Flexible conduit helps to protect electrical wiring from exposure to environmental factors. It can also ground wiring, and it provides a nice, clean appearance. Since each wiring job is different, you’ll need to custom cut each piece of conduit depending on the needs of your job.
Fortunately, learning how to cut flexible conduit is a fairly straightforward task, and you should be able to master it in just a few minutes. While it may seem intimidating at first, you should be able to master cutting conduit if you follow the tips in this guide.
What You’ll Need
Learning how to cut flexible conduit only requires a few simple tools you probably already have at your disposal. Here’s what you’ll need to get the job done:
- Bandsaw (if you’re going to be cutting lots of conduit)
- Bench vise or cutting jig
- Tape Measure
- Metal file
- Work Gloves
Step I: Measuring For the Project
The first thing you’ll need to do is measure how much conduit you’ll need to complete your project.
The path the conduit will take will vary based on your project, and it’s common for the conduit to have to bend or contort to fit your needs.
Start by taking the first measurement from the wiring box. If there’s going to be any turns you need to account for, take those measurements separately, and then add them to your total. The total number you have is how long the conduit will need to be once it’s cut.
Step II: Preparing the Conduit
Once you know how long the conduit needs to be, use your tape measure to measure that distance and put a mark on the conduit to indicate where you’ll need to cut.
Conduit is highly flexible, and it can also extend lengthwise. When cutting conduit, it’s important that you never make a cut when it is extended because it will end up shrinking back to size when you’re finished. You’ll end up with a piece of conduit too short for your needs.
To properly cut conduit, bend it. Bending the conduit will lock the different convolutions in place, so you can achieve a nice clean cut that isn’t going to distort when it returns to its normal shape.
Depending on the tool you’re using to cut the conduit, this next step may vary.
Do a Little Jig
If you’re using a hacksaw to cut the conduit, you’ll want to load the conduit into a jig or vise. If you’re using a bandsaw, you can jump down to step III.
There are several different jigs available that are specifically designed for cutting conduit. Unless you’re regularly working with electrical conduit, buying one is probably not worth the investment. For our purposes, a bench vise will work just as well.
Bend the conduit and load it into your vise, securing it in place. Be sure not to overtighten the vise, as this will damage your conduit, which will make it difficult or impossible for you to load the wire in when you’re finished.
Step III: Cutting the Conduit
Cutting conduit with a bandsaw is quick, easy, and provides a perfect cut every time. But, if you’re working in the field or you’re just cutting a piece of two of conduit, it may not be worth the trouble to get your bandsaw up and running.
If you’re using a bandsaw, turn the saw on, bend the conduit, and slowly feed the conduit through the saw, allowing the blade to do most of the work. As the blade cuts, gently rotate the conduit up and down about 90° until the saw has worked all the way through the conduit.
When you're working in the field or just cutting a piece or two of conduit, a hacksaw is usually the best tool for the job. Before you begin cutting, you’ll want to ensure that you’re using a sharp blade with 24-32 TPI. A dull blade or a blade with fewer TPI will result in a poorly cut piece of conduit that will be difficult to work with.
With your conduit loaded inside your jig or vise, cut along the mark you’ve made in the conduit. Work deliberately, making sure that you’re achieving a nice, even cut as you go.
Step IV: Cleaning Up the Edge
The last thing you’ll want to do is clean up the edge of your conduit. A burred or sharp edge on the conduit will make it dangerous to work with and harder to install. A few quick passes with a metal file will help to remove that edge, which will make the conduit easier to work with.
Learning how to cut flexible conduit is a tool that every DIYer or novice electrician needs in their toolbox. Fortunately, cutting flexible conduit is quite easy, and you’ll be able to do it yourself with just a few tools you probably already have. As always, work smart, work safe and enjoy your project!