How do I cut this pipe?
January 31, 2010 4:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to install a toilet. My contractor put a PVC pipe in the floor, but the end is too high for my toilet to sit level on the ground. So I need to cut the PVC pipe. There's only about a half inch gap around the pipe, so I started trying to cut it with a Dremel from the inside. But it seems to be too thick and overheats the Dremel. Is there another cheap tool I can use for this?
posted by scottreynen to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
Cheap? Why don't you get a find toothed manually operated saw. There are even some with offset grips, so that your hands wouldn't be too close to the wall/floor.
posted by mmkhd at 4:15 PM on January 31, 2010

Best answer: Belt sander?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:16 PM on January 31, 2010

(Depends of your definition of cheap, of course. Perhaps you could borrow one, buy a (cheap) belt, and be one with it in no time.)
posted by IndigoJones at 4:17 PM on January 31, 2010

(arrrgh) find = fine
posted by mmkhd at 4:20 PM on January 31, 2010

What about a Pipecutter?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 4:23 PM on January 31, 2010

posted by SeanMac at 4:23 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Harbor Freight PVC pipe cutter. $4.99
posted by 543DoublePlay at 4:34 PM on January 31, 2010

Response by poster: I had already used a hacksaw as close to the floor as I could cut, but I need to cut closer. A belt sander sounded like what I needed, though more than I wanted to pay. So I just used the sander bit on my Dremel (which I hadn't considered before) to sand it down from above rather than cutting from the inside. A little slower, but seemed to be a job the Dremel could handle. Looks good now.

Thanks everyone!
posted by scottreynen at 4:35 PM on January 31, 2010

Next time use a hacksaw or Swede saw blade without the saw. Bolt or screw it to a narrow piece of wood fashioned as a handle so that the blade runs level with the floor. A Swede saw blade would be long enough to have two handles, and using two people it would take only a minute to cut.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:42 PM on January 31, 2010

Next time go around the pipe and saw down vertically with the dremel. Then when you go around you'll be popping out little individual teeth. Should have no problem then.
posted by sanka at 4:59 PM on January 31, 2010

Cant you just use a hand saw?
The blade is flexible and you should be able to cut the pipe flush
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 5:31 PM on January 31, 2010

I've never used this myself, but the local Ace hardware has something that looks like a handheld wire saw---just a length of steel cable, sometimes coated with carbide or diamond as an abrasive. The packaging has instructions for cutting pipes in close quarters.
posted by d. z. wang at 5:59 PM on January 31, 2010

Next time, try string.
posted by Floydd at 6:03 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might also have (had) better luck with the Dremel at a lower speed. When cutting plastic, you want the cutting part moving slowly enough that it actually cuts the plastic; if it's moving too fast, the plastic heats up, softens, and turns into sticky goo around the blade (or bit or wheel).
posted by hattifattener at 7:32 PM on January 31, 2010

An undercut saw would have done an awesome job with this.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:39 PM on January 31, 2010

I am concerned because I see no mention of a closet flange. I hope this was simply an oversight. The PVC should connect to a flange which ideally rests directly on the finished floor. A flange could have been installed with some height to it if the toilet was expected to sit on a tile floor; this is the only reason I can think of to lower the pipe. If there is no flange you will have no way to secure the toilet to the floor.

In situations of minimal excess height supporting the bowl with plastic (rust proof) shims is probably a lot easier.
posted by dhartung at 8:51 PM on January 31, 2010

Put the saw blade you were using in a variable speed drill. Use it at a low/slow speed so it won't melt the pipe. Use a good, steady grip. Go slowly and very carefully! You might have to take it out once in a while to clean the teeth.

Also, on some hacksaws, you can convert the blade to a 45 degree angle. That might help.

Last resort, a coping saw.
posted by Taurid at 10:02 PM on January 31, 2010

A Japanese pullsaw is good for cuts like this; you just need to put some scrap wood under the blade so it doesn't mar the floor. It will cut a protrusion flat with the surrounding surface, if you want it to (and you don't have a scrap buffer piece to prevent the aforementioned marring; otherwise it will cut down to whatever spacer you have in there).

However ... given that you already have a Dremel, I think that maybe you were using the wrong blade in it originally. Cutting PVC is well within the range of what a Dremel can do, and if it was overheating I suspect that you were using a blade that was too fine for the gummy PVC. Something more aggressive might have been required. Just as an aside, when I was in Home Depot a few days ago I noticed they had some pretty massive Dremel cutter/blade sets for reasonable prices. If you don't already have a good range of cutters, that might be one way to get some.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:21 PM on January 31, 2010

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