After yesterday’s quick review of a Superior Tools pipe cutter, we received a few inquiries about how to properly use such a cutter.
Most if not all rotary tubing and pipe cutters share a similar design. Like a C-clamp, there is always one stationary support, and one adjustable support that is mounted to the end of an adjustment screw. Depending on the manufacturer and tools’ designs, most cutters will either have a stationary roller wheel (or wheels) and a movable cutting wheel, or vice versa.
- Open the tool by loosening the screw and retracting the cutting wheel or roller(s).
- Slide the tubing or pipe into the tool, and turn the adjustment screw to bring the roller wheel(s) and cutting wheel into contact with it.
- Rotate the tool around the clamped or otherwise secured tubing or pipe to start the cut.
- After at least one complete rotational pass, tighten the adjustment screw to engage the cutting wheel deeper into the tubing or pipe. The thickness of and type of the material being cut will determine how much deeper you should engage the material for the next rotational pass.
- Once the tubing or pipe is cut, you will likely need to debur the inner edge of the cut.
Tips on selecting and using tubing and pipe cutters:
- Larger tools are usually better as they offer greater leverage and easier cutting, but match the tool size to the material being cut. For example, a large cutter intended for iron pipe is not exactly suitable for cutting thin walled 1/4″ brass tubing.
- Cutting fluid can be used as lubrication for when cutting very hard or resilient materials.
- Worn or damaged cutter wheel blades should be replaced promptly to avoid frustration, damaged workpieces, and inaccurate cuts.
Check out this Wide Selection of Tubing & Pipe Cutters via Amazon, or head on over to your local hardware store’s plumbing section. You may want to check out your local hobby or art supply store for the smallest size cutters.
Stuart, although owning several pipe/tubing cutters I can admit I usually just grab the handy hacksaw for a quick cut or two.
Given that my ability to make a square cut with the hacksaw has deteriorated over the past few years, I think it is time to revisit the dedicated cutters.
Will, a hacksaw actually is a suitable alternative to a tubing and pipe cutter when dealing with certain materials. However, as you pointed out, you lose the ability to make a more controlled and square cut.
That said, there are many cases when a hacksaw would prove to be mind-breakingly frustrating to use, such as with the aforementioned 1/4″ thin walled brass tubing, and iron pipes.
About how many cuts can you get with a single blade? How do you know when it needs to be replaced?
roughly speaking of course
Uthscaedu, the usable life of a cutting wheel blade depends on too many factors to reliably offer a reliable number of cuts that can be made.
In my experience, blades that need replacing will either physically appear worn or dull, or will cut so sluggishly that it becomes obvious.
When in doubt, you cannot go wrong in replacing the blade too soon. Worst case scenario, if you find that the current blade wasn’t completely worn yet, you can keep it as an emergency spare, or keep using it knowing that a fresh replacement is immediately available.
Once the cutter is on the tube is it better to rotate the cutter so that the blade leads and the rollers follow or should the rollers lead and the cutter follows? I am sure there is probably a correct way that is taught to plumbers.
I don’t know? The way I use it, the cutter follows the rollers around a cut.
If attached to a pipe such that the pipe cutter appears as it does in the photo, I would rotate it counter-clockwise.
Check the securing screw for the cutter. The correct direction should be tightening it so that the cutter does not get loosen. I turn both directions anyway but check to ensure screw is tight or the cut will start to spiral when screw is loose.