumbing sinks, baths, and drainage systems we are only concerned with non-pressurized PVC cement.

Using the applicator brush, wipe cement over both joint fittings and press into each other. Work fairly quickly as the cement will dry quickly and you want both surfaces to be wet with cement glue on contact.

How To Cut Holes In PVC Pipe

There are times when we may need to cut holes in PVC pipe for various projects, this is easily done using a hole saw. Use a battery-powered drill and work a medium speed to cut the pipe hole.

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