Cutting PVC Pipe - Lengthwise for guttering

Ok, here's one I thought I'd throw open to the masses....

I'm knocking off the last of a fully automated self-sufficient watering system that runs completely off grey/rainwater. However, the coke can guttering is not working in this position as it has previously :( 

I was thinking of using PVC piping, cut lengthwise for guttering. However, I'm working out the logistics of cutting it. It can't be cut directly in half - this would be too shallow to catch the runoff from the chicken shed. and funnel it down to the tanks, so I'm looking at removing a chunk of the top.  And I also have no table saw. Wheee.

What I do have

Dremel (x2) with associated cutting wheels
Jig saw (With associated plastic cutting blades)
Circular Saw
Mitre saw
Hand saws (tenon, crosscut, hack, pruning, etc)

So, here's one that I'm throwing open. With the tools I have, how would you do it?  I'm leaning towards the dremel, but there would probably be issues with maintaining a straight line (not that I care about some warp, it's a gutter)  


*EDIT*  Ended up using a jig saw with an acrylic cutting blade. Worked a treat.

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I know it is an old topic now but since someone found it I will add my 5 cents to it as well...
When I had to do this I had no table saw, no circular saw either, just a jjigsaw, so I will base it on that as a tablesaw would be far too easy to use for this ;)

Tools required:
Electric jigsaw
An U-channel long enough to hold your pipe - I made it from planks of wood
Permanent marker
Cutout piece of pipe to use as a guide to slide along with the marker

It is best to have the U-channel the same length as your pipe.
Otherwise you need to move and fix the pipe several times and that should avoided if you need a really straigth cut.
The height of the side walls should be flush with the diameter of the pipe - or in lame mans words: put something flat over it with the pipe in it and there should be little to no gap.
If the pipe diameter is more than the width of your jigsaw table need to add something so the saw won't drop onto the pipe.
It is best to include some form of guide rails, let me explain:
The jigsaw should rest right on the center line of the pipe.
If you jigsaw has a support arm that can be adjusted use this.
Otherwise add some wood on the sidewalls of your U-channel so the saw has little play and the blade is dead center on the pipe.
In most cases the blade will be too long and hit the bottom of smaller pipes.
Either buy a short blade or simply put yours into a vice and break the bottom bit of - don't go too short though!
Optional: Use a cutout from the pipe to use as a guide to mark where you are cutting.
This is optional as with a proper channel fit and some non slip mat you should be able to cut without it.

Cutting a single cut:
If you just want to open the pipe lengthwise you can now secure the pipe and slide your jigsaw along.
Try not to stop and better move slow than trying to force your way through.
To stop the bad vibrations simply press on the cut part behind the saw with your had - gloves highly recommended!

Cutting a section out:
Now, this is the real deal and before you try this on a long piece use some waste to train once or twice.
Unlike a single cut you would end up with a lot of wobble and twisting if you just add another full cut.
To avoid this I recommend to leave uncut sections every 30-50cm.
This will keep the pipe round and stable enough to do what you need.
Downside is that you need to drill a few holes along your cut line and use the drill to make at least one slot for every second hole - to fit the blade of the saw back into the pipe.
The standing sections don't need to be long, about 5mm will do it.
Now make your cuts and leave the 5mm sections standing until all cuts are done.
Double check that you did not miss a cut ;)
Put some tape around the pipe in several section to prevent vibration for the last step - make sure not to cover any of the sections you need to cut.
Remove the 5mm bits with a final cut of the saw or on a hot day by using a sharp cutter knife.

As an alternative you can also try a sheetmetal nibbler!
They are available for cheap to be used on your electric drill.
Although they are designed for thinner material they often cope very well with the thicker PVC pipe (only standard, not high pressure pipe!).
Good thing about the nibbler is that you can cut along a line with ease and without the need for complex rails and guides.
All you need is a steady hand because the direction of the cut is only affected when you twist the drill.
It is also really easy to make complex cutouts this way, like for inserting a smaller pipe or making a flap for easy access to remove a blockage.

EL34xyz8 days ago

Tip for ripping pvc pipe on a table saw. Use a 2x4 as your guide. Lay the 2x4 next to the pipe. Make sure the pipe and 2x4 are both resting on a flat surface. Drill a hole at end end of the pipe and then angle a screw through the inside of the pipe into the 2x4 to anchor the pipe to the 2x4. Now you have a flat surface that you can use on the table saw surface.And 2x4's are cheaper than buying another piece of pipe if it's a large diameter pipe.

OLEO2323 years ago
Surprisingly enough there aren't a lot of good answers out there for this, I cant believe I'm the first to come up with this but felt compelled to post what finally worked out for me. Simply buy to lengths of the same size pipe you wish to cut in half. (save one or cut both) Lay the pipes out on a reasonably flat surface the flatter the better. If you are by yourself, try a few bands of masking tap to help hold them tight together for gluing. Stitch the pipes together with hot glue- 4"-6" of glue every two feet. Let the glue cool to set up, flip and repeat stitching on the other side. On a table saw (if you dont have one find a friend that does) for small pipe you should be able to cut through the pipe in one pass, on larger pipe like the 3" I split, set the blade down to clear one wall thickness and cut in two passes. you will likely need a minimum of two people to feed, guide and draw the pipe over the table saw. Do the same for the second pipe or hang onto for future projects. Separate the two halve pipes by scoring or cutting through the bead of glue and then scrap clean from pipe surface. Be careful when drawing a sharp blade at too steep and angle along the pipe as it will dig into the pvc.

Hey OLEO232!!! What an absolutely super tip, I needed to cut 3/4" slots along three 8" pices of 2" PVC, and the hot glue worked absolutely perfectly, then used a table-saw for the six cuts (no fingers lost!). I needed to do 3 passes for each cut as well, as the PVC has some compressed & springy-flex. Another BIG TIP here is denatured or rubbing alcohol will lift the glue right off most anything, just dab or pour it on and the glue blobs will peel right off, not leaving any mark whatsoever. Rock-on!!!

Mmatch3 years ago

Did anyone mention the PVC pipe thickness ... 40 gauge?

In any case, I was hoping this would have lead me to a more low-tech, simpler solution.

Like splitting the lengths of PVC pipe with some sort of "fixed blade" alliterative ...?

No power saws and all the resulting sawdust.

Well, at least on thinner walls, I was able to "slice" mine with a very sharp "knife" (garden pruner, actually)

The problem was that the blade would wander and not follow the guide-line (mfgr printed text). Even thought the pruning shears used had a sharpened edge on BOTH side of the blade. This was an anvil type, versus shears type [with only one side sharpened ... guaranteed to drift to one side].


If you cut one side at a time, be aware, the PVC will tend to pinch the saw blade.
If the blades at a shallow angle it helps...
Clamp the jigsaw upside down in a workbench, tape the trigger on and feed the pipe through like it's a bandsaw, hopefully the blade's long enough to do both sides at once.

if you've got a reciprocating saw (didn't see it in your list but you might not have considered it as an option) you could do the exact same thing as KJ's suggestion. the advantage is that you can get MUCH longer blades for recips than you can for jig saws (depending on how big your pipe actually is)

a circular saw would work as well, i use my table saw for stuff like this and a circular saw has basically the same type of blade (if your really concerned you could just get a finer toothed blade).....which, by the way, you can build a table that can hold a regular skill saw upside down to make it into a table saw (i think i've even seen pre-made versions that you can buy). it's a lot like making your own router table for a hand held router, you just cut a hole in a board that's the right size for the bottom plate of the saw so that it doesn't fall through (might need to make the plate bigger by attaching some wood or plexi or other plastic). if you do this, make a switched outlet so that you can turn the thing off without having to unplug it or reach under the table to get to the trigger.
Kiteman6 years ago
Borrow a router with a wide bit and chew the channel out in one pass?
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