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All About Cutting PVC Pipe

I have an irrigation system in my yard. It is not a new system and sometimes needs a bit of maintenance. I often need to cut the PVC pipe when repairing a leak or adding an extension to the system.

A standard home irrigation system is made up of one half inch pipe. This is a fairly narrow pipe, which makes it easy to work with. There are several ways to cut it. The goal in cutting PVC is always to get a straight and clean cut. A straight and clean cut will fit much better into a connector piece than a curved cut or ragged cut piece will.



ABOVE: Ratchet PVC Cutter

You can use a hacksaw to cut any size PVC. A hacksaw is a fairly inexpensive tool. A hacksaw does leave a bit of a raged end which you need to sand to be smooth before connecting it to the system. It can also be a challenge with a hacksaw to get a straight cut. With practice you can probably get pretty good at cutting fairly straightly and sanding the edges. If you are preparing a piece of PVC on a workbench a hacksaw will work pretty well. However, I often find myself cutting a piece of PVC that is part of my system, and so in the ground. It can be pretty awkward to get a hacksaw down into there without a lot of excavation.

In most hardware stores you find ratchet cutters designed to cut PVC. I have seen these priced at under twenty dollars, and they often come in a little kit with some other pieces for working on irrigation systems. In my own experience these work extremely well with half inch PVC pipe. You get a very nice clean cut. I have tried to cut pipe larger than one half inch, and have not had as good results. You do still get a clean cut, but the cut is not quite straight.

Klein Tools PVC Pipe Cutter

ABOVE: Heavy Duty PVC Cutter

If you do need to cut PVC for irrigation that is thicker than one half inch you might consider a heavy duty PVC cutter. I had to make some repairs to a main line in my system that was three quarters of an inch. To do that I purchased a heavy duty PVC cutter from Klein Tools. These will cost quite a bit more than the basic cutter, so I wouldn't recommend them if you only need to cut one half inch pipe.

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