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  • Writer's pictureTeena

The DIY Guide to Measure, Cut, & Glue PVC Pipe Like a Pro!


cutting pvc pipe
There Are Many Ways To Cut PVC Pipe

Ready to talk about pipes? More specifically, PVC pipes? I know, pipes for singing would be more exciting but they wouldn't fix contaminated water. 😁


Who would've thought your independent butt would end up in a chair, looking at a screen, and figuring out how to become a DIY plumber!


Well, here we are! I've already started my DIY plumbing journey and I want to help you with yours.


There is an abundance of types of pipes, and choosing the right type of pipes to fit your needs doesn't need to be difficult.


First, since the info in this article is about PVC, make sure that PVC pipes or CPVC pipes are exactly what you need.


Now, if these are the right pipes for your project it's time to figure out the specifics. Make sure to measure how many feet of PVC pipe you will need and what DIAMETER you need. It's not just about length! Unless you're perfect, I suggest you buy some extra PVC pipe in of an oooops.


The PVC pipes can be thin and pliable or "thiccc" with three c's...ask your kids. 👀 They'll understand. PVC pipes typically go from 1/2 an inch in diameter to 24 inches. Make sure you know what type you need for your project.


When you're measuring PVC pipe diameter, it's important to note that it's measured from something called ID, which is the inside diameter. So you're measuring the size of the hole and not the outside of the plastic.


So, you've got your PVC pipe, it's the right pipe for your project, it's the correct length, and inside diameter, now it's time to grab your PVC pipe cutters, hacksaw, or miter saw to create the perfect pieces for your project!




cutting pvc pipe
I Love That Hacksaws are Not The Only Way To Cut PVC Pipe!


Here we are at the crossroads. Do you have tools just lying around or are you heading to the hardware store to buy the perfect tool for cutting through your PVC pipe?


Typically, whether you're cutting through ABS, CPVC or PVC pipes, which are all plastic and commonly used in residential systems, they all cut very similarly. However, the glues that you use for cementing the pipes together can vary.


It's important to note that you must check with plumbing codes in your area to determine the type of pipe you need.


Hacksaws, ratchet-style cutters, scissor-type cutters and power miter saws are all tools that are perfect for cutting through these different types of plastic pipes.


Hacksaws are great if you're cutting through small pipes that are only about 1 inch in diameter. Since these types of saws require physical labor they're best when you only need to make a few cuts.


Scissor-type cutters are best for small PVC pipes that are about 1 inch or less in diameter. Just like hacksaws they require a little manual labor but not as much as a saw.


Ratchet-style cutters are better for making more accurate cuts than scissor-type cutters. They're also better for working through pipes with larger diameters up to 5 or more inches. Plus, they're a little more simple to use and require a little less sweat!


If you're looking to not sweat at all, stand in the shade or garage and grab yourself a power miter saw. This power tool works on all pipes of all sizes, especially pipes with larger diameters.


However, since it is a power tool it is automatically more expensive. I recommend this one if you're going to use it for other things! You could also just rent one...if it's a one time job it may be worth looking into!


Last, but not least, make sure you're using a blade that's made for plastic! Using blades made for wood could damage the pipe.




measuring pvc pipe
Measuring PVC Pipe


Since we talked so much about how measurements matter (remember, plumbing is like baking, not cooking) let's talk about how one might measures pipes.


As I mentioned before, the diameter of PVC pipes are measured from the ID (inside diameter) and not from the outside of the plastic. Although, usually when you go to a store and ask for a certain size it'll be labeled what diameter it is.


Now, you want to make sure the cuts are as straight as possible. If they're janky or crooked they might not fit together correctly and could cause future leaks and who wants those?!


Use a tape measure and a pencil (or marker, or whatever) to mark where you want to cut the pipe. It's recommended to hold the pipe by a vice, clamp or miter box, or even you're own MacGyver-ed duct tape situation to hold it in place. If you hold it by hand it's likely to be less accurate.





cutting pvc pipe
My Favorite PVC Cutter - Ratchet!

We've finally reached what you've been waiting for! Enough about the dimensions, tools and the preparations necessary for cutting PVC pipes... let's get to the actual slicing and dicing! Okay, you won't be dicing them...that's just...pointless.


If you've decided on using a hacksaw to cut through your PVC pipes then your job is quite simple. Secure the pipe, and slowly draw the hacksaw blade back and forth across the line you have made. Make sure the line remains straight! This can be tricky with a hacksaw but it can be done. Slow down your speed as you complete the cut. Doing so will provide you with a clean cut!


Scissor-type cutters are easy to use. Place the pipe inside the jaws of the cutter, holding the blade on the line you've created steadily. Apply pressure to the handles and slowly rotate the cutter around the pipe. Make sure the pipe stays straight so that your cut is straight! Continue rotating the pipe until you've completed the cut all the way through the pipe.


If ratchet-style cutters are more your style then set the blade over your mark, squeeze and release the handle. Repeat this action until the pipe is completely severed. Yes, it's really that easy!


Lastly, is the almighty miter saw. Secure the pipe under the saw, align the blade with your mark. Turn the saw on and slowly bring it down until it's completely through the pipe. Turn off the saw and wait for the blade to stop spinning for your safety. Then you can remove the pipe.




rasping PVC
Deburring PVC - Manicure For PVC!

Okay, so not the typical kind of buffing and fluffing, but cutting through plastic can leave some rough edges, and like I said before it's important to have clean, straight cuts to help prevent any leaks or problems down the line.


This action of cleaning up the pipe edges is called "deburring". You can buy a deburring tool or use a utility knife to remove shavings or other plastic particles from your cut pipe.


When you're using dry-fit pipes and fittings you have to make sure everything is sized correctly and straight so that they do not bend or twist - again problem solving for potential future problems!


If you're using ABS pipes, be sure to remove any ink, oil, or dirt with a chemical pipe cleaner and allow to fully dry before you start piecing your pipes together.


OH, you don't know what ABS pipe is? It's acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a black plastic pipe that's typically used in DWV applications (drainage, sewage, and vent).




glueing pvc pipe
Glueing PVC Pipe

I mentioned before that there are a few ways to piece your PVC pipes together. Cementing CPVC, or PVC pipes, requires softening the plastic and using the appropriate adhesive to work correctly. So, let's start there!


Using a dauber, apply an even coat of primer on the end of your PVC pipes and inside of the fittings (the little elbow things that connect everything together)! Once that's done, use a brand new dauber. Not the one you just used, a new one, to apply the cement.


Pro tip: if you're cementing a large diameter pipe is much easier and you'll be much more successful if you use the large dauber from a LARGE can of cement. It takes so long to apply the cement with a small dauber that it might be dry before you get all of it on!


Make sure you buy the correct type of cement for your project and your pipes! Remember, work smarter not harder. If you do it right the first time you don't have to fix it later.


Apply the, correct, cement to the end of the pipe and inside of the fitting then quickly push and twist the connectors together to create a good seal. Hold onto the connected pipes for at least 30 seconds to make sure that the seal sticks. Then, wipe away any excess cement with a rag and you're done.


Imagine it, you've successfully, measured, bought, planned, cut, and attached your PVC or CPVC pipes together for your DIY plumbing project!


Now that you've learned the skills to maneuver and work with PVC pipes nothing can stop you! That water filter system you need? You can do it yourself. Want to a fix a leak in some already existing PVC pipes within your home? Guess what! You can do it yourself.


Hopefully this has helped you build more skills and you're now well on your way to becoming a more independent and more knowledgeable DIY homeowner! So get a move on and get that project going so you can move onto the next one - trust me, all homes have a next one.


A great first project would be a DIY Home Water Filter. Hint, hint!


Happy plumbing!




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