Introduction: Tips on Cutting PVC Pipe

About: I'm a professional entertainer, mostly educational shows for elementary schools. I have one great wife and one great child, (3 years old). My proudest project is a Model of the Wright Brothers plane with a 2…
I love PVC projects.  Like tinker toys and Legos for adults.  Still learning and wanted to pass on two big lessons I learned in the last few months.

Three methods I've tried for Cutting PVC.
PVC Ratchet Cutter
Hack Saw/Miter Saw.
And Miter saw with a metal cutoff blade.

A cool site where I got the free plans for the end table.
This was a fun project, took a few hours.  But without evenly cut pipes that were exactly the right length it would have been a nightmare.

Step 1: PVC Ratchet Cutter

This is a great tool.  It cuts without any waste.  It's quick easy.  Costs about $10. 
Great for taking a 10' section at the store and cutting it down to fit into your car.  OR fixing pipe on the fly away from the shop.
BUT, they do not cut a straight 90 degree cutoff.
  If you are building a project that is creating rectangles and squares, or if you want it to hold together really well with cement.  You need the squared off cut.

The other problem is having several pieces exactly the same length.  I was using the method below.  But it is still off by about 1/64 to 1/32 of an inch.  A. you have to use the same sample measuring piece each time, or after 8 pieces you could be 1/4 inch off.

Step 2: Miter Saw

The next method I tried is a miter saw with a blade with teeth.  Fast and accurate, and squared off, BUT the teeth take out chunks of the PVC.  and there is a lot of wasted plastic.

I know many suggest a miter box, with and hand held saw.  I just like power tools so much more than sweat.

But you can get the miter box and saw for about $12.

Step 3: Metal Cutoff Blade

The BEST is a metal cutoff blade.  Less waste than a blade with teeth. More than the Ratchet Cutter.
But it is a clean cut.  and you can easily grind uneven ends on the side of the blade. 

WARNING!!! PVC is a dangerous toxin and shouldn't be inhaled.  The Metal cutoff expels a fine powdery PVC substance.  YOU MUST WEAR A MASK AND EYE PROTECTION!!! Vacuum up after your done.

Step 4:

Now to cut several pieces exactly the same length.  I built an extension to my miter saw.  Basically three pieces, one long board for a working area and two blocks that go underneath to raise it even with the miter saw cutting surface. 

Once the extension board is in place, figure out the exact length you want the pipes to be, place a bar clamp across the board, so the bar would stop the pipe exactly as long as it should be.  now you can simply load the pipe in, two maybe three at a time, hold it tight against the bar clamp and cut.  They all will be exactly the same length.

Interesting note, to make the blocks I stacked up three pieces of 5/8" MDFB.  I tried to screw them together for about a half hour, and then thought...Duh, I can just duct tape them together.  Worked perfectly.  Duct tape, is there anything you can't do?