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How to Cut Copper Pipe

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by Jeff Patterson in Bathroom Plumbing

Have you ever found a tool you love?

A few years back I was in Home Depot searching for a new pipe cutter.

And Snap!

There it was, the AutoCut tool.

It’s been in my tool box ever since.

Today I’m going to share 5 tools you need to know about when it comes to cutting copper pipe.

Plus there’s a pretty awesome give away that I’m itching to send someone 😀

Why do we love tools so much?

Because they solve problems like…

  • cutting copper pipe in a tight space (under a sink, in a wall, next to a joist, etc.)
  • speeding up the process of cutting pipe
  • giving you a good clean cut so pipes don’t make noise when water rushes through them

Today’s tutorial is very quick.

There’s a video that explains all the ins and outs of these tools 😀

So let’s start off with the AutoCut tool

 

1. AutoCut Copper Pipe Cutting Tool

As I said in the introduction this little tool is AWESOME.

All you do is clamp it onto your copper pipe and turn it.

AutoCut Tool

There’s an arrow on the side, so turn the tool in the direction of the arrow and in about 10 revolutions you’ll cut copper your pipe.

The AutoCut tool costs about $20 and I think you can get it at Home Depot or Amazon.

Two drawbacks:

  1. you have to buy (at least at this time) one AutoCut tool for each size of copper pipe
  2. it doesn’t have a reaming tool (which deburrs the inside of the pipe after it’s cut)

The tool in this picture is for 1/2″ pipe.

If I want an AutoCut tool for 3/4″ pipe I’d have to buy a second one.

Every time you cut copper pipe you should ream the inside.

Cutting the pipe creates a lip or raised edge inside the pipe.

If this isn’t removed your pipe may produce a whistling noise as water rushes through it.

The raised edge can also lead to pitting inside the pipe which will lead to small pinhole leaks.

Pinhole leaks are no fun because they’re small but can create HUGE water damage.

Having an adjustable copper pipe tube cutter is nice, especially one that’s small.

I had to use the AutoCut in this tutorial where I used SharkBite push on fittings.

Which brings me to the next tool.

 

2. Brass Craft Large Diameter Mini Tube Cutter 

I’ve had this Brass Craft Mini Tube Cutter for years.

I actually remember buying it back in 2007 because I had to do some plumbing work under a kitchen sink.

Brass Craft Cutter

It worked really well because the space was very tight.

So again, if you’ve got a super small space this is a great option.

The cool part is this tube cutter can cut pipe from 1/8″ to 1 1/8″ in diameter.

You’re covered for all pipes in that range.

You’ll pay about $7 for this versus the $18 for the AutoCut tool.

If you don’t mind the cutting job taking a bit longer then this is a good option.

There’s still no reamer on this tool, like the AutoCut tool.

Now I do want to bring your attention to the 3rd set of tools because they kind of combine the best qualities of the AutoCut and Brass Craft tools.

 

3. Lennox 3 Piece Tight Space Tube Cutters

Any time you buy something in a set you know it’s good.

Remember how the AutoCut tool simply clamps onto the pipe.

The Lennox tight space tube cutters work the same way.

Lennox Tube Cutters

Slide them onto the pipe and turn them in the direction of the arrow and you’re copper pipe will be cut in seconds.

These tube cutters have self adjusting cutting wheels like the AutoCut tool.

The upside is when you buy this kit you get

  1. 1/2″ Tube Cutter
  2. 3/4″  Tube Cutter
  3. 4/4 ” Tube Cutter

I wanted to see if you caught the 4/4″, lol.

You can buy these at Lowe’s or online.

Prices range from $39 to $49.

Shop around for the best price.

Amazon has them and this tool set has about 50 five star reviews.

Very impressive.

Yet again, they don’t come with a reamer.

Of course you can buy a separate reamer and that solves your problem.

Ridgid sells one or you can try using the edge of a utility knife.

Speaking of Ridgid!!!

I personally have a Man Crush on all their tools.

This leads me to #4.

 

4. Ridgid No. 15 Tube Cutter

Why do I have a Man Crush?

Ridgid makes solid tools and backs them with a Lifetime Warranty.

Yah, that’s pretty awesome.

Ridgid No. 15

Pick up a Ridgid No. 15 and you can feel the craftsmanship.

It’s all metal.

Try finding another tool made like this, you’ll be searching awhile.

It also comes with a reamer!!!!

The only drawback is you can easily crush copper pipe with the No. 15.

Check out my video to see what I’m talking about.

You can buy the No. 15 at Home Depot or your local plumbing supply warehouse.

The cost is about $30.

This is the kind of tool that you pass onto the next generation, without a question (unless that generation is using all PEX pipes, haha).

 

5. Copper Pipe Cleaning Brush

Copper pipe cleaning brushes are so simple yet so necessary.

Copper Pipe Cleaning Brush

Soldering copper pipe requires the pipe to be clean inside and outside.

Cleaning brushes like this one will make your soldering job so much easier.

The wire brush helps etch the copper pipe and prep it for flux.

See how easy it is to use this and all the other tools in my video.

I kinda look badass in the intro with my terminator sunglasses, lol

 

What’s Next

If you want more info on plumbing check out this tutorial we did on PEX, which is an alternative to copper and doesn’t require soldering.

Grab our free guide if you’re doing a DIY bathroom remodel – it shares how to remodel a bathroom in 10 days or less

Send Me The Guide

 

Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

P.S. Our online store has great supplies for homeowners doing a bathroom remodel. You’ll find shower systems, tiling tools, and more.

41 Comments
  1. Ben says:

    I’d like to try the No. 15 because I appreciate a durable, metal tool with some weight that will last. I also just ripped a rotten basement bathroom out of my home in Squirrel Hill and have quite the plumbing project ahead of me as I look to convert it into a home brewery!

    Thanks,
    Ben

    1. Home Brewery!!! Maybe I need to come over and expedite this project.

      I’m assuming you have copper Ben, you could replace it or opt for PEX.

      If you’ve got water lines on outside walls definitely think strongly about using PEX.

  2. Lee says:

    I Would love to have the No. 15, mainly because I have a “:THIS OLD HOUSE” to steal the phrase and have both Copper pipe and Galvanized pipes in my house……and I’m just waiting for the next repair job…..lol

    Thanks again for a great and informative email and site. I look forward to them.
    Thanks

    Lee

    1. point of info, you can’t use the copper tubing cutter to cut galvanized pipe. should use a steel pipe cutter.

    2. Thanks Lee.

      Yah, galvanized pipe is a real pain in the butt because it clogs from the inside out.

      If you can replace all of it do so. Like I told Ben, PEX is awesome and easy to use 😀

  3. Krystina says:

    I’d like to try the No. 15 because I am a new homeowner anxious to get into some home projects–including replacing my old welded faucets with threaded ones. My favorite plumbing tool is the water key! …can’t do much without it.

    1. Congrats Krystina on being a new homeowner.

      Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d e happy to help any time.

      You might want to join our private Facebook group where you can ask any question

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/hrtcommunity/

  4. fred tom says:

    I was using a hacksaw to cut & paste copper tubing to extend water 60 feet down
    the back of the sloped hill to water newly plated fruit trees & ground cover. Didnt know about simple tool like you described. You have a great site for DIY laymen. aloha, Fred

    1. 60 feet of copper, whew!!

      Glad you learned about this cool tool, and if you need any help next time please let me know. I’d be happy to visit Hawaii 😀

  5. NancyP. says:

    With a bathroom and kitchen sink to be replaced, I can’t imagine anything more helpful than the Ridgid No. 15 tool. Thank you for the contest.

    1. You might also want to check out the Ridgid Faucet and Sink Installer Nancy. It’s an awesome tool for removing faucets and installing new ones.

      Here’s a tutorial on that tool

      http://hrtllc.wpengine.com/the-ridgid-faucet-and-sink-installer-tool/

  6. max quang says:

    As an Interior Designer, i always search for new tools to make my job go smoother,and you have helped me greatly with your selection of tools that you ‘ve used on your jobs, I remember the first tool set you used was from Ridgid ,too. it would be nice to get # 15 added to my tool box.If i don’t win ,i still want to go and get it,thanks for trying out and get the best tool, so we fools won’t wasted our hard earned money for tools that we only used once !
    Thank you for all your hard work,bro.

    max

    1. Thanks Max, having the right tools makes any job a whole lot better. Ridgid makes solid tools that pros and DIYers can use. The No. 15 is awesome. Especially since it has a reamer.

  7. Carol Best says:

    Hi…just wondering …if the space where the pipe is located…can you use any of the above tools…or do they have to be used in a circular motion….I had a repair job done last year..the space was so terribly small..I had to ask a small person to help me with the plumbing….also he took sandpaper to ream…the pipe…and used a sharkbite to fix the problem….
    How do you insure that all the water is out of our outside pipes….
    Thank you so much for all your information…you are very thorough…love the tutorials…please keep em coming….

    1. If the space is tight Carol I recommend the AutoCut or Lennox tools. You can also get a small reamer that will fit in the space, e.g. stud bay. Reaming is very important as is cleaning the inside of the fitting and exterior, too.

      If you’re looking to remove the water from the pipes you can turn the water off at the water main. Then turn on the faucets upstairs, on the main level, and in the basement.

      This will help drain the lines.

  8. Jeff, the tubng cleaner wire brush end you used is not for cleaning the inside of tubing. But for cleaning the inside of fittings. (unless you sweged an end of he tubing to make it into a fitting).
    Two sizes 1/2″ and 3/4″ on the implement you are using.

    1. Thanks William, I use it for both the fitting and the copper pipe. The copper pipe because if there’s a bur on the inside I’d like it to not be stuck and possible cause the pipe to be loud. I figure it won’t hurt 😀

  9. Luis says:

    I Would love to have the No. 15, mainly because it will make my life ten times easier next month when I have to remodel my guest and upstairs bathroom. I have a Rigid adjustable cutter that has seen better days, it still works but man oh man, do I need a New one. This No. 15 will be just perfect! I love Rigid products, too!√

    1. Ridgid is my favorite tool company. Super solid tools. You might just need a new cutting wheel.

      Sounds like you have your hands full with the bathrooms. What are you going to update?

  10. Michael Sklar says:

    Hi:
    I’ve used a hacksaw (years ago) and now use a very small (tight space) cutter similar to one you showed. Like a lot of your fans, I’m a tool person, so I’d appreciate having a well-made tool like your number 15.
    Michael

    1. We all need tools, lol.

      This one is a winner for sure Michael 😀

  11. Jim B says:

    One never knows when you’ll need one. I’ve used ridgid tools before and know they are of the highest quality. Would love to add one to my tool box.
    Jim B

    1. I’d make space for the No. 15 in my toolbox 😀

  12. Len says:

    Great reviews of the pipe cutting tools. I have a Ridgid No. 15 and agree it is a high quality tool. But if you need to cut existing pipe in a very cramped space, an oscillating multitool makes short work of it.

    1. The No. 15 is fantastic for open spaces but you’re right Len, for small areas the AutoCut or Lennox tools are better. Still need to get a reamer though if you only have those in your tool box 😀

  13. Ray Williams says:

    I have one already and I like it a lot. Now if I could only find it I would like to use it for a project I have upcoming.

    1. Lol, I have the same problem Ray. Can never find the tool I need when the project is going on 😀

  14. KP says:

    I actually have a copper pipe in my garage that has a leak and would love to use the Rigid 15 to tackle it this summer! I’ve only been a homeowner for 2 years but bought a minor fixer upper and have been cutting my teeth on small projects. Right now I’m tearing up a bathroom floor (which is actually how I found your site – looking for a way to cut a flange hole in HB :)). I’d love to expand my collection of tools as I’m sure I’m going to be doing more projects in the future (definitely at least repairing the copper pipe in the garage if nothing else).

    My favorite tool so far would have to be the channel locks (did I get the name right? They’re the large plierish looking things). I used them to get out some stripped screws in my subfloor that were giving me fits, then also used them to remove a broken flange screw that had rusted and broken (and a few nails stuck in the wall from removinf the baseboard trim!)

    1. Congrats on your fixer upper. They’re a lot of work but worth it. You’ll force appreciation on your home and make out down the road.

      Great job cutting your teeth on small projects. Having the right tools will totally make all the difference in your house 😀

  15. Terri Hughes says:

    I would love to try the No.15. It looks like it would be so easy to use and to get into tight spaces. I have pipes that need replacing. Thanks!

    1. My pleasure to help any time Terri 😀

  16. Margie S. says:

    Oh Jeff, I would love to win that tube cutter …I’m thinking of making a copper pipe trellis and that would really come in handy! I love your tutorials, they are so helpful and give my lack of confidence a much needed ‘kick in the butt’ …(makes me a little less afraid to try to DIY a project)! I hope your family has a very Happy Easter!

    1. Love the idea of a copper pipe trellis Margie. Soldering is in your future 😀

      Having a good cutting tool will make your life so much easier. Super happy that you feel more empowered after watching the tutorials. You can do anything if you put your mind to it

  17. Greg Aguilar says:

    I would love to try No. 15 since I’m a DIY’ER . I recently purchased land and I’m building a small house. I would like to try this out in my project. Thanks for your videos. Been a subscriber for a long time! #KeepItUp

    1. That’s awesome Greg that you purchased land and are starting to build. Please keep me posted on your progress. I’d love to see how you’re making out.

      What’s you favorite part of the build so far?

  18. Debbie Sims says:

    I sure could use one of these. It would help me to redo the plumbing in my bathroom and kitchen. My husband has been noticing my “to do” list because he has a “can’t do” list and from watching your video’s I have stepped up and made some repairs on my own! I’m proud of myself and this would really help.

    1. You should be proud Debbie. Good for you.

      I’m super excited that you’re pushing your comfort zone. That’s when you’ll start to learn and get skills you can use on other projects 😀

  19. David says:

    I had a #15 given to me by my dad and loved and used it for years. It got lost in a move and I haven’t replaced it. I have many fond memories working on plumbing with my dad.

    1. That’s so cool David. It’s neat how a tool can bring back such great memories. There’s nothing like having DIY moments with a parent or loved one 😀

  20. Ze says:

    I’m here because I’ve found your video on Sharkbite fittings installation on youtube. Your video was the best I’ve ever seen and heard as far as clear, logical and short expression of one’s thoughts in the business of DIY. You are at the higher echelon of video presenters in that area and you should be proud of yourself for that.
    I do not need a #15 cutter because I have only a small job to do in my basement. I can cut my 1/2″ pipe with much simpler tool, however, I’ll accept your cutter if you insist. My house is old and there will always be a need for some cutter.
    Keep up a good work! You are helping many people and you deserve a reward from us, not vice versa.

  21. Mark says:

    Hey – quick question

    I have to make hundreds of cuts on 1/2″ and 3/4″ copper pipes.
    No space restrictions.
    Which one of these cutters would be most suitable for speed.
    I would guess the Ridgid No. 15.
    However, all of the examples of it being used show the user needing to tighten each time around the pipe. Which would slow the process down.

    Once the Ridgid No. 15 is tightened to the correct space for a 1/2″ pipe,
    can I cut multiple times without needing to reset it?

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