8 Best PVC Pipe Cutters of 2021 – Top Picks & Reviews
Plumbing today is much easier than it once was. There was a time when all the pipes installed in a home were copper pipes that required nearly endless amounts of flux, solder, heat, and hours of labor. Just cutting a copper pipe takes plenty of time, even with power tools. But today, copper pipes are practically a thing of the past. Modern homes use plastic pipes like PVC and Pex that are much easier to work with and can be completed much quicker.
Of course, PVC is a versatile material used for more than just plumbing houses. It’s used in all sorts of crafts and projects today, from building drying racks for t-shirts to building vocal booths and everything in between.
Luckily, PVC is also extremely easy to work with. You don’t even need a saw to cut PVC pipe. Instead, you can use a PVC pipe cutter to make straight cuts with minimal effort in no time at all. To make sure you pick the right PVC pipe cutter, we’ve compared some of the best options in the following reviews.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Zantle Ratchet-type Tube Cutte||
|Best Value||Orbit 26085 PVC Pipe Cutting Tool||
|Premium Choice||RIDGID 23498 Ratcheting PVC Pipe Cutter||
|RIDGID 23488 PVC Pipe Cutter||
|Superior (1h 2″) Pipe Cutters||
The 8 Best PVC Pipe Cutters – Reviews 2021
1. Zantle Ratchet-type Tube Cutter – Best Overall
With a great mix of reasonable pricing and quality craftsmanship, the Zantle Ratchet-type Tube Cutter was our favorite overall. It can cut pipe with an outer diameter up to 1⅝ inches, which is standard for this type of tool. With just a few squeezes of your hand, this cutter will ratchet closed, slicing right through whatever pipe is within its jaws.
The jaws are adequately shaped to hold a pipe steady while the blade cuts through. Luckily, the blade is sharp enough to easily pierce the PVC rather than crush it, though it’s not the most durable blade of the bunch. Luckily, this tool is covered by a one-year warranty that speaks to how well it’s built.
You’ll also find other standard features on this cutter, including a locking buckle so it stays closed when not in use. Because it’s designed so well, you can operate this device single-handedly, leaving your other hand free to hold and guide the pipe.
2. Orbit 26085 PVC Pipe Cutting Tool – Best Value
One of the things we liked most about the Orbit PVC Pipe Cutting Tool is its low price. It’s one of the cheapest PVC cutters we tested, but it still provided us with reliable cutting ability. The only downside with this tool is that it can only cut pipe up to 1 inch in diameter. This means it’s great for PEX, vinyl tubing, and small PVC, but you’ll need a different tool for cutting larger diameter pipes.
Though it’s cheap, this tool is still well constructed. It’s made of heavy-duty aluminum and steel with a blade that’s made from heat-treated steel. The blade is adequately sharp, cutting through the piping we threw at it with ease. It’s even replaceable on the off-chance that something does happen to it. When we consider all of these factors, we believe the Orbit PVC pipe cutting tool is one of the best PVC pipe cutters for the money.
3. RIDGID Ratcheting PVC Pipe Cutter – Premium Choice
The RIDGID 23498 Ratcheting PVC Pipe Cutter is one of the nicest pipe cutters we’ve ever used. It’s also one of the most expensive, but in this case, the price is worth it. This tool is excellent for cutting all types of plastic pipe like PVC, PEX, rubber hose, and even multilayer tubing. It’s spring-loaded to open all the way each time you release the handle, allowing you to readjust to the proper size for your pipe without the need for pumping the handle, which can save you quite a few pumps on a thinner pipe.
With this tool, you can cut pipe with an outer diameter up to 1⅝ inches. The ultra-sharp X-CEL blade makes easy work of any type of plastic pipe or tubing. If it gets dull, you can easily replace it, though the replacement blades are pretty pricey. The whole tool is covered by RIDGID’s lifetime service agreement, so if anything goes wrong through normal use, they’ll fix it. It might be a bit of an investment, but if it’s around for a lifetime, then it’s a worthwhile investment in our book.
4. RIDGID 23488 PVC Pipe Cutter
We liked the idea of the RIDGID 23488 PVC Pipe Cutter. It’s a single-stroke pipe cutter that can supposedly cut through pipe as thick as 1⅝ inches with a single squeeze. That would be awesome, and it’s kind of true. In reality, you have to squeeze so hard that cutting a pipe larger than 1 inch isn’t really feasible.
Since you have to apply so much pressure to get these cutters to slice through the PVC, the jaws often shift, resulting in a crooked cut. But you don’t need as much pressure with a thinner pipe, so if you’re only cutting a pipe that’s ¾-inch or smaller, you should be fine.
What’s great about this tool is that it’s one of the lightest PVC cutters we tested at a mere 4.2 ounces. It features a reversible blade that offers double the life of a regular blade. It’s replaceable when it wears out, but a replacement blade is more expensive than getting a whole new tool! We like this pipe cutter overall, but there are a few flaws that need to be addressed before it climbs into our top three.
5. Superior (1h 2″) Pipe Cutters
Most of the pipe cutters we tested couldn’t work with a pipe that has an outer diameter greater than 1⅝ inches. But the Superior Pipe Cutters can cut PVC with an outer diameter up to 2½ inches, making them usable for a lot more situations. These cutters are 10 inches long, providing extra leverage for cutting with one hand. They’re even backed by a lifetime warranty, but we didn’t like them very much.
To fit such large pipes inside the jaws of these cutters, they had to be massively oversized. They’re too large to comfortably fit in your pocket or on your toolbelt, which many of the other cutters will do just fine. What’s worse is the angled cuts this device produces. It’s not very well constructed, so when you apply enough pressure to cut through the pipe, the blade gets forced to the side, causing it to cut at an angle.
Despite the many flaws, this tool is more expensive than many of the others that we tested, even though they performed much better. Since you can save money and get a better tool at the same time, skipping this one is a no-brainer.
6. Superior 37115 Pipe-Cutter Tool
This PVC Pipe Cutter from Superior Tool Company has wide hooked jaws to hold the pipe securely while cutting. They open large enough to secure pipe with an outer diameter of up to 2½ inches, allowing you to work with a large range of pipes. They’re even warrantied for life, which we think is fair when you consider how expensive this tool is compared to most of the similar tools on the market.
We like that this cutter can work with larger diameter pipe, but that’s our best praise for it. It’s a large and cumbersome tool that weighs in at a hefty 2 pounds, making it one of the most awkward and uncomfortable tools that we tested for this list.
On top of the bulky size and weight, the hinge on this tool is very stiff, making it difficult to open. Don’t expect to get any semblance of one-handed operation with this tool.
7. LENOX Tools 12123R1 PVC Cutter
Of all the tools we tested, the LENOX Tools PVC Cutter is probably the most disappointing. It’s loaded with awesome features that we were excited about, but many of them were a failure. If everything had worked as advertised, this tool would have likely found itself in our top three. But with this many flaws, it’s relegated to the bottom of our list.
To start, this is one of the most expensive PVC cutters we’ve seen. That would be fine though if it offered the best performance as well. It was on track with some of its great features like the blade lock with a separate push-button release that keeps the blade locked into the jaws when you finish your cut. But the button jammed, making it near-impossible to release the blade.
The rubberized grips offer a firm grasp, even when it’s wet or your hands are dirty. There’s a release button on the handle for truly one-handed operation, and that button actually worked. But the blade was another story. It started well, but quickly dulled and started snapping pipes. Later, we noticed that the blade had developed several divots, raising serious questions about the quality of this tool.
8. Armour Line RP77152 PVC Pipe Cutter
Weighing in at 20 ounces, the Armour Line PVC Pipe Cutter feels pretty heavy, though it looks fairly cheap. It might look that way, but this cutter is several times the cost of other cutters that we think performed much better.
In this tool’s defense, it can work with a pipe that has an outer diameter of up to 2 inches. That’s not enough to redeem it, though. Considering the price, we expected some great performance, but what we got was a hard- to-use tool that delivered sub-par cuts.
You have to apply considerably more pressure to cut pipe with this tool than with others we tested. Because of this, the blade ends up out of place, which results in an angled cut. Since this tool can’t even cut straight, we can’t recommend it, especially at this high price.
PVC cutters are pretty simple tools, which is why they’re also rather inexpensive. Just stick your pipe inside the jaws and start to ratchet the handle closed. The blade will slice right through your PVC, creating a clean cut that’s (hopefully) straight and free of burrs.
That said, there are a few things you should be aware of, which we’re going to cover in this short buyer’s guide. Knowing these will help you make a better decision so you’re sure to be satisfied with the tool you pick instead of frustrated.
Make Sure Your Pipe Will Fit
Truthfully, the most important aspect to consider when purchasing a PVC cutter is the size of your pipe. If your pipe doesn’t fit in the jaws of the cutter, you won’t be able to cut it. And what good is a pipe cutter that can’t cut pipe?
That all seems pretty simple. Each PVC cutter has listed its cutting capacity. A cutting capacity of 1⅝ inches is pretty much standard, though there are cutters that can work with larger 2-inch material and even some that will cut 2½-inch pipe.
But if you purchase a standard set of PVC cutters and expect to cut a 1⅝ -inch pipe with them, you’ll be sorely disappointed. This is because these PVC cutters list the outer diameter of the pipe they can work with, but PVC pipes are sized by their inner diameter.
Outer Diameter vs Inner Diameter
This discrepancy between inner and outer diameter has been the cause of much confusion for many consumers. A 1⅝-inch piece of PVC pipe won’t fit in a PVC cutter with a cutting capacity of 1⅝ inches because when discussing PVC, that’s the measurement of the inner diameter, not the outer dimensions.
Inner diameter is the diameter from one inside edge to the opposite inside edge while the outer diameter is the measurement from one outside edge to the opposite outside edge.
A 1 ⅝-inch PVC pipe is actually much larger on the outside. How much larger is determined by what schedule the pipe is.
For most PVC cutters with a cutting capacity of 1⅝ inches, the largest pipe you’ll truly be able to cut is 1¼-inch schedule 40 PVC, since it has an outer diameter of 1⅝ inches.
So, make sure you know exactly what kind of pipe you’ll be cutting and that you are basing your measurements off the outer diameter rather than the inner diameter.
Replace the Blade or Replace the Tool?
You’ll notice that many of these tools advertise replaceable blades that you can easily swap out when they start to dull, chip, and wear out. That’s a great idea, but in reality, these blades are often more expensive than the tool itself!
Often, the only tools that are worth replacing the blades on are the high-end PVC cutters that cost an arm and a leg. You’ll still be paying more for each replacement blade than you would for a whole new tool at a cheaper price though, so factor that into your thinking when trying to pick a PVC cutter. It might just be more worthwhile to get the cheaper cutter and replace the whole tool when necessary.
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You may not have thought it would be a difficult decision to pick between PVC pipe cutters, but in the process of comparing products for these reviews, quite a few of the lower-quality tools fell apart on us. Get the wrong tool, and it could mean frustration. But the right tool can save you loads of time and effort, helping you to complete each project faster and without wasting energy.
For our dime, the number one choice is the Zantle Ratchet-Type Tube and Pipe Cutter. It’s a reasonably priced tool that’s covered by a 1-year warranty with great features like one-handed operation and a locking mechanism to make sure it doesn’t accidentally open.
If you’re looking for the best value deal, we think it’s the Orbit PVC Pipe Cutting Tool. This heavy-duty tool is made from aluminum and steel with a replaceable cutting blade, yet it’s still one of the cheapest PVC cutters we’ve seen.
Finally, the RIDGID 23498 Ratcheting Plastic Pipe and Tubing Cutter is the model we’d recommend for professionals. It’s got a razor-sharp, replaceable X-CEL blade that makes short work of any type of plastic pipe and it’s even covered by RIDGID’s lifetime service agreement.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 8 Best PVC Pipe Cutters – Reviews 2021
- 1. Zantle Ratchet-type Tube Cutter – Best Overall
- 2. Orbit 26085 PVC Pipe Cutting Tool – Best Value
- 3. RIDGID Ratcheting PVC Pipe Cutter – Premium Choice
- 4. RIDGID 23488 PVC Pipe Cutter
- 5. Superior (1h 2″) Pipe Cutters
- 6. Superior 37115 Pipe-Cutter Tool
- 7. LENOX Tools 12123R1 PVC Cutter
- 8. Armour Line RP77152 PVC Pipe Cutter
- Buyer’s Guide