Whether you’re tackling some interior or exterior plumbing, or you’re building your next project with galvanized piping, knowing how to cut it is a lesson that every home craftsman needs to learn. While it may seem intimidating at first, learning how to cut galvanized pipe is actually quite easy.
Today, we’re going to cover everything you’ll need to know about how to cut galvanized pipes, and we’ll share three different ways you can cut it at home. By the time you’re finished with this guide, you should feel confident in your ability to tackle your project.
What You’ll Need
Thankfully, you’ll only need a few simple tools to tackle this job, and chances are you have everything you’ll need in your toolbox already. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pipe cutter, angle grinder or hacksaw
- Bench vise
- Circular file
- Tape Measure
- Safety goggles
- Work gloves
Step I: Measuring the Pipe
Before you get started, you’ll want to take accurate measurements for your pipe. If you’re simply removing a piece of bad piping from existing plumbing, you can skip this step, since measurements won’t matter.
But, if you’re adding a new pipe, or you’re using galvanized piping to build something, like a sports net or a bike rack, you’ll want to take accurate measurements.
When measuring, be sure to account for extra length if you need to thread the end(s) of the pipe. Once you’ve taken your measurement, use your marker to mark the spot around the entire circumference of the pipe.
Step II: Cutting the Pipe
This step will differ pretty widely depending on the job you’re working on, and the tools you’re using for the job.
For example, if you’re cutting existing pipe from a tight spot, you’ll likely need to use a pipe cutter or angle grinder to get the job done. Meanwhile, if you’re cutting new pipe, you’ll be able to use a pipe cutter, angle grinder, or hacksaw, depending on which you feel most comfortable working with.
Using a Pipe Cutter
Using a pipe cutter is the easiest and least labor-intensive way to cut galvanized piping. If you took a measurement, you'd want to tighten the pipe cutter onto the pipe at the point you’ve measured. Otherwise, attach the pipe cutter wherever it’s easiest for you.
Once you’ve tightened the pipe cutter onto the pipe, spin the pipe cutter around the pipe, so the cutting wheel can go to work. Depending on how thick the pipe you’re working with is, you may need to spin the pipe cutter around the pipe 10-20 times before the cut is complete.
Using an Angle Grinder
If you don’t have a pipe cutter handy, using an angle grinder is your next best bet. Since you’ll be cutting metal, you can expect sparks and metal shavings to be flying through the air, so using safety gear is crucial.
At a minimum, you’ll want to wear gloves and safety goggles when working with metal. I also like to wear pants, long sleeves and work boots, so I can keep myself safe from any flying metal shavings.
If you’re working with new pipe, clamp the pipe into a bench vise to keep the pipe steady. You’re now ready to begin your cut.
Turn the angle grinder on and hold it perpendicular to the pipe. Begin cutting through the pipe at the line you’ve marked. Apply light and even pressure as the grinder works its way through the pipe.
Using a Hacksaw
If you don’t have a pipe cutter or angle grinder handy, your trusty hacksaw is the next best option.
You’ll want to use a hacksaw blade designed for cutting metal with 14-18 TPI. Blades with a higher TPI will wear down prematurely and make it difficult or impossible to cut through the pipe, especially if you’re cutting multiple pieces of pipe.
Clamp the pipe into a bench vise before you begin cutting. Then, begin cutting the pipe at the mark you made, using strong, even strokes away from your body.
Step III: Cleaning Up Your Work
Whether you’ve used a pipe cutter, angle grinder or hacksaw, your pipe is likely going to have a burred edge which will make it difficult to attach fittings. It also presents a safety hazard, as you can easily cut yourself on the edge of the pipe.
To remove the burr from the pipe, use a round metal file around the inside and outside of the pipe to remove the burr and leave a nice smooth edge.
Cutting pipe is a basic skill that every novice plumber or home craftsman will need in their arsenal. Fortunately, learning how to cut galvanized pipe is much easier than it looks. Follow the tips in this guide, and you’ll be able to make quick work of your next galvanized pipe project.