Copper is the most common material that pipes are generally made of. It is a traditional material and still one of the most popular choices. We frequently get asked this question, can I cut Copper pipe with a Miter Saw? The simple answer is yes, you can.
However, to talk about it more in detail, I would not recommend a miter saw for cutting copper pipes, since there are far more efficient and easier ways to handle a softer material like copper. You also might not get perfect results, because this is not what miter saws are designed for. But in a pinch, you can use miter saws to cut copper just fine. Your miter saws can handle copper, but it will wear out the blade much quicker than using it on wood.
Can a Miter Saw Cut Pipe?
Before moving forward, let me clear up another question I hear all the time, can a miter saw cut pipe? Indeed, it can. Although miter saws are designed for other purposes, they can easily cut through plastic, PVC, or copper pipes. But I must mention one important thing in that case. Such materials like PVC or plastic can build up in bits and pieces between the ridges of the blade, so the saw should be cleaned thoroughly after use on PVC or plastic.
What Is the Best Tool to Cut Copper Pipe?
Since I decided to warn you earlier about using miter saws to cut copper pipes not being the ideal option, you must be wondering, what is the best tool to cut copper pipes? We have done our research and found that a pipe slice, also known as an automatic pipe cutter, is overall the best tool to cut copper pipes. It works mostly like a pipe cutter, except that the clamp is spring-loaded. So, there is no need to tighten or wind the clamp since it keeps in contact with the surface of the pipe automatically.
The main selling point of a pipe slice is how easy it is to use. Just pop it around the pipe and turn. The blade on the inside of the pipe slice digs into the pipe as you turn it and the pressure from the spring helps the blade to push in bit by bit. Gradually within a minute of turning, the operation is complete.
Another feature in favor of the pipe slice is that it is compact and small in size, so it can be used in tight or confined spaces. As long as you can slide it around the pipe, you’re set to go. The resulting cut should be smooth and without any burrs. In our opinion, it is the most efficient way to cut copper in every way.
The only downside that we could find is that since it works on a fixed size, you need different pipe slicers for every different diameter. But the silver lining is that the average DIY enthusiast would mostly ever need a couple of sizes.
How Do You Cut Copper Pipe With a Saw?
Coming back to the topic of saws, we now face the question; how do you cut copper pipe with a saw? Different saws can be used to cut copper pipes, with miter saws being one of them. This article will talk about hacksaws that are most commonly available around the house and the miter saw.
It is a hand-driven saw that has a very thin blade with small sharp teeth. Because of the high TPI (Teeth Per Inch), the saw cuts into a copper surface very easily. But it is also very difficult to maintain the angle of the cut in case you want to reuse or refit the pipe. A straight cut is only possible after a lot of experience and practice. Moreover, the cut is bound to leave an uneven surface and a lot of burrs that need to be filed.
First, you must measure and mark around your pipe at the cutting point. The mark should be straight along the line you want to cut. Then you need to secure the pipe with your hand. The more secure it is, the more even the cut will be. If that is too difficult to maintain, find a way to clamp the pipe to your workbench or the surface you are working on. Remember to not clamp too hard as it may distort the pipe’s surface.
Next, place the hacksaw blade on the cutting line. You can decide whether you want to cut in a backward stroke or forward stroke. Push the saw down a little bit and make a groove along the marked line. This will help you keep the saw blade in place.
Now start cutting through the pipe while making sure that you are right along the marked line. Once you are done cutting, you need to take sandpaper or a file and smooth out the burrs left behind.
Since copper is a softer material than wood, you should proceed with caution while using a miter saw on a copper pipe. My recommendation for a saw with an open motor is to cover it with a cloth because otherwise, a stray copper chip may fly in and cause damage.
First, set your miter saw at a 90° angle. Unlike wood, chances are that you want to cut the pipe in a straight line. Therefore, the blade needs to be at a right angle over the pipe. My recommendation at this point will be to make sure the scale of the saw is correct, and fix it if it isn’t.
Then you need to secure the pipe with a clamp. You can put the pipe on the jaws of the saw and tighten the jaw so that the pipe doesn’t move. If the pipe is longer, consider using a miter saw stand.
Now after getting everything ready and taking all the safety measures, start the saw and pull it down on the pipe slowly and gently. With the jaws clamping the pipe down, the blade should sink into the pipe easily. This is to ensure that the cut is smooth and straight. And you’re done!
When you want to start working on something that requires you to use saws, you must consider the safety guidelines properly for your safety and the successful completion of your project. I will note down some safety tips here for you to follow.
- Have a clean workspace to not cause any accidents
- The workspace should be well-lit and dry
- Wear safety goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from debris or spark
- Wear hearing protection against the noise
- Make sure to wear a dust mask the whole time
- Wear work clothes that are not too loose when working with power tools
- Mark your cuts as necessary to properly align your cuts
- Hold the pipe firmly or use a clamp to avoid the pipe from slipping away when cutting
- Keep your blade clean and sharp so the cut is easy and smooth
- Only make adjustments when the power to the machine is turned off
- Keep hands out of the path of the blade
- Make sure the saw is turned off before plugging it in
- Unplug tools when not in service
- Let the motor reach full speed before starting the cut
- Do not operate the saw placed on the ground
- Do not try to reach around or over the blade
- Do not try to force the saw as it is designed to cut smoothly at a specific rate
- Be aware of possible kickback of the saw
- Always check for damage, and repair or replace the damaged part
What Tools Can Be Used to Cut Copper?
There are many different means of cutting through copper. So let us raise our final question; what tools can be used to cut copper? We already know about two types of saws and two types of pipe cutters including Pipe slices, some other options are mentioned below.
The ones that have an abrasive wheel deliver an excellent result.
Auto Cut Device
It works like a pipe slice, and is also spring-loaded so it adjusts to the pipe size. The device is turned to cut into the pipe and it gives a smooth, straight cut as a result.
It needs to clamp on the pipe by tightening the jaws around the pipe. After it is secure, the handle needs to be turned a few times to apply pressure on the blade and cut into the pipe. The pipe is rested against the two small rollers on one side of the cutter’s jaws.
A small circular blade on the other side of the cutter’s jaws tightens to the pipe’s other side. After one 360-degree rotation around the pipe, the cutter’s blade is retightened before another full rotation occurs. When used properly, the tubing cutter ensures a clean, straight cut through the copper pipe.
It is the recent go-to tool for your pipe cutting needs. It works the best with a blade that has fine teeth. Some oscillating multi-tools have a vibration control feature that gives you a lot of control.
Battery-powered Copper Tubing Cutter
It is the cordless option that delivers on its price. It can effortlessly give a smooth, straight cut. The thing to look out for is that you have enough clearance for its use.
Why Cut Copper with a Miter Saw?
Since copper is a ductile matter, it is commonly used in households. But many houses are not stocked with a variety of tools and need to make do with what they have. If a miter saw is present, chances are that you want to utilize it to cut copper pipes.
What Kind of Saw Do You Recommend to Use for Cutting Copper?
I recommend using a chop saw with an abrasive wheel.
Can I Use a Hacksaw to Cut Copper Pipes?
Yes, but you will need to file the burrs afterward if you want to fit it with another pipe. The cut will not be smooth.
Overall, copper pipes are commonly found in residences and thus, there are multiple different ways to handle them. Which one you need, depends on the placing and positioning of the pipe. There’s no lack of options, you can even use a miter saw to finish the task. Hope this article will help you when you need to make a decision.
About This Writer
Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.