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How To Cut And Solder Copper Pipes Safely

To cut and solder copper pipes, you need the proper tools. If you have the tools, then all you need is to know how to follow simple instructions. Regard safety as the highest priority and you can become a pro. 

What Is Copper PipeView in gallery

Having one on hand is important if you plan on using copper pipes for plumbing or for DIY projects. If you aren’t sure where to start, we’ll teach you how to cut copper pipe and how to solder copper pipe. 

These two things will ensure that you know how to use copper pipes both for plumbing and for unique projects. Copper pipe is a gorgeous resource and it’s not time to give up on it just yet. So let’s go!

Cut And Solder Copper Pipes: What Is Copper Pipe? 

So you may think you know what copper pipe is because, well it’s a pipe made of copper. Self-explanatory. But the reason they are used isn’t just because they have an attractive industrial look to them.

Copper is the most reliable and most common material for plumbing aside from PVC. It is resistant to corrosion, making it perfect for use under the ground and with water. Not to mention, copper is very strong.

So it is easy to see why it is so popular and why it can be difficult to cut. You can’t just use any knife or any cutter to cut copper pipe. Even if you are strong enough, the blade could break or the pipe won’t be cut straight. 

How To Cut And Solder Copper Pipes

How To Cut And Solder Copper PipeView in gallery

Cutting copper pipes can be difficult or it can be easy. When it comes to cutting copper pipe, although you can use a hacksaw, using a pipe cutter is recommended. You can purchase one online, which we will talk about later.

Step 1: Position Copper Pipe

Position Copper PipeView in gallery

After you have your copper pipe marked at the correct spot, it’s time to get to cutting it. You want to line the blade up to the mark you’ve made on the copper pipe after measuring it. Just line it up at this point. 

Step 2: Rotate Pipe To Score

Rotate Pipe To ScoreView in gallery

Most cutters are made the same so all you need to do at this point is score the pipe. Do this by tightening the cutter and rotating the pipe. You don’t want to cut it just yet, just score it to help with accuracy. 

Step 3: Twist

What Is Copper PipeView in gallery

After you have scored the pipe, make sure the score looks straight. Then you can add the pipe back to the cutter and clamp down before twisting it harder this time until it cuts itself in half with the cutter. 

Step 4: Shave Burrs

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Most copper pipe cutters come with shaving tools that are made for this purpose. But if yours doesn’t have one, you can purchase one separate or use a blade of some sort to get rid of the inner burrs. 

Step 5: Sand

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Now it’s time to start sanding. Use around 120-grit sandpaper to sand the inside and outside of the pipe. This is an important step so don’t skip it unless you want to ensure that the soldering doesn’t work well.

Step 6: Brush Pipe

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Before soldering, you should use a metal soldering brush for your pipes to brush the inside of them. This is to clean them and get them ready for soldering. It also needs to be done, so don’t skip it.

Step 7: Apply Flux

What Is Copper PipeView in gallery

Using a small paintbrush, apply water-soluble flux that si lead-free to the pipe. This is used to prime the copper pipe and prevent the oxidation process from taking place. Solder won’t stick to oxidized copper. 

Step 8: Start Applying Solder

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It is very important to stay very safe during this part. Wear gloves to prevent burns as you get the solder to stick to the pipe. Heat the end first to give it a grip to hold onto while you heat the rest of the solder.

Step 9: Heat Solder

Heat SolderView in gallery

Now it’s time to finish up by rotating the copper pipe while you also hold the solder around it and use the blow torch. Yes, it is helpful to get someone to lend a literal hand to help you with this step.

You can do it on your own by rotating the solder while the copper pipe is in the clamp but this won’t be as smooth or as safe as you’ll need to rotate the torch a little as well. So if someone is willing to help, accept it. 

Best Copper Pipe Cutters To Cut And Solder Copper Pipes

While you can use almost any copper pipe cutter for your job, we have handpicked a few options that will do you well. All of them are affordable and effective. What more could you want in a product? 

Ridgid Model 35S Tube Cutter

This option by the reliable Ridgid is a wonderful choice. It is easy to hold and has over 1,000 reviews on Amazon. This tool has six individual bearings for a smoother cut and a contoured frame to make it easy to align the blade.

It can cut pipes that are up to 1-3/8-inch. Any of Ridgid’s models work well, but this one is a good choice though it is the most expensive option. If you can afford it, you can’t go wrong with this high-end choice.

Lenox Tools Cutter

The Lenox tool cutter works well for the price but you will have to get separate tools for each size of pipe. You can get by with getting a larger tool for a smaller pipe but you need to get larger ones for larger pipes.

Most tools are all-in-one but what this one lacks in versatility it makes up for in price. You can afford to create a “set” of pipe cutters with Lenox which can be more fun than having a multi-tool. 

Ridgid Ratchet Cutter

This tool by Ridgid is very popular because it comes with a ratchet handle. Most pipe cutters have an awkward way to hold them in your palm but this ergonomic choice is comfortable and very natural for a tool.

Because of the shape, it works just like a ratchet wrench for pipes that are already installed. It is difficult to cut a pipe with a standard pipe cutter that is installed because there isn’t much momentum. 

Sharkbite Cutter

If you are more comfortable with clippers than with a cutting tool made for pipes then this option by Sharkbite will do the job for you. It is simple, very affordable, and looks like your other tools, going well with any set.

While this tool is made for plastic pipes, it is a great one to add to the collection if you are here looking for standard pipe cutting tools instead of copper pipe cutting tools. Sometimes it’s nice to have both.

Ridgid Classic Tube Cutter

Pricewise and performance-wise, this may be the best option overall. Ridgid is a wonderful brand and any of their products will work well, but none of them are as exalted as the classic Model 103.

This thing is predictable, effective, and strong. It has the fewest bad reviews as well because most people couldn’t find a problem with it if they tried. It works well and is a steal at this point with that price tag. 

Copper Pipe Projects To Inspire You

What Is Copper PipeView in gallery

Copper pipes are far too beautiful to only be used for plumbing. Plumbing pipes are hidden away where no one gets to enjoy them. That’s why we should use them for more of our projects. That’s what these people did.

Copper iPad Stand

Copper iPad StandView in gallery

This copper iPad stand can be for books and other tablets too. It was originally so that you can use recipes on the iPad without getting it messy or having to lay it down where it is difficult to see.

If you learn how to cut copper pipe and how to solder copper pipe then you can make this stand. It is very easy and is the perfect beginner project for people who want to learn how to work with copper pipes. 

Copper Paper Towel Holder

Copper Paper Towel HolderView in gallery

This under-cabinet paper towel holder is just the beginning of what you can make with copper pipe. Because it is in the kitchen, there are so many decor items that will match it that you can buy at the store.

But what is truly amazing about this project is that you can use a shorter pipe and put it on the wall for a toilet paper holder. Or make it longer and put it on the wall for a towel holder in the bathroom! 

Copper Jewelry Tree

Copper Jewelry TreeView in gallery

Here is another project that you can find multiple uses for. This jewelry tree may be a design for jewelry but any creative mind can come up with a dozen uses for it using the tutorial for the stand.

Finding uses for copper pipes is fun and exciting. It is a warm metal similar to bronze or brass that can add warmth to any room while adding a balance of coolness because it’s a metal. This balance is hard to resist. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How Do I Solder Copper Pipes With Water In Them?

It is too difficult to solder copper pipes with water in them. The torch turns the water to steam and the pipe won’t get hot enough. Turn the water supply off and let it drain before soldering copper pipes.

Can You Cut Old Copper Pipes?

Yes. You can cut old copper pipes. Copper does not rust. It can form a film known as patina. It does not flake and does not make the copper more difficult to cut. So go ahead and cut old copper pipes.

How Do You Cut And Solder Leaking Copper Pipes?

Cutting a leaking pipe isn’t difficult. But soldering a leaking pipe is difficult. Turn the water supply off before working on the pipe. If the leak won’t stop, cut it first and let it drain.

How Do You Cut And Solder Copper Pipes You Can't See?

If the copper pipe is somewhere you can’t gain access to, it is still possible to cut and solder it. You can use mirrors, lights, and special tools designed to keep safety in mind when working on pipes that aren’t visible. 

How To Cut And Solder Copper Pipes Professionally 

If you want to turn this hobby into a career, it is possible. There are a few professions that can cut and solder copper pipes. Plumbers learn to cut and solder copper pipes. So do welders.

These are two professions with high salaries. Other than these two professions, the collection is miscellaneous. Artists that build sculptures cut copper pipes too. Find an odd job to start off with and work from there.