Modify Your Plumbing
Copper is the standard tubing used for water pipes. If you have to replace your shower faucets then knowing how to work with copper is a good skill to have. You can use a standard hand held pipe cutter to modify your plumbing system. An Imp otherwise known as a mini tube cutter is made up of two rollers, a fixed blade and a tightening mechanism. The larger pipe cutters have handles whereas an Imp can easily fit in the palm of your hand for those tight enclosures or if you simply want to save space in your tool box. They are typically adjustable from 3/8 to 3/4 of an inch.
The Important First Revolution
The most important thing when cutting copper pipe is the first rotation. Mark the tubing where you want to cut. Place the tube between the two rollers and the blade and then tighten the mechanism just enough for the blade to score the surface. As you rotate the cutter around the pipe you want to be sure the blade stays in the original groove and has not jumped the incision to create a spiral pattern.
Don’t Tighten Too Quickly
Next slightly tighten the cutter (about a quarter turn) and continue to rotate it around the tubing several more times. Each time tightening about a quarter turn. The trick is to resist tighten the unit too quickly or else the blade may chew into the surface causing the cut to go awry and you may not get a nice clean separation. Repeat the process until the blade severs the piping.
Avoid Compressing The Tube
The importance of over-tightening cannot be understated, not only will this result in a skewed cut but you can also compress the tubing resulting in taking it out of round and the fitting won’t sit properly anymore.
Hack Saw Vs Pipe Cutter
While you can use a hack saw to slice through pipe, even with a steady hand, you may get an angled or uneven cut which you have to de-burr afterwards. A handheld Imp will give you the most accurate result with the least amount of effort and due to its compact size it allows you to get into those tight spaces where a larger pipe cutter could not fit. It doesn’t matter the size of the unit, essentially they all perform the same duty of cutting the tubing to your desired length but to have such a small compact model is an added benefit if space and convenience matters to you.