Need to find a good way to cut up PVC pipe into segments?  Here's a rundown of the best (and most common) ways to do it.

Obviously in order to build any PVC project, you are going to need to cut your PVC pipe down to the right size.  Cutting PVC pipe is very simple, much more so than other building materials.  It can be cut in many different ways, depending upon the tools you have access to.  Here are the top three best methods to cut PVC pipe:

Plastic Pipe Cutter


  • Great if you are afraid of anything with teeth
  • quiet as a mouse


  • Acute Arthritis

This is a very easy and clean way to cut PVC pipe, however, you must have access to a plastic pipe cutter.  These are very inexpensive tools ($10-12 each), that you can get from your local hardware store.  There are two types:

Rotating Pipe Cutter

Best for smaller diameter PVC pipe, such as 1/2” and 3/4”
The rotating pipe cutter uses a blade that clamps down onto the edge of the pipe and you can rotate it to cut deeper into the pipe.  Place the point you want to cut on the blade in the jaws of the pipe cutter, then squeeze the handles together and rotate the cutter around the pipe.

Ratcheting Pipe Cutter

Best for larger diameter PVC pipe, such as 1” to 1-1/2”
The ratcheting pipe cutter uses a ratchet mechanism that repeatedly applied pressure of the blade against the plastic.  Just place the mark you want to the pipe cut against the blade of the cutter, then squeeze until it comes into contact with the pipe wall.  Release the mechanism, then squeeze again, and repeat until the blade is all the way through the pipe.

The only drawback to cutting with a plastic pipe cutter is the aching hand pain, since you are constantly squeezing the cutter handles together.  Its recommended that you only use plastic pipe cutters for smaller projects with a less than 10 cuts.  Any more than that and a handshake will be difficult to perform.

Hand Saw


  • You probably have one, you frugal rogue!


  • Super messy and leaves little snowflakes everywhere
  • You have to de-burr the pipe, cause its all spiky at the ends.

A hand saw is the most common way to cut PVC pipe, but can be a little messy.  You can use almost any kind of saw, but a hacksaw is best as it gives you much more flexibility.  To use a handsaw to cut the pipe, simply hold or clamp the pipe over the edge of a counter or workbench and use the saw on the mark where you want to cut.  Saw in a back and forth motion, all the way through the pipe.

Since using a hacksaw or other hand saw is essentially ‘hacking’ the pipe, you will often be left with ‘burrs’ on the end of the pipe (and everywhere else).  These are rough bits that need to be knocked off in order to make the end of the pipe clean.  You can use a butter knife to remove these by running it along the end of the pipe to knock them off.

Electric Miter Saw


  • Am I already done?


  • Super scary.
  • Will remove limbs and other parts if you are not careful (no joke)

An electric miter saw is the best solution to cut PVC pipe, if you have a lot to cut.  You have to seriously pay attention and understand how your miter saw works so that you don't hurt yourself.  Once you are past that, you can cut ALOT of PVC pipe really fast, and quite accurately.

To cut PVC with a miter saw, you have to have a method to clamp the pipe to the miter saw base, otherwise it will come loose and cause havoc.  Once clamped, make sure that the blade of the saw is lined up with the mark on your PVC pipe(s) and then activate the saw blade and drop the saw slowly down onto the pipe, until all the way cut.  Once all the way through, release the button and stop the blade before lifting the saw head back up.