Pipe and Tube Cutters Information

Pipe cutterPipe and tube cutters are hand-held tools or machines that use a rotating cutting wheel, blade, or other tool head to separate a long piece of tubular material into two or more parts. Pipe and tube cutters can be manually, electrically, pneumatically, or hydraulically powered. The type of cutter used depends on the material, diameter, and thickness of the pipe or tube.


Pipe and tube cutters are frequently used:

  • to create custom piping systems both for residential and commercial buildings
  • for industrial plumbing or processing lines for fluid transfer systems
  • for waste water treatment
  • for fluid or gas handling
  • for heating and cooling systems


Pipe and tube cutters use a cutting wheel, chain, or other type of tool head to cut through the pipe and tube material. Hand-held, manually operated pipe and tube cutters typically consist of a curved jaw housing, a blade, and a handle that enables an operator to grasp the pipe in the cutter’s jaws and rotate the entire cutter around the pipe.



Hand-held cutters come in a wide range of sizes to accommodate the many different sizes of pipes and tubes on the market. Smaller pipe and tube cutters are commonly used to cut plumbing pipes made of plastic, copper, brass, and aluminum by using a steel or zinc blade. Heavier duty pipe and tube cutters are designed to cut cast or ductile iron, stainless steel, or large-diameter plastic pipes. Some pipe and tube cutters are designed with shortened or hinged handles for use in environments where pipes are run overhead or in hard-to-reach places. In these areas, where cutting the tube by making a complete rotation is impossible, the hinged handle allows the operator to fit the cutting blade around the pipe and turn the blade with very little clearance. 


For plastic or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes, operators often use in-line rotary pipe and tube cutters or internal cutters. In-line rotary cutters consist of a blade mounted on a circular frame with outboard rollers that keep the cutter precisely aligned on the pipe. Rotary pipe and tube cutters can be adjusted to fit a range of pipe diameters, and need only 6-to-8 inches of clearance around the pipe to make the cut. These pipe and tube cutters are useful for cutting large plastic pipe in drainage ditches or trenches. Internal pipe and tube cutters are used to cut pipe from inside the pipe rather than outside. Internal cutters feature a saw-toothed or abrasive blade, and a handle that can be attached to a drill and secured with a lock washer. Internal cutters allow operators to insert the cutter directly into the pipe and very quickly cut the material. 


Bench orbital pipe and tube cutters are larger, bench-mounted tools that are used to cut large, heavy duty pipes and tubes. These tools are often electrically powered with motors that feature cutting speed regulation to precisely control the cutting mechanism. The circular-toothed cutter can cleanly cut the pipe material with a single rotation. Bench pipe and tube cutters can be easily adjusted to accommodate a variety of pipe diameters and materials and can also bevel the cut.


Related Information

CR4 Community—Best Method for Cutting Thinwall SS Tubing

CR4 Community—Cutting Pipe for a Good Fit

CR4 Community—Difference Between Pipes and Tubes?

Engineering360—Tubing Information


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