During any home improvement task, you could face copper pipes. Adding or removing a water softener means you need to cut into or replace copper tubes. However, for the most part, copper pipes sit very close to the wall, so access is limited for a regular metal cutting blade or ridgid tools that are too large for the working area.
Luckily, cutting copper pipes can be done using various tools, including an oscillating tool. Such tools are ideal for cutting copper pipe flush against wall, however, maybe you don’t have one, or access doesn’t allow you to use such a tool or similar tool.
In our guide, you can learn much more about how to cut copper pipe in tight spot. By the end, you’ll see all the ways you can use various cutters, thus allowing you to add in or remove pipe without needing to bend tube into position. (Learn How To Separate Cast Iron Pipe Joints)
How Do You Cut Copper Pipes Against A Wall?
When a copper pipe fails or reaches a burst point, you need to replace it.
Here are the steps for how to cut copper pipe in tight space.
To cut copper pipe close to a wall, you have a couple of steps up-front.
1. Choose the right tool for the job
Choose a precise tool to cut any copper pipes close to the wall expertly. If you have a copper pipe that is close to the wall, an ordinary hacksaw or tubing cutter won’t work.
You can choose from three alternative tools to do the job.
Pipe cutters are available in various shapes and sizes, although most of these tools work in the same way. Pipe cutters are small hand-held tools comprising a vise-like device and cutting wheel.
Cutting pipes close to the wall is simple with these tools.
First, check whether a pipe cutter is adjustable as these can work on any pipe between 1/2 inches to 4 inches.
An oscillating multi-tool is a versatile tool that can make precise cuts in various materials.
Choose a high-carbon steel circle blade for cutting copper tubes when using an oscillating multi-tool to cut copper pipes.
2. Mark the Pipe
It would help if you first marked the unwanted section of a copper pipe before you cut it. Then, use a marker and tape to make distinct markings on the copper pipe at this point.
Also, before creating the markings, remember to clean the copper pipe.
3. Cut Copper Pipes
The copper pipe auto-cut tool is a small circular tool with cutting discs designed to cut copper pipes. (Learn How To Attach Wood To Metal Pole)
Fit the auto-cut tool on the marking and rotate it 15 to 25 times clockwise until it is cut. You may need to tighten as you move to increase the pressure applied by the discs.
Such devices are suited to open areas and confined spaces where you cannot utilize more leverage.
With any tool, such as using a powered oscillating multi-tool, you need to wear safety gloves and safety goggles to avoid any copper filings causing injury.
4. Cleaning the copper pipe edges
After the copper pipe has been cut, the next and final step is to clean it.
You won’t have to worry about cleaning the copper pipe if you use a pipe-cutting tool. This is because the cutting tool produces cleaner slices than other tools.
You must clean the copper pipe if you use an oscillating multi-tool with a cutting wheel, as the wheel leaves snags or burrs on the ends of the copper pipe.
If you are adding pipe, you need a different approach. First, mark accurately with your tape measure; lastly, hold your pipe in a wood miter box before cutting and cleaning the ends.
Is It OK To Cut Copper Pipe With A Hacksaw?
If you use a hack saw, you’ll probably cut pipe well outside of the installation location. Therefore, before working with a hacksaw, you must clear up the jagged edge.
Hacksaws are commonly used to cut copper pipe since they are readily available. If you have one and don’t need to access the pipe already in place or behind the sink, the tool is ideal. Before soldering, ream the pipe or use a copper pipe cleaner.
Vibration control is included in some of the best oscillating multi-tools, giving them much control.
Because many of them are battery-powered, they’ve become a new go-to power tool for cutting copper pipe.
With fine-toothed metal blades, oscillating multi-tools cut best. The concept is that you can go close to a wall and perhaps cut it flush.
The oscillating multi-tool looks useful when you can’t get a copper tubing cutter or similar tool around a pipe, or you can use a reciprocating saw if you have the space.
It should also go without saying that huge circular saws or miter saws should not be used for this cutting.
How Do You Cut Copper Pipe In a Restricted Space?
The best way to work in close quarters is with a copper tubing cutter, an auto-cut tubing cutter.
It ensures a straight, even cut without deforming the pipe’s curvature.
Copper tubing cutters are available in various sizes to accommodate various types of pipe. However, the key sizes range from 1/2 to 1 inch.
Copper tubing cutters are available that can access both tiny, packed regions and spaces where additional leverage may be possible.
For decades, plumbers have relied on these tools to cut copper pipe. They need to be replaced frequently, but specific versions allow a wheel change.
Internal mechanisms wear down with time, and many professional plumbers regard them as disposable and a requirement of doing business.
Tube cutters range in price from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. However, even the cheapest tube cutters are usually adequate for weekend warrior work.
Here are the steps using a quick alternative if you don’t have a pipe cutter in the house.
- Mark the copper pipe where you want to cut it. Mark the pipe throughout its whole diameter to guarantee a straight cut through the pipe.
- Up against the copper pipe, place a mini-hacksaw. Push and pull the hacksaw along the copper pipe at a slow pace. The blade of the mini-hacksaw should cut cutting through the pipe.
- When the mini-hacksaw is almost all the way through, use one hand to hold the piece of copper pipe steady. This will prevent the copper pipe from binding on the hacksaw and bending before being cut cleanly.
- Once the copper pipe has been cut through, remove the cut section. Remove any burrs from the edges with sandpaper and prepare the end for a new fitting.
- Before cutting through the copper pipe, make sure your mini-hacksaw blade is sharp. If the blade on the saw is dull, it may rip and tear the pipe instead of cutting it cleanly.
How Do You Cut Copper Pipe Without A Pipe Cutter?
Though you’ll need to buy a pipe slice that fits your pipe’s diameter, this is the best tool for working with thinner copper diameters of 14 inches or less.
A pipe slice will get the work done without pinching or problems even more readily than the pipe cutter.
The pipe slice’s blade is spring-loaded; wrap it around your pipe, and it will automatically determine how much to tighten for a smooth cut, leaving you to focus on twisting the pipe inside its hold.
Remove any burrs left behind after cutting the pipe through with a round file.
Using a Hacksaw
Only use this method if you intend to work on a non-plumbing project or are stuck in your house and can’t get to the store.
A hacksaw will cut through copper pipe, but it’s impossible to hold the pipe firmly enough to produce a clean cut with a hacksaw, no matter how strong you are.
Excess movement in plumbing can cause future joint failure if the pipe is fastened to other plumbing while sawing. (Learn How To Fix A Low Spot In Concrete Patio)
A little movement isn’t a problem if you’re not working on plumbing, but it’s grunt work.
Securely brace the pipe and saw it like any other object. Then, use a round file to smooth the inside of a hand-sawn pipe before installing it in a plumbing fitting.
Depending on the project, you may need to do something after cutting.
In plumbing tasks, always remove burrs or raised edges from the pipe. Burrs can force water to make noises in your plumbing. In addition, inner edges can lead to pipe pitting, corrosion, and pinhole leaks.
When you sand the rough edges, your pipes will last for years.