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How To Use & Choose Tube Cutters

The following tips will help you to choose and use a tube cutter. Tube cutters come in several different sizes and are commonly used for plumbing, HVAC, welding and other types of installation and repair including Automotive. The most common application for tube cutters is copper, stainless steel and PVC tubing, pipe and thin wall steel tubing.

using a tube cutter

Figure 1 - Using a tube cutter

Selection of tube cutters.

Choosing a Tube Cutter:

When tradesman are purchasing a tube cutter, there are several features they are looking for; quality construction, cutting wheel tracking, professional deburring tool, ease of use in tighter areas, cleaner cut and simplicity of replacing cutter wheels.

Tube Cutters designed with four-roller systems provide truer tracking, while keeping larger tubes from slipping out, and allowing for larger capacity than two-roller systems.

Tube cutter sizes range from 1/8" to 5/8", 1/8" to 1", 1/8" to 1-1/8", 1/8" to 1-3/8", 1/8" to 1-3/4" and 1/4" to 2-5/8".

There are cutter wheels available for, brass, stainless steel, and other difficult materials in addition to softer materials such as PVC and plastic, copper and aluminum.

Some cutter wheels can be identified by color and by the item number that is stamped on the face of the wheel. For example, the Lenox wheel for cutting brass, stainless steel and other difficult materials is black. The wheel for PVC and plastic is bright gold, and the one for copper, aluminum and other soft materials is copper in color.

Tube cutters with ball bearing driven tension knobs make for easier spinning in hand to reach the estimated size needed. An extra cutter wheel can be stored in the bottom of the handle of the Lenox brand. It is always a good idea to store extra new blades in their original package to prevent damaging the sharp cutting edge.

How To Cut a Tube Quickly

With the open side of the tube cutter facing you, place it on the tube and turn the tension knob so the cutting wheel is against the outside wall of the tube. To begin cutting, place your hand on the tension knob and push the tube cutter down and around. As you rotate the tube cutter, your hand automatically tensions the knob making for a faster cut without having to remove your hand.

de-buring a tube

Figure 2 - De-buring a tube.

Be careful not to tighten too quickly as that will crimp the tube. Always remember to ream or deburr the tube before assembly.

We wish to thank the LENOX Company for their assistance in writing this article.