How to Cut Copper Pipe Without a Pipe Cutter

What and how to cut a copper pipe?

Copper is a naturally soft and flexible metal. It is possible to cut a copper pipe of different diameter with different tools. Handle copper pipe with care. Avoid great force to avoid dents, flattening and other deformations of the pipe.

The pipe cutter is a tool that resembles a vise. The pipe cutter produces a perfect cut with almost no shavings. An important point. you control the rotational speed of the pipe cutter. The model can be matched to the specific diameter of the pipe.

Angle grinder is equipped with diamond-coated discs, which are used for cutting metal pipes, including copper. The advantages of this method include a wide choice of speeds of angle grinder.

You can use this method to cut the pipe if you don’t have an angle grinder or pipe cutter handy. Cutting with a hacksaw is not a good quality cut, it leaves a lot of remains (sawdust) and the process is quite slow.

We mark the place of the future cut on the pipe with a felt-tip pen or marker, adding a few centimeters for threading.

The disc of the angle grinder must be against the marked line, perpendicular to the pipe. Pressing the cutting wheel lightly against the pipe carefully cut it.

Cutting with the pipe cutter: the pipe is inserted with the pipe cutter so that the cut is in line with the cutting wheel and is clamped with the pipe cutter roller. Make a full revolution of the pipe cutter around the axis of the pipe, the pipe does not rotate. Then the roller is clamped again and the next turn of the pipe cutter is made. Repeat this several times until the cut is completed.

Given the fact that copper is soft, in the process of cutting it is not necessary to put pressure on the hacksaw, it should cut under its own weight.

it is recommended to use an angle grinder to cut the pipe up to the middle from one side, and then turn the pipe around on the other side. This provides a fairly even cut, there will be no unnecessary slopes and bevels.

After cutting the cut pipe edge must be cleaned and burrs removed with a file or emery paper.

Burrs and roughness can also be removed with a tapered internal and external reamer.

You can grind with an angle grinder with a special attachment.

It is not necessary to use high rotational speed of the angle grinder head, the edge of the pipe should be without bevels and kinks, which provides maximum tightness when joining with another pipe.

How do you cut a steel pipe?

For cutting steel pipes, one of the following tools is chosen:

  • The pipe-cutting tool;
  • Electromechanical circular saw;
  • Gas cutting of pipes;
  • Plasma cutting of pipes;
  • Special pipe-cutting machines;
  • Also special abrasive cutting machines are used;
  • Band saws;
  • And machines for cutting pipes.

At home you can use many different tools, for example, in almost every home you can find a metal hacksaw, with which you can cut a pipe, while spending a lot of effort and time. The result of such sawing will also be of low quality, so we recommend using an electric tool, such as a circular saw, which will speed up the process of cutting, as well as improve the quality of the result.

chain pipe cutter for steel pipes

The best solution for cutting small pipes is plasma or gas cutting. Small machines with a mechanical or manual drive will also make a high-precision cut with quality edges. Using such a tool, you can make cuts of different thicknesses and angles without losing precision.

Laser cutting can help achieve the most perfect cut, but it is not reasonable for home sawing because of high equipment cost. Laser technology is only used in production facilities where products are mass-cut into blanks of desired length. They can be used to cut pipes of different diameters, and not only in pieces.

Tools and fixtures

To roll out tubes made of copper one uses special devices. Such devices can have both manual and electric drive. They are used for installation of air conditioning systems, water supply and heating systems. Tools equipped with an electric drive often combine several functions: with their help it is possible not only to roll a copper tube, but also to bend it at the desired angle.

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Any device that is used for flaring tubes made of copper, works on the principle of plastic deformation, so it is very important that it coped with such a process as gently as possible, without violating the homogeneity of the material structure, while maintaining the uniformity of the wall thickness of products, as well as the smoothness of their inner surface.

A diagram of a proper flare and examples of an incorrect flare

To make a good job of flaring copper tubes (even if you are doing it yourself for the first time), you can use one of the following tools.

This is a cone-shaped dummy made of a harder metal alloy than copper. The advantages of this device are its low price and ease of use. But its use may cause bursting of the copper product walls, which leads to poor quality of the flare.

You can roll a single tube with this simplest tool, but there is no quality to speak of

The main working body of this device is a carbide roll, which, rolling over the edge of the copper tube, gives the latter the desired configuration. The use of a mechanical pipe flattener allows a uniform deformation of the machined section of the tube, forming the walls of the same thickness on the end of the tube with a high quality of their inner surface.

Hand tool is able to provide high quality of flaring and good speed of operation

Such tool with the set of changeable nozzles possesses all advantages of a mechanical tool and allows to make flaring of copper pipes with higher productivity and with less labour input. Possibly the only disadvantage of the electric pipe flare tool is its rather high price.

The battery of this beater has enough capacity for about 100 operations

This lever-operated hand tool enables you to flare the end of the tube in one movement. Though simple in design, this tool has some serious drawbacks, the most significant of which is the impossibility to control the wall thickness of the tool. So using an expansion pin, which is the most common choice of those who perform flaring by themselves, does not guarantee a quality result.

How to cut and bend copper pipes

Copper pipes are good because they are not difficult and easy to bend and cut. Bending copper pipes is a process that requires a certain skill and skill, because copper is a very soft material that must be handled with care. To date, in practice, there are several reliable methods of cutting and bending copper pipes.

Hand bender and its features

With a manual bender you can carefully bend the pipe directly to the place of installation or repair, or fix it on the workbench. When using a pipe bender, the risk of crimping, flattening and buckling is minimal. Using a hand bender for copper pipe you can eliminate the need for auxiliary joining elements. It can be used to bend copper pipes according to the desired size and shape.

When using a spring bender any deformation of the pipe walls is excluded, in connection with that the correct bending of the pipe at a predetermined angle is obtained. Spring bender for copper pipe is used as follows:

The pipe cutter is ideal for cutting pipes

The copper pipe cutter will save you a considerable amount of time when cutting pipes. The pipe cutter can also be used for deburring pipes and prior to any preparatory installation work.

Using the pipe cutter you can effortlessly get a perfectly straight cut, avoiding deformation of the pipe regardless of its diameter.

Working on copper pipe with a pipe cutter

Copper pipes are cut using a special pipe cutter or pipe scissors perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the pipe.

While using a cutter for copper pipes you must be careful because the inner edge of the cut is sharp.

straight cut

It is possible to make an even cut at an angle of 90º only after the marking is made. Use a piece of paper or masking tape. The last one is preferable, because it is attached directly to the surface and does not move.

The sequence of operations is as follows

  • measure a certain length with a tape measure, mark the place with a dash marker.
  • Next, tape around the circumference of the pipe at the marking obtained. The flatter you stick the tape, the better. optimally, the wide edges should come together as precisely as possible. This will allow you to make an accurate cut of the pipe at the mark.
  • The next step is to clamp the pipe in a vice or hold it against a flat surface so that it does not shift during the work, and an even weld is obtained. Note that one end of the pipe must be left in a free position so that during cutting the disc is not clamped by the walls. Start cutting from the top down.
  • The last thing to watch for. How to cut a pipe evenly with an angle grinder. For this purpose it is necessary to lead the disk as precisely as possible along the edge of the adhesive tape.
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When cutting pipe products with large cross-sections, the work must be done in small sections. To do this, the pipe will have to be constantly rotated around the axis at the end of the next notch.

When working with cast iron pipes the scheme of operations will be somewhat different. First, a continuous incision is made across the entire diameter of the product, then a chisel and hammer are used to gradually tap the resulting groove, which should split the pipe strictly along the line of incision.

Suggestions for home rolling

for any method of processing it is necessary to aim to get a smooth mirror surface of the pipe without grooves, dents, gaps, and misalignments, different wall thicknesses. Leak tightness of connections depends on quality of flaring in future.

It is desirable to make expansion with help of special tool. it provides acceptable quality of goods at least. Uneven wall expansion, cracks and crevices can cause bursts in the future and hence leaks in copper pipes. And the leakage of water or freon from the system for the conditioner can cause a lot of troubles.

How to make a tool

If you need to flare just one copper pipe, you can clamp it in a vice and gently screw in a cone of appropriate diameter. The taper mandrel will have to be made or ordered from a turner. Sometimes a ball from a bearing welded to a rod is used.

If you need several tubes, and buying a tool is not in your plans, you can make a simple device with your own hands. You need two pieces of angle 32×32 or 49×40 mm. You can use segments of profile pipe. Fix the angles with bolts (M8) and nuts. Drill a few holes in the center of the structure for different diameters of pipes you want to work on. Bevel the holes. Mandrels (cones, dies) are made on a lathe (to be ordered from the turner) according to the dimensions shown in the figure. Steel is better to use structural carbon or alloy, conventional steel St.3 too soft.

How to flare copper pipe

The workpiece is clamped in the manufactured fixture. The end of the workpiece should protrude above the level of the holder for 5-6 mm. Then a conic die is carefully and slowly screwed into the tube, the edge of the tube expands and forms the bell.

Then pull out the set piece, check the shape and dimensions of the socket; if necessary, use a cone to adjust the expansion parameters.

Rules of operation and maintenance

The pipe cutter requires a lot of care just like any other tool:

  • Do not overload the machine unnecessarily during operation.
  • Periodically clean off chips and other contaminants. Change blades in good time.
  • Check and correct slack in the guides and cutter rollers.
  • Clean the surfaces of the working rollers, the feed screw after work with a special agent and treat with grease.
  • Store the machine in a warm, dry place.

Tools to be used

Cutting pipes is a fairly simple operation, but the correct pipe cutting, when the cut is exactly at right angles to the surface of the product. the procedure is responsible. And if you have to trim parts of the engineering system at a different angle, then without the advice of an experienced builder (about myself I modestly remain silent) can not do.

And I’m not talking about cutting large diameter pipes. In this case, too, in order to ensure proper welding or bonding, it is necessary to maintain an angle of 90 degrees.

For any cutting operation there is special equipment. This is what I want to talk about first.

For individual use

This category of tools is used in private and small commercial construction for the arrangement of piping systems (water supply, heating, sewerage, ventilation) of small diameter.

Personally, I’ve used these devices in my practice:

Pipe scissors allow you to make the cut quickly and correctly.

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In order to provide the necessary force, the jigs are equipped with a toothed mechanism. Before you cut a metal-plastic pipe (or a product made of polypropylene), it must be placed on a special shelf. The design feature of the secateurs will not allow to install the part crookedly, so the cut will always be made at right angles to the surface.

The price of such products starts at 10 dollars and can go up to 100. Depends on the manufacturer, material, size and so on.

  • Disk pipe cutter. Device for cutting pipes, in which the cutting part is made in the form of a disk of very durable material with sharpened edges. It is pressed against the wall of the pipe with a lever and pulled around its circumference.

Large diameter pipes can be cut with the pipe cutter.

I use the disc pipe cutter to cut PVC pipes for indoor and outdoor sewers. Do not use it for metal plastic, because the applied force will distort the thin-walled material.

  • Guillotine. You can imagine the features and principle of operation of this cutting device if you have seen the instrument of execution used in medieval France.

Guillotine with screw for even cutting of pipes.

At the top there is a knife, which along the guides goes down on the pipe, located at the bottom. I most often used one for cutting large amounts of pipe and the unit was equipped with an electric drive. However, there are models on sale with a screw.

  • Metal hacksaw. Suitable for cutting pipes of any material into desired lengths. My grandfather taught me how to use it. Here the special secret is to apply a strictly dosed force, otherwise the blade will break.

Metal hacksaw. the simplest tool for cutting pipes of any material.

After making the cut with a hacksaw, burrs form on the end of the pipe. You have to get rid of them with a shaver or file. Otherwise the pipe connection can be leaky.

  • angle grinder. In case you don’t know, it’s an ordinary angle grinder. It is equipped with a special disc for cutting, after which you can cut both small and large diameter pipes.

An angle grinder in skilled hands turns into an effective pipe cutter.

As in the case of the hacksaw, the angle grinder can work with any material: from plastic to metal and cast iron.

  • The jigsaw. You can also use this tool to cut pipes, but even I, a man with considerable experience, did not always get to make a right angle cut.

The jigsaw also cuts pipes, but is it straight??

So there is no need to hammer nails with a microscope, there are simpler ways of cutting.

But first I want to tell you about the professional equipment, which cuts the pipes at industrial enterprises and when laying the main water transport communications.

For industrial use

With local and individual engineering systems we seem to have solved, but the question remains, how to cut a pipe of large diameter evenly. In this case, the help comes to special equipment (often stationary), with which professional builders work.

I used to work as a foreman in a housing and utilities department, so I’ve had to deal with these machines. I will tell you about the most interesting:

  • Turning machines. These machines make any processing of round parts of pipelines, including those used to transport corrosive liquids.

The lathe is capable of perfectly cutting pipes. And not only cut.

The maximum size of the pipes that can be processed depends on the cross-section of the spindle holes and the distance between the mounting heads. In addition to simple cutting, pipe lathes can chamfer, cut pipes and perform other operations, even in automatic mode.

On an industrial scale they lay gas pipelines with a diameter of up to 1600 mm, and, of course, you can not do without scissors or an angle grinder with a trimming wheel. Therefore, the cutting of polypropylene pipes of large diameter is made with a special pipe cutter. For example, for one time cutting, chain driven shears are mostly used, like on the top photo, but for laying industrial pipelines it is surely better to use electric driven cutting tools.

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