How Cut and
Glue PVC Pipe
by Brooks Owen
How to Cut PVC Pipe
PVC Pipe Cutter, or
1. Always cut the longest
pieces first. That way, you’ll be able to use more of
2. Mark the length to be cut
with a pencil.
3. Cut with a standard
PVC pipe cutter. The easiest to use is a simple
ratchet-style cutter available at most hardware
4. Line up the pencil
mark with the pipe cutter blade, then cut on the inside edge of your mark.
Option: You can also cut the
pipe with a hack saw. To make a straight cut, place the
pipe into a miter box. Then wedge a piece of scrap wood
between the pipe and the side of the miter box to brace
it securely. Cut on the inside edge of your pencil mark.
Note: When cutting plastic
pipe with a power miter saw, wear protective eye-wear
and a proper dust mask or respirator to protect against
Then, remove any burrs with a
medium flat file or 80 to 100-grit sandpaper. Use a
rat-tail file for the inside of the pipe, if needed.
If you’re thinking
about cutting several of the same length of pipe,
consider building my PVC Pipe Cutting Jig. It can be made with scrap wood and will
save you a lot of time. In addition, you’ll be assured
of the exact same cut each time. The jig plan calls
for using a power miter saw. However, it can be
altered to incorporate a miter box so you can use your
How to Cut Large
Diameter PVC Pipe
the length you want to cut, and mark with a
pencil. Wrap masking tape (I used duct tape
for contrast) around the pipe. Draw a line
with a pencil around the pipe at the edge of
cut, hold the pipe steady in a miter box.
You can also use my
exclusive pipe cutting jig.
in a bench vise. Cut with a hacksaw. When top
touches the "top" of the pipe, turn it over to
How to Glue PVC Pipe
PVC Cement, or
First, let me say this about
that. "Gluing" is not the proper term. Properly said,
you use cement to "solvent weld PVC pipe." But most of
us aren't plumbers. We don't care what "proper" is.
Gluing is easier. We know what it means.
When building PVC projects,
sometimes in haste we glue fittings that end up facing
the wrong direction. Of course, this leads to ruined
fittings, delays and, essentially, having to start
over. It happens and it’s frustrating. So here's how I
solved the problem.
1. After cutting the lengths
of pipe, "dry-fit" sections of your project as you
progress. Make sure the lengths are correct and the
fittings are facing the proper way. Use a carpenter’s
square to guide you, if need be.
Tip: If you find an inserted
pipe stubborn to remove, attach a vice-grip on the pipe
with the PVC fitting clamped in a bench vice, then
separate by twisting. Or, use two vice-grips.
Also, I use the jig in the
photo below. Simply slip the pipe and fitting onto a
wooden dowel, grip the pipe and give it a downward whack
or two. The fitting will pop right off.
2. When you’re certain the
section you’re working on is correct then, using a
yellow marking pencil, draw a line an inch, or so, along
the pipe up and over each fitting. This serves as an
easy alignment guide. Now take the section apart and lay
out the pipe and fittings to prepare for gluing. (The
photo shows a regular pencil because the yellow didn't
3. Swab a light
amount of glue to both the fitting and pipe, insert
the pipe into the fitting, twist slightly and line up
the yellow markings. PVC glue, also called cement,
dries fast so you’ll have to be quick. Hold it
together for a few seconds. Then wipe off any excess
glue immediately with an old rag, which will
also remove the yellow line. (See Note below.)
Note: Since these are not plumbing projects, I
personally feel you do not have to use PVC primer. However,
create joints as strong as the can possibly be, and to
help withstand vibrations from heavy use, I recommend
you apply PVC primer before swabbing on the glue. Use
your own judgment.
Tip: The gluing procedure I
just mentioned is the proper way to fasten pipe to
fitting. However, that said, I apply glue to the inside
the fitting only. In 30 years none of my PVC projects
have ever come apart. Applying glue to both parts is, to
me, overkill and wastes glue. Again, use your own
I mentioned that I swab
the inside of the fitting only. Why?
Because when you insert the pipe most of the glue
flows to the inside. If you swab the pipe instead, the
glue would ooze outwards toward your hands. My way is
neater and cleaner.
4. Normally, the pipe slides
into the fittings easily. For those time when you’re not
certain if the pipe has seated against the fitting wall,
quickly and gently tap the opposite end of the pipe with
a dead-blow hammer or wooden mallet.
5. Work in sections. For
example, when building a chair I assemble the left side
first then the right side. Finally, I secure the
connecting lengths of pipe to both sides.
6. If, when making a
PVC chair, you use sling material for the back and
seat, be careful not to glue one side of the project until
after you’ve attached the material to the frame. Then
fasten the unglued side with sheet metal screws.
But what if you don’t want to
use PVC glue? For some projects (example, doll
furniture) applying one tiny spot of super glue to the
inside of the fitting will do just fine. I don’t
recommend it, however, for projects that will get heavy
Also, I’ve had good luck with
polyurethane glues, which can give you plenty of time
(up to 4 hours) to adjust your project before it cures.
So far, the two projects for gardening I’ve tested have
held up well. Again, you don’t want to use it for
heavy-use projects like swing-sets, chairs, and so on.
By following these tips,
you'll be able to cut and glue your PVC projects just
like a pro!
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photos herein are copyright © 2000 - 2012 by Brooks
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