How to Cut Piping for Bathroom Drains

What You'll Need
Course-toothed hack saw
Fine-toothed carpenter's saw
Teflon tape
Handle puller
Soldering flux or paste
Packing string
Heat resistant grease
Basin wrench
Tubing cutter
Propane torch
Pipe wrench
Slip-jaw pliers
Plumber's putty

Cutting piping for your bathroom drains is a must-know if you want to take care of your own bathroom plumbing repairs. The most common pipe materials you will encounter are copper, PVC, and steel or iron. Each of these pipe systems are put together in similar ways, and cutting each type for the correct fit requires a set of basic plumbing tools.

Many local plumbing codes require the use of soldered copper pipe for carrying water to and from fixtures, and rigid PVC pipe is most often used for bathroom drains, largely because it is lighter, easier to install, and less expensive. Iron or threaded steel pipe is usually used for carrying natural gas rather than waste water, but some familiarity with how it is cut and installed does not hurt.

Step 1: Tubing Cutter on Copper

Get a few pieces of scrap pipe, depending on the type you are using for your bathroom drains. For copper pipe, this type of pipe cutter has a cutting wheel that will score the pipe around its perimeter. This creates a much cleaner, more accurate cut than one from using a hacksaw. A hacksaw can yield acceptable cuts, but this can be more difficult and time-consuming due to rough edges needing to be sanded.

Tighten the handle of your tubing cutter around the pipe until you feel resistance. Rotate the cutter all the way around the pipe until there is less resistance, then tighten the handle a bit more. Repeat this process until the wheel of the tubing cutter slices cleanly through the pipe.

Step 2: Cutting PVC and Steel

Use your coarse-toothed hacksaw or fine-toothed carpenter's saw to cut through these pipes. To make sure you get a square and clean cut, attach a piece of wood to your workbench with a few screws and wedge the pipe firmly against this. If you are cutting bathroom drain pipe that is already installed, brace this by taping it to a nearby joist, pipe, or stud. Remember to clean and smooth any cut edges before installation.

If you have smaller steel or iron pipe, roughly 2 inches or less, a wheel cutter works best. For larger steel pipe, it s recommended to use a chain cutting tool that can be rented at your local hardware store. As an alternative, try scoring a cut in the steel pipe with a cold chisel and hammer if this method proves easier.

Step 3: Finish Pipe Edges

You should always include a round file and a few different grits of sandpaper in your plumbing tool kit. Burrs and sharp edges can easily be smoothed from copper pipe with the round file, saving the expense of a pipe reamer. Use medium grit sandpaper to clean the exterior surface of copper pipe, which is important when soldering them together. The same need for a smooth edge applies to PVC and steel before fitting and fastening them together accordingly.