Professional plumbers deal with repairing and mending copper pipes almost daily, and one of the immediate challenges is cutting through this tough, rugged piping. Leaky or damaged pipe sections create emergencies where there is no time to waste when resolving a situation.

Now, however, cutting copper pipes has become much easier thanks to specifically designed copper pipe cutters that cut quickly, and cleanly making them both efficient and convenient. They also are much more reliable when dealing with tubes and pipes in tight or hard-to-reach spaces.

Whether renovating or repairing, it’s time to have the perfect tool on hand to get the job done. Here’s my take on the best copper pipe cutters the market has to offer.

Top Picks for the 5 Best Copper Pipe Cutters 

Best Overall Copper Pipe Cutter: Rigid Quick-Acting #31632 Tube Cutter 151

Our top pick
Rigid Quick-Acting #31632 Tube Cutter 151
  • X-CEL knob for cutting tubing more quickly and easily with a larger, more ergonomic design
  • Quick-acting design, I-beam construction and hardened wear surfaces for reliable durability. Thrust-bearing slide assemblies for smooth operation
  • Features a convenient fold-away reamer to clean and insure a better connection

An ergonomic design with angled cutting capabilities for tight spaces offers superb precision cuts.

Best Power Tool Copper Pipe Cutter: Milwaukee Cordless 2471-20 M12 Lithium-Ion Copper Pipe Cutter

Milwaukee offers a high-caliber, proficient power tool copper pipe cutter that is cordless facilitating if you need to move around when cutting together with an extensive range of cutting.  

Best Single-Handed Use Copper Pipe Cutter: Rigid Close Quarter #86127 118 Tube Cutter

Precision even with single-handed use distinguishes this well-constructed, versatile copper pipe cutter.

Best Hard-to-Reach Spaces Copper Pipe Cutter: Rigid Heavy-Duty #32820 Pipe Cutter

Seamless, quick-cutting copper pipe cutter in a unique design to reach awkward spaces.

Best Budget Copper Pipe Cutter: General Pipe Cleaners  AutoCut  ATC12 Copper Pipe Cutter

Great grip with extra turning leverage and automatic adjustments make this well-balanced copper pipe cutter an ideal option for those on a budget.

As a DIYer when it comes to my home plumbing projects, I discovered early on that reaching the copper tubes in my home wasn’t quite as easy as I had hoped. Not only that, but I also needed a way to cut out damaged sections for replacement. So, I went to work to find out how I could manage small copper pipe repairs. I was delighted to discover copper pipe cutters and how these tools function.

What Is a Copper Pipe Cutter?

Most homes will have some copper pipes. These are robust tubes that resist corrosion and UV rays making them a popular dependable choice. They also feature a biostatic condition that prevents bacteria from growing inside. As copper is an expensive metal, a precision cut is needed for both installation and removing and repairing sections of piping.

Pipe cutters are tools specifically designed to cut or slice through piping. They are a mainstay in plumber’s tool chest thanks to their convenience, efficiency, portability, and reliability. This tool affords the clean precision cut that is so important when repairing or replacing segments of piping. They are generally smaller and more manageable than traditional tools like hacksaws and easy to carry on jobs.

The type of cut made will be clean requiring little to no deburring and clean up. Pipe cutters do vary based on the pipe materials they are designed to cut through. They can be found for plastic, steel, aluminium, and of course copper piping.

How Does a Pipe Cutter Work?

Pipe cutters contain a wheel inside their design that will cut through a pipe as the cutter rotates around the pipe. Factors such as piping thickness and blade sharpness will influence the number of rotations necessary to successfully cut through a pipe.

Types of Pipe Cutters

There are quite a few different kinds of cutting tools used for pipe cutting. Not every type is appropriate for copper pipe cutting and each will bring its supply of benefits and drawbacks. Among these you’ll find:

  • Ratchet cutters (These cutters use a ratcheting action to cut tubing but are most often used on PVC, CPVC, and PEX pipes.)
  • Saws (Hacksaws can cut through most plumbing piping, Jigsaws that work on copper with metal cutting blades, Power miter saws that work on copper with metal cutting blades, and Reciprocating Saws that also require metal cutting blades.)
  • Snap cutters (A snap cutter is generally used for clay, iron, and concrete pipes.)

 

The Benefits of Using a Copper Pipe Cutter

Pipe cutters have a wide range of cutting uses and tend to be adaptable to the situation and quite versatile when used. Some of their most popular uses include 

  • Repairing pipes
  • Cutting piping to the desired length before proceeding with the installation
  • Cutting out pipes or sections of pipes before removal and replacement

These compact tools can offer significant advantages over traditional tools like a hacksaw

One of the principal benefits of a copper pipe cutter is that often you need to remove a damaged section of piping in a small or very tight space. This situation often means that it will be impossible to use a larger cutting tool or if you can manage to use a larger tool, you may run the risk of damaging surrounding pipework.

Copper pipe cutters are manufactured for specific piping sizes meaning that you get a good fit for the pipe you need to cut thus avoiding misalignment or even slipping during cutting. When space is limited, these small tools will require less space to operate in.

What to Consider in a Copper Pipe Cutter

If you are up to managing small plumbing issues by yourself, then a copper pipe cutter should find a place in your toolbox. When searching for your best copper pipe cutter, consider these factors.

·      Auto cutter

Aside from having a manual pair of cutters, an auto-cutter is ideal for all those places that are impossible to reach and above all work in. These cutters function in the worst of conditions and they do not require that you tighten the tool after every rotation is completed. The tool will do so automatically. Look for a dependable brand that will enjoy a long lifespan.

·      Thumb Cutter

If you need to cut pipes in a tight space but from an angle, a thumb cutter will be more convenient.

·      Cutter size and Handle

If you need to cut larger copper piping, perhaps for a new installation, look for a cutter with larger body size as well as handle. This will aid in the rotation around larger pipes. Some may even feature a built-in ream for precision cuts. When dealing with larger pipes, a larger cutter will ensure a clean cut. This will also enable any soldering you may need to do.

·      Power

Copper pipe cutters may be pneumatic, hydraulic, electric, or manual. Most are manual because they are less expensive and offer greater portability. For larger pipes, an electric pipe cutter will be a better choice as the motor will do the work.

·      Cutter Strength

When dealing with manual pipe cutters, select the correct size of cutter for the pipe diameter and make sure the cutter is appropriate for cutting copper.

Our 5 Best Copper Pipe Cutters

Best Overall Copper Pipe Cutter: Rigid Quick-Acting #31632 Tube Cutter 151

Cutting Thickness Capability ¼-inch to 1 7/8-inch (6 to 42mm)

What We Liked
  • Lightweight at 1.05lbs.
  • Easy to use
  • Hardened steel build
  • Good cutting
What We Didn’t Like
  • Expensive
  • Needs practice for the correct pressure app

This copper pipe cuter from Rigid provides seamless cutting for excellent results. It is an optimal choice for both professional plumbers and DIYer handymen. It features a rotary system that in its simplicity can handle smaller or larger pipe cutting necessities.

The 151 Tube Cutter cuts right through hard copper with ease and requires only a few moments to get the job done effectively regardless of angle or space.

Features:

  • Ergonomic design for comfort during operation
    • X-CEL wheel pin and ball detent means you can change the cutter wheel rapidly
    • Foldaway reamer
    • Cutting capacity is ¼-inch to 1 7/8-inch (6 to 42mm)

Best Power Tool Copper Pipe Cutter: Milwaukee Cordless 2471-20 M12 Lithium-Ion Copper Pipe Cutter

Cutting Thickness Capability 6mm to 50mm

What We Liked
  • Top-quality
  • Great handle
  • Can run on batteries
  • Good for tight places
What We Didn’t Like
  • Expensive
  • May not cut through bulky copper piping

This power copper pipe cutter from Milwaukee features a water-resistant casing to protect the motor from leaks when cutting pipes. The motor can reach 500RPM meaning you can get the job done faster than when using a manual pipe cutter or saw. The design allows for reduced clearing space down to 1.5-inches from the wall.

Eight various batteries from Milwaukee are compatible with this tool although it does not come with batteries or a battery charger included.

Features

  • Great for small spots
  • Large easy-grip handle
  • Cutting capacity from 6mm to 50mm
  • Auto-bolstering shaping wheel

Best Single-Handed Use Copper Pipe Cutter: Rigid Close Quarter #86127 118 Tube Cutter

Cutting Thickness Capability ¼-inch to 1 1/8-inch (6 to 28 mm.)

What We Liked
  • Great grip
  • Great cutting ability
  • Replacement wheels are easily found
What We Didn’t Like
  • Without instructions

This small gem is designed for those very uncomfortable tight spaces. A knurled screw knob makes use easy. The auto-feed cutting wheel tightens automatically after one tightening of the knob. There is also a spare cutter wheel in the knob.

The cutting capacity ranges from ¼-inch to 1 1/8-inch (6 to 28 mm.). This tool also features a special knob to tighten the feed screw. It can be easily used singlehandedly increasing convenience.

Features

  • Super for small spaces
  • Auto-feeding cutter
  • Large, knurled knob for easy handling

Best Hard-to-Reach Spaces Copper Pipe Cutter: Rigid Heavy-Duty #32820 Pipe Cutter

Cutting Thickness Capability 1/8-inch to 2 inches (3 to 50 mm.)

What We Liked
  • Sturdy heavy-duty design
  • Ideal for challenging spaces
  • Easy-to-use
  • Affordable
What We Didn’t Like
  • Instructions could be improved
  • Some difficulty when cutting near tops of pipes

Rigid offers us a heavy-duty pipe cutter with an original design in this 32820 Model Pipe Cutter. The quality build ensures rapid precision cuts in an easy-to-operate cutter. The best thing about this particular cutter is that it features an extra-long shank to protect any adjustment threads.

The extra-large handle means that adjustments are quick and easy, and this 2-A pipe cutter can be converted to a three-wheel cutter by simply substituting the rollers with a cutter wheel. This cutter has cutting capabilities that range from 1/8-inch to 2 inches (3 to 50 mm.)

Features

  • Extra-long shaft
  • Extra-large handle
  • Can be converted to a 3-wheel cutter
  • Lifetime warranty

Best Budget Copper Pipe Cutter: General Pipe Cleaners  AutoCut  ATC12 Copper Pipe Cutter

Cutting Thickness Capability ½-inch diameter

What We Liked
  • Efficient
  • Budget-friendly
  • Durable
  • Automatic pressure adjustment for cutting
What We Didn’t Like
  • Only for ½-inch in diameter copper pipes

This is a neat little automatic copper pipe cutter that is well-balanced and will handle difficult spaces at a great price. Designed for ½-inch in diameter copper pipe, it uses a general wire spring and spring-loaded cutting wheel to provide constant cutting pressure.

If you like the idea of a turning handle, there is a ratchet turning handle that can be purchased separately. This is easy and very quick to use. The cutter is snapped onto the pipe, you close the cutter’s gate and then proceed to turn in either direction. The cutter wheel will automatically tighten around the pipe that is being cut. It has no knobs or twisting mechanisms to use. There is no risk of crimping tubes.

Features

  • Fantastic for small spaces
  • Lightweight
  • Spring-loaded cutting wheel
  • Ratchet handle available separately
  • Turns in either direction for cutting
  • Automatic cutting pressure adjustments

Top Brands of Copper Pipe Cutters

Many manufacturers and brands produce pipe cutters. A well-known reliable brand will offer quality which is essential when selecting your pipe cutter. But because some brands offer many types and above all sizes of pipe cutters, you’ll want to do your research before purchasing so that you get the best pipe cutter for your specific project needs.

Popular brands include:

  • Irwin
  • Klein
  • Lenox
  • Loreso
  • Milwaukee
  • Rigid

Conclusion

Copper pipe cutters should be in the toolbox of anyone doing home plumbing repairs. If you feel up to the challenge, look into copper pipe cutters that are appropriate for your home or business pipe sizes and their locations for a tool that will provide you with good access.

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