Pipe cutter for copper pipes: which kind is better and why + application example

Copper pipe cutter - mechanical (manual or semi-automatic) device, the use of which provides easy convenient processing of copper pipes. Most often a pipe cutter for copper pipes is used in working with refrigeration equipment, for example, on installations of household air conditioners.

However, in addition to this area, the tool for copper pipes is also used in domestic plumbing.

Features of pipe cutter design

The tool is designed to perform cutting actions in the same way as it has a similar purpose, for example, a hacksaw.

But if the cut performed by the hacksaw is impossible to obtain with an exceptionally smooth, without burrs and metal filings, cutting with a pipe cutter shows a completely different result:

  • neat bleed faces;
  • strict perpendicularity relative to the pipe axis;
  • flat ends of the circle;
  • no metal filings.

The last factor in the list is of particular importance when using a pipe cutter in refrigeration. Small metal filings falling into the refrigeration system, contribute to the rapid wear of technology.

Copper pipe cutter
For all the time the use of copper pipes, for this type of material was invented many designs of pipe cutters. But in reality, no more than five types are used in practice.

If the pipes are mounted in a plumbing system (for example, copper plumbing), the presence of metal filings inside the plumbing is the risk of congestion during operation.

Pipe cutting during installation of air conditioners
Cutters of copper pipes are very actively in demand and are used in working with refrigeration equipment. Particularly popular in this area are small-size pipe cutter designs.

Working with a tool for cutting pipes is characterized by low labor costs. From the locksmith (plumbing, mechanics) requires relatively little physical effort. Products, as a rule, small-sized, having small weight, are located in a working case. In general, devices that are produced in different designs look comfortable and practical.

Overview of pipe cutter designs

It should be noted that the choice of tool for design is relatively small, despite the apparent diversity of proposals in general. This choice covers no more than five engineering solutions, which differ from one another in some nuances. It is for cutting copper pipes that, as a rule, the following structures are used:

  • clamps
  • telescopes
  • scooters.

Consider all kinds.

Option # 1: clamp cutters

Clamps resemble a similar tool, widely used in plumbing and carpentry. The simple design of the clamp consists of a bracket and a screw mechanism.

Copper pipe cutter clamp
An example of the construction of the so-called clamp cutter of copper pipes. The pipe cutter consists of three main parts: 1- bracket, 2 - basic roller, 3- disk blade

Such tool usually fix any details. But with reference to pipe cutters for copper, the configuration of devices has changed somewhat. A thin disk cutter and support rollers were additionally inserted in the working area between the claws of the staples. Thus, it became possible to easily and simply cut pipes, including copper, as a rule, thin-walled and small diameters.

The principle of the clamp-pipe cutter is simple:

  1. The copper pipe is placed in the area between the cutter and the support rollers.
  2. Screw mechanism block with rollers presses the pipe to the cutter blade.
  3. Master hands performs 1-2 turns of the clamp around the axis of the pipe.
  4. The “tightening” of the pipe to the cutter with a screw is again performed and paragraph 3 is repeated.

With the help of a cutter clamp, a full cut of a thin-walled pipe is obtained in two or three technological passes. However, you should not strive to cut the material as quickly as possible, with a minimum number of passes. On the contrary, the smaller the step of “tightening” the support rollers is chosen, the more qualitative the cut becomes.

Option # 2: telescopic cutters

Telescopes are included in the category of the most common designs for cutting copper pipes. The principle of their action resembles the functional clamps. However, in contrast to the first structures, telescopes provide for “tightening” of the cutter blade to the pipe body, while the module with the rollers remains stationary.

Copper Pipe Cutter Telescope
An example of the construction of a telescopic pipe cutter for copper pipes. Characteristics of the model: reinforced bracket and the presence of the mechanism for the automatic return of the telescope

Telescopic cutters are usually used to work with pipes of small diameters (up to 52 mm). Therefore, structurally they are more compact, lightweight, comfortable.

Telescope application example:

There is a copper pipe with a diameter of 34.92 mm with a wall thickness of 1.2 mm. It is required to cut off part of the pipe for fitting installation.

  1. Turn the cutter counterclockwise to move the cutter away from the support rollers by 40 mm.
  2. Put the pipe cutter on the pipe body and pull the cutter close to the pipe surface by turning the screw clockwise.
  3. Moving the tool along the tube, set the cutter blade to the exact cutting line.
  4. Tighten the cutter with the screw until it stops and another 0.1-0.2 mm.
  5. Roll the pipe cutter around the pipe axis 1-2 times.

Next, repeat steps 4-5 until complete cutting.

Copper Pipe Cutter
Many designs of copper pipe cutters are additionally equipped with auxiliary tools. One such tool is an internal reamer, which is often needed for processing pipes.

Both telescopes and cutter clamps - both designs are traditionally equipped with an auxiliary device - an internal reamer. The device is used for additional processing of pipes after cutting or before soldering.As a part of telescopic pipe cutters, a reamer is usually present as a sliding element, and in the construction of clamps the same element has a folding design.

Option # 3: Roller Cutters

A relatively new type of pipe cutters can be described as scooters, which are more practical in comparison with the two previous constructions. Scooters are intended mainly for processing copper pipes of small diameters (not more than 22 mm).

Due to the small size and disc shape of the body, the rollers conveniently fit into the palm of the master. The mechanics of the device are made with the support of an automatically variable pressure force on the cutter at the moment of turning the pipe cutter around the axis of the pipe.

Pipe cutter roller for copper
This is a kind of innovation in the production of copper pipe cutters. New type of pipe cutter called - scooter. Differs in the expressed convenience to the user and allows to work in the constrained conditions due to small dimensions

Reliable capture of the device by the hand of a master is provided by curved body ribs. All pipe cutter mechanics are enclosed in a sturdy metal shell.As the cutting disc is worn, this element is replaced. Sufficiently wide support rollers and a sharp thin cutter guarantee the quality and accuracy of cutting.

An example of practical use:

  1. Put the device on the pipe through the inlet groove.
  2. Adjust the position of the blade at the cutting point.
  3. Grip the case tightly with the palm of your hand.
  4. Perform several rotational movements around the axis of the pipe.

No additional action is necessary until complete cutting off.

Mini pipe cutters for copper pipe

Rollers fall into the category of compact mini pipe cutters, which make it easier and more convenient to perform work in hard-to-reach places. In the same category of tools one can come across several other mini-designs, for example, from the “MiniCut Pro” series of tools from the famous Rothenberger company.

Mini pipe cutter for copper
The same small tool as a scooter - a mini pipe cutter for copper pipes. Enjoys high popularity in the field of installation of refrigeration systems, in particular, household air conditioners

Pipe cutters “MiniCut Pro” are available for processing copper pipes with a diameter of 3 to 22 mm. The working radius of the cutter 38 - 45 mm allows you to work with pipes located in close proximity to the walls of buildings or in the presence of other obstacles.

With this type of pipe cutter, equipped with two guide rollers with a cutting groove, the cutting is easily performed close to the flanging. The tool is completed with spare cutting blades in an amount of at least 5 pieces.

Criteria for selecting a mechanism

Trying to determine which type of pipe cutters for copper pipes is better, one should pay attention not only to the form of execution and the material of the cutting blade. Here it is clear that it is always preferable to choose:

  • alloy steel;
  • constant small working radius;
  • sharp thin blade;
  • possibility of replacing the cutting element.

In many respects, the support-roller mechanism and the telescopic guide also influence the cut quality of the copper pipe. The more support rollers in the pipe cutter design, the more qualitative and reliable the device operates.

Basic and roller pipe cutter mechanism
One of the main components of pipe cutters for copper is the module of support rollers. Provides a stable position of the pipe during its cutting. The number of support rollers of the pipe cutter determines its available range for the diameter of copper pipes.

Also for the construction of a pipe cutter for copper, the size of the width of the rollers and the presence of a cutting groove between them is important.With a larger width of the rollers, the best stability of the copper pipe position during the cutting process is guaranteed, and the presence of the cutting groove enhances the trimming function.

A telescopic guide, traditionally part of telescope cutter designs, should provide accurate travel without the slightest transverse shifts. More convenient and practical is the design of the telescopic guide with automatic rollback. However, again, the reliability of such a system depends on the quality of execution of the automatic rollback mechanism.

Telescopic pipe cutter guide
Telescopic guide is also one of the main parts of the cutter copper pipes. The quality of the telescope design allows you to talk about the quality of the cut tube and is an important criterion for the choice of tool

Addition of accessories - this moment is adopted by many manufacturers of pipe cutters for copper pipes. The technical characteristics of the design of such an addition, of course, does not change. However, the availability of spare parts at hand is also an important argument for the user in the event of determining the best designs. Accessories (usually a spare cutter) are usually placed in the inner area of ​​the screw handle.

Pros and cons of electric models

Many professional craftsmen prefer manual pipe cutters if it becomes necessary to work with copper pipes. Meanwhile, in addition to manual models, there are more technically advanced devices with electric drive. At the same time the electric drive receives energy from the built-in battery. That is, the tool does not lose the properties of mobility, which is already an attractive moment.

Battery Cutter for Copper
Another new product for the copper cutter group is the electric pipe cutter. The design is quite convenient, significantly reduces the cost of the user's physical energy. For quality results requires experience

The cordless tool is equipped with an automatic material locking mechanism. The range of pipe diameters available to the accumulator pipe cutter is 12-28 mm. On the case of the device there are elements of the backlight, which ensures the convenience of cutting in poor visibility conditions.

Electric pipe cutter, of course, significantly reduces the user's physical load. All that is required by the owner of such a device is to hold the device with a weight of 1.5 kg in the desired position in the cut mode.For example, the MILWAUKEE C12 model, at a working speed of 500 rpm, cuts off a part of a pipe with a diameter of 12 mm in three seconds.

But the high cutting speed, and even in automatic mode, somewhat limits the quality indicators. Thus, the device is not allowed cuts of copper pipes shorter than 12-15 mm, if you believe the instructions.

Short cuts of copper pipes by pipe cutter
Such short pieces of copper pipes should not be cut with an electric pipe cutter. Failure to comply may result in damage to the instrument, and the user risks injury.

In the absence of experience with an electric pipe cutter, it is rarely possible to get the perfect cut due to the presence of vibrations from the engine. Finally, the working mechanism of an electric pipe cutter creates noise at the level of 70 dB (the norm of permissible noise according to SNiP is 55 dB).

Therefore, for the masters (especially in the field of refrigeration) manual pipe cutters look the best tool with all the advantages of electric models. A manual cutter allows the master to “feel” the blade stroke, to set the optimal speed and depth of penetration into the pipe body. As a result, the cut is smooth and of high quality, ideally suitable for creating rolling or soldering.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

In a short video clearly shows the process of cutting a copper pipe, and also gives advice on the correct implementation of actions.

Selecting the right tool from the existing range of copper pipe cutters is easy. The market offers a lot of models of different designs, among which the best option will always be found. The main thing is to have an idea about the criteria for selecting a device and for working with which pipes a pipe cutter is needed.

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