How to Cut Copper Pipe for Compression Fitting

Cutting copper pipe for a compression fitting is a fundamental skill that every plumber or DIY enthusiast should possess. Whether you're replacing a section of damaged pipe or installing a new plumbing fixture, knowing how to cut copper pipe accurately is essential for achieving a leak-free and functional connection. While the process may seem intimidating at first, with the right tools and techniques, anyone can master this task. By selecting the appropriate cutting tool, measuring and marking the pipe correctly, and employing a steady hand, you can confidently accomplish this task and ensure a secure and reliable compression fitting connection.

What Is the Cleanest Way to Cut Copper Pipe?

To achieve the cleanest cut possible, it’s crucial to use the right tool when cutting copper pipe. The most effective tool for this task is a hacksaw with a small gap between it’s teeth. This small gap allows the blade to smoothly and cleanly slice through the copper pipe without causing any damage or rough edges.

When selecting a hacksaw blade, it’s advisable to look for one with a high tooth per inch (TPI) count. A 32-TPI blade is an excellent choice since it’s the shortest distance between the teeth. This means that each tooth will cut through the pipe more precisely, resulting in a cleaner and smoother cut.

It’s important to note that using a hacksaw with larger gaps between it’s teeth can lead to complications. A hacksaw blade with a large gap may snag on the copper pipe, causing scratches, dents, or even deformities in the pipe.

Clean the pipe thoroughly to remove any dirt, debris, or oils that may interfere with the cutting process. This will help maintain the sharpness of the hacksaw blade and ensure a smoother cut.

To achieve the cleanest cut, it’s also advisable to position the pipe securely in a pipe cutting guide or vise. This will prevent any unnecessary movement or vibration, allowing for a more accurate and controlled cut.

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When it comes to cutting copper pipes, there are various techniques and tools available. Copper tubing, commonly used in heating systems and HVAC systems, can be cut using techniques such as pipe cutters, hacksaws, oscillating multi-tools, pipe slices, and snap cutters. However, the most efficient tool for cutting copper pipes is the scissor-like pipe cutter.

What Can You Cut Copper With?

When it comes to cutting copper, there are several techniques and tools at your disposal. Copper pipes and tubing are commonly used in various applications, such as heating systems and HVAC refrigerant lines. However, they’re gradually being replaced by PEX tubing in hot and cold water applications.

There are two main types of copper tubing available: soft copper and rigid copper. Soft copper tubing is more flexible and easy to work with, while rigid copper tubing is sturdier and more suitable for permanent installations.

One of the most commonly used tools is a pipe cutter.

Hacksaws are another option, especially if you don’t have access to a pipe cutter. These hand-held saws have a fine-toothed blade that can cut through copper with relative ease. However, using a hacksaw requires some manual effort and precision to ensure a clean and straight cut.

Another tool that can be used for cutting copper is an oscillating multi-tool. This versatile tool can be equipped with a metal-cutting blade, allowing you to make accurate cuts on copper pipes. With their quick and precise cutting capabilities, oscillating multi-tools are a popular choice among professionals.

They work by rotating around the pipe to create a precise cut.

These specialized tools have a chain that wraps around the pipe, and by applying pressure, they snap the pipe cleanly. Snap cutters are particularly effective for cutting rigid copper tubes.

With their ability to offer precise cuts and maneuverability, oscillating multi-tools have become a popular choice for cutting copper pipes. Equipped with finer-toothed metal blades, these versatile tools allow users to achieve close and flush cuts, making them ideal for working in tight spaces.

Can I Cut Copper Pipe With Multi Tool?

Additionally, using an oscillating multi-tool for cutting copper pipe allows for precise and controlled cuts. The tools compact size and maneuverability make it easier to access tight spaces and awkward angles. This is especially helpful when working in confined areas like crawl spaces or behind walls.

Attach the blade securely to the tool and ensure that it’s firmly in place. It’s important to take proper safety precautions, such as wearing protective gloves and eyewear, before beginning the cutting process.

Next, carefully position the multi-tool on the copper pipe, ensuring that the blade is aligned with the desired cutting line. Slowly and steadily guide the tool along the marked line, allowing the oscillating motion of the blade to smoothly cut through the pipe. Take caution not to apply too much pressure, as this may cause the blade to bind or overheat.

Additionally, the high-powered and aggressive nature of reciprocating saws can cause the copper pipe to vibrate and potentially lead to damage or leaks. It’s best to avoid using a reciprocating saw for cutting copper pipes and instead opt for more precise and reliable tools specifically designed for this purpose.

Will a Reciprocating Saw Cut Copper?

Additionally, the back-and-forth motion of a reciprocating saw can cause vibrations that may damage the copper pipe or cause it to bend or warp. This can lead to leaks or other plumbing issues down the line.

Another tool we don’t recommend for cutting copper pipes is a circular saw. While a circular saw can make clean, straight cuts on many materials, it isn’t the best choice for copper. The high speed and power of a circular saw can cause the copper tube to heat up and potentially melt or deform, leading to an uneven cut and potential damage to the pipe.

While angle grinders are powerful and versatile, they aren’t designed for cutting pipes or tubing. The grinding action of an angle grinder can be too aggressive for copper, resulting in uneven cuts, jagged edges, and potentially damaging the pipe.

While hacksaws can be effective for cutting through copper pipes, they require a considerable amount of time and effort. The fine teeth of a hacksaw can make clean, accurate cuts, but the process can be slow and tedious.

When it comes to cutting copper pipe, using a grinder may be a viable option. However, the same can’t be said for cutting copper sheets. For thinner sheets, metal shears will suffice, but if you’re dealing with thicker sheets, an angle grinder might be necessary.

Is It OK to Cut Copper Pipe With Grinder?

When it comes to cutting copper pipes, using a grinder can be an effective method. The main advantage of using a grinder is it’s ability to quickly and efficiently cut through the pipe. However, it’s important to note that safety precautions should be taken when using this tool. It’s crucial to wear proper protective gear, such as safety glasses and gloves, to prevent any potential injuries.

Once the cut has been made, it’s essential to examine the resulting edge for any jagged or uneven areas. These can be smoothed out using a deburring tool or a file, ensuring that the edge is clean and even. It’s also important to take extra caution when handling the freshly cut pipe edges as they can be sharp and potentially cause injury. Properly cleaning and smoothing the edges will help prevent any potential accidents while working with the copper pipe.

In the case of cutting copper sheets, a grinder may also be needed if the sheet is thicker. Metal shears can generally handle thinner copper sheets, but for thicker ones, an angle grinder with a suitable cutting disc can provide a more efficient way to cut along the marked line. Similarly, it’s important to wear proper protective gear and secure the sheet in place before using the grinder. Accuracy and control are key when cutting copper sheets with a grinder, as it’s crucial to achieve a clean and precise cut.

However, safety precautions should always be taken, including wearing protective gear and securely fastening the workpiece.

Source: How do you cut copper pipes against a wall?..


Remember to prioritize safety by wearing protective gear and applying caution when handling sharp tools. By mastering this skill, you can confidently tackle copper pipe projects and achieve professional-looking results.

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