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How to Cut a Metal Pipe From the Inside Out

C.L. Rease

Performing a cut on metal pipe that is below the level of the floor for a floor drain or above a drywall ceiling for a sprinkler head is impossible with standard pipe-cutting tools. This is due to the design of most cutting tools. The majority of pipe-cutting tools span the outside surface of the metal pipe and then twist around the pipe to force a hardened blade into the surface of metal pipe. With a sub-surface cut, you need a pipe-cutting tool that fits inside the metal pipe and performs the cut from the inside to the outside of the pipe.

Push-type pipe cutters have the ability to cut metal pipe below grade.
  1. Inspect the push-type tubing cutter, including the cutting blades for signs of wear or stress. If you located stress fractures, damage or dull cutting blades, refer to the operating manual for the cutting tool to determine the proper methods of exchanging damaged parts.

  2. Insert the arbor of the push-type pipe cutter into the chuck of the drill motor and set the direction of the drill motor to forward. Make sure that the push-type tubing cutter is held secure within the chuck of the drill motor.

  3. Apply a liberal coat of cutting fluid to the entire length of the push-type tubing cutter.

  4. Place the tubing cutter inside the metal pipe and slide the cutter into the pipe until the thrust collar is resting firmly on the end of the metal pipe. This will ensure that the pipe cutter is centered within the metal pipe.

  5. Apply light even pressure on the drill motor, toward the end of the metal pipe and then pull the trigger of the drill to start cutting through the metal pipe.

  6. Continue applying pressure on the drill motor. When you feel the blades cutting through the outside of the pipe, lessen the amount of pressure you are applying to the drill motor. If you apply too much pressure near the end of the cut, the cutting blades will catch on the pipe and break.

  7. Release the pressure you are applying to the drill motor to close the push-type pipe cutting tool and pull the cutter from the pipe. Pull the cut piece of metal pipe away from the remaining metal pipe.

  8. Clean the push-type pipe cutter with the cleaning solvent to remove metal shavings and cutting fluid from the push-type pipe cutter.