Introduction: Cutting PVC in a Tight Spot

Picture of Cutting PVC in a Tight Spot

I used a vise and a couple of 2x4's to simulate a hard to reach pipe. As a plumber I encounter this a lot. They do make a cable saw for this but, they don't last. I'll show you a way you can cut it easier than a cable saw.

Step 1: Get Nylon String

Picture of Get Nylon String

The string on the left is nylon . It's very common string. The string on the right is not nylon it's cotton and will not work.

Step 2: The Process

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Wrap the string around the pipe as shown. I don't cut my string; that way I can position myself to a comfy spot while cutting the pipe.

Step 3: Back View

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After the string is in place pull on the string lightly to keep it in place to where you want to cut it; at the same time saw with both ends of the string back and fourth.

Step 4: It's Working!

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This is sched 40 solid pipe. It works even easier with foam core. With just a few pulls you will get a groove started.

Step 5: The Finale.

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You will quickly get a rhythm going and before you know it you will have cut a straight smooth cut.

Step 6: Done

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It takes about 20 seconds to cut 1-1/2" pipe. Works every time!


Dan-PamB (author)2016-05-09

Wow! I've been dreading this 2nd floor drain leak fix. Hardly room for a short hacksaw stroke. I thought I would try this nylon string "gimmick". Amazing!! Cut the 2" PVC in less than a minute. Smooth cut, too. Thank you, hdmotorc. Great tip.

alienvibes (author)2013-10-22

Nice. I was expecting some over complicated solution and had the rebuke fully loaded. You proved me wrong! :) Now... off you go and find me a solution to cutting cast iron pipe in the same situation. ;)

r_harris2 (author)alienvibes2013-10-23

You just do the same thing, but with DuPont carbon nanotube superstring. It's easy to get if you have a time machine; ordinary hardware-store stuff in 2215. Oh yeah, if you DO try this with nanotube string, you have to wear Wells Lamont Titanium Fiber gloves, get those in the same place. As I said, ordinary hardware store stuff in 2215, but beware, 200 years of inflation will give you sticker shock!

alienvibes (author)r_harris22014-05-06

LOL!Just reinstalled the app on Android and seen all my messages... this is the one that made me chuckle the most! Sorry for the ridiculous delay... proof, if its needed, that I never did find that time machine! :)

r_harris2 (author)alienvibes2014-05-08

Ha ha! It DID work a bit like a time machine, I had totally forgotten this comment :-)

SlavicFMJ (author)2013-10-24

That was crazy! Had no idea it would work.

Bill WW (author)2013-10-23

Wow, I had no idea.
And I have been cutting things for 60 years.
Thanks for the education.

ardnon (author)2013-10-23

awesome tip.

hdmotorc (author)2013-10-22

I do everything with a iPhone or iPad. Haven't had luck posting YouTube videos to instructables with those. However, yes 20 seconds on 1-1/2" pipe. Longer with larger pipe. If the pipe is wet it might take slightly longer (cools the friction). I'll tell you this as a plumber I do this all the time.

marcosmazini (author)2013-10-22

Is it only in 20 seconds?

hdmotorc (author)2013-10-22

I first tried this with neon string used on job sites as pull strings / marking string.
It didn't work with masons cotton string.
Kite string is nylon string which I referred to as waxed. It's nylon :)

hdmotorc (author)2013-10-22

No the package won't say waxed. You are correct. It is nylon string. Cotton string doesn't work because it has too much friction and won't glide. If you force it; it will just break. Nylon string slightly melts and takes on some of the pipe; and so it builds friction and heat and melts the pipe while maintaining its strength.

hdmotorc (author)2013-10-22

It does work with ABS too :)

alienvibes (author)2013-10-22

I'm guessing you would want to use cotton string (waxed) as cotton resists melting etc due to the heat generated.

Alezius (author)2013-10-22

Does it work with ABS too?

allybongo (author)2013-10-22


oldmantime (author)2013-10-22

Great Tip. Thanks for sharing. Question: It looks like the string on the left is nylon and the string on the right is cotton. Is the term waxed string printed on the item packaging?

Lectric Wizard (author)2013-10-17

Another great tip, thanks!

rimar2000 (author)2013-10-16

Genial, thanks for sharing.

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