How To Cut PVC Pipe Straight (In 6 Easy Steps)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

PVC can be used in many different applications. Being able to cut it straight oftentimes makes a difference. And while those with the necessary experience may have an easier time getting that straight cut, it might not be so automatic for those with lesser experience.

So, how do you cut a PVC pipe straight? It can be as simple as a hacksaw and some duct tape. That is all that is required to get a clean, simple cut every time. Having power tools just makes the job a bit quicker and easier, but anyone can do it.

This article will walk you through the correct ways for you to cut your PVC pipe straight. That way, no matter what job you’re taking on, you’re able to get it done the right way!

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Cutting PVC Pipe Straight

Since PVC doesn’t necessarily bend, shape or mold, it’s important that you cut it straight especially when attaching other fixtures or fittings onto it. In the event that you don’t cut it straight, this could cause an issue in the overall project. So, we’ve included some steps below to help you cut the PVC pipe straight to bypass any potential problems later on.

Step 1: Measure Twice And Cut Once

The first step towards accurately cutting PVC pipe is to measure out the length that you want to cut. Use a ruler to achieve this and make sure that you make note of the spot by marking it off with a pencil. It is important to use a pencil because you can then go back and make changes to your measurements later on if you aren’t happy with them.

The old adage is “measure twice, cut once.” That rings true with PVC. You can always go back and remark your measurements, you can’t perform the cut twice. Getting an accurate cut on anything requires a solid measurement before performing the cut.

Step 2: Mark The Lines With Tape

After marking your measurement, the next step is to wrap duct tape around the pipe. Wrap the duct tape so that the outside edge of the tape will line up with the mark that you made in the previous step.

Doing this is to give you a guide. Making a 360-degree mark with a pencil will more often than not result in an uneven line. This is where the uneven cut comes into play. By using the duct tape as a guide, you now have a smoother, more consistent way to mark a 360-degree line.

Step 3: Drawing Our Line

Now that we have the duct tape in place to act as a guide, it is time to draw in the line using a pencil. Place the point of the pencil up against the edge of the tape and trace all the way around the pipe. The tape will help to keep your tracing as smooth and even as possible, ensuring a more even cut.

Step 4: Remove Tape And Place

With the smooth, even line in place, it is time to take off the tape. The tape is merely a guide for the pencil marking, not to remain there for the duration of the cutting process. Take the time to carefully peel off and remove any duct tape from the pipe.

When you have removed the duct tape, place your PVC pipe in a vise, and then tighten it so that it is securely in place. Another major cause of uneven cuts is movement during the cutting process. The bench vise will keep the pipe from moving, allowing for a smoother, straighter cut.

Step 5: The Cut

First and foremost, make sure that you have your safety equipment on before using a saw, especially a power saw. Goggles should be a must and gloves are another measure of protection from any flying debris.

When it is time to cut, line the blade of the saw up (either a miter or hacksaw) on the inside edge of the pencil mark. Begin cutting carefully and slowly. You can stop and rotate the pipe if that makes things easier; continue the cutting process until you have two separate pieces.

If you do use a hacksaw, make sure to use long, slow strokes. This is because the faster movement can result in the blade overheating, which can make it difficult to remove burrs on the edge and interior of the pipe.

Step 6: Take Out The Burrs

As is the case any time that there are motion and separation of any kind, burrs will appear. These are small imperfections in the edges and interior edges of the materials. Depending on just how precise the job is, this can result in the pipe to sit unevenly against its mate.

Use fine-grit sandpaper to bring out those burrs. You’re not looking to be too aggressive, the PVC is not a heavy-duty material that requires a lot of effort. Simply clean off the edges before moving forward with any kind of assembly.

Get It Done At The Store

If you feel like you may not have the tools or experience needed to properly cut PVC pipe, there are always stores that offer those services. Some will do so for free, others require a small fee. The point being that you can skip that step should you so desire.

This can be helpful for those who aren’t on super tight budgets or want to free up time for other applications. However, not all stores offer this service so you may need to check around before hauling all of your materials to one store. Home Depot will custom fit and thread your PVC pipe for you.

You can also check your local home improvement stores aside from Lowes and Home Depot. You’ll be surprised at how many people out there offer this service!

How Much Does It Cost To Have Your PVC Pipe Cut?

Depending on where you go, it might not cost you anything. Or, some places will offer 10 cuts for free while charging $0.25 per cut thereafter. It really depends on where you go or who you ask to cut your pipes.

Something else you can do is call a friend or a family member. Or, use Craigslist to hire someone to do this for you but make sure they’re experienced. More often than not, you can pay individuals a flat fee to do the cuts for you so that you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself.

Can You Use A Dremel To Cut PVC?

Depending on the thickness of the PVC pipe, it is actually possible to make your cut using a Dremel. This all depends on the diameter, though in most cases, the Dremel should do the job with a Saw-Max fit. Using a Dremel may actually be preferable to some as it can provide more precise cutting, though it will take a little longer than a standard saw.

Related Questions

Does Home Depot cut pipe?

When you go into the plumbing department of Home Depot, there is usually a pipe thread cutter that you can use for both galvanized and black pipes. Some stores have a self-service cutter while others have associates who will assist you with cutting. It all really depends on your local store.

It’s best if you call ahead of time to check to see if this is something they do.

Does Ace Hardware cut pipe?

Yes, Ace Hardware does cut pipe upon request. However, they may charge a fee for this service depending on your local store. Some of them have stations where you can cut the pipe yourself before you bring it home. This helps so you don’t have to scram and do it last minute while you’re doing the project. Make sure you bring your measurements with you.

Can you cut PVC pipe with a miter saw?

You can use a miter saw to cut PVC pipe if you need to cut out large quantities. However, they’re not great for smaller cuts. The downside is that they’re super expensive so not everyone has one of these. You can, on the other hand, rent one from Home Depot or Lowes, or borrow from a friend or family member if you’re only needing it for this single project.

It’s important that you know how to use one, and that you do so carefully. Use the wood blade to cut the PVC pipe so that you don’t have to go out and purchase an expensive special blade.

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Why PVC?

PVC has become one of the most dependable, durable options for any construction project. Depending on the exposure that it undergoes, it can remain serviceable for 100 years or more. Not only is it built to last a long time, but it is also quite resilient against freezing conditions.

The average water main that uses PVC will last for nearly a half-century before needing to be replaced. In areas that experience extreme cold, PVC has proven to be a durable, effective material that gets the job done.

PVC is also quite cost-effective. With the durability and low cost of PVC, it only makes sense that PVC is such a common building material across all platforms. Until a superior alternative is created, it will continue to be one of the most popular options.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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