Tools to Cut Cast Iron Pipe


Cast iron pipe is a very strong but relatively brittle type of pipe. Piping made out of cast iron can last for many decades but newer technology is rapidly replacing cast iron piping. Little, if any, cast iron piping finds its way into modern construction. Cast iron piping can be rather difficult to cut or otherwise modify and only a handful of tools are appropriate for cutting through this type of piping.

Properties of Cast Iron

  • Cast iron is made out of an iron-carbon alloy that is between 3.0 and 4.5 percent carbon and between 0.5 and 3.5 percent silicon. Small amounts of elements like sulfur, manganese and phosphorous are also used in cast iron. Cast iron can be made into complex shapes like piping in one production step and the material is linked with a low price tag. Cast iron even offers corrosion-resistant properties but simply cannot outperform cast steel or wrought steel.


  • Consumers have access to handsaws as well as power saws that are designed to cut through cast iron pipe. Hacksaws can be used to manually cut through cast iron but they are perhaps the least efficient of all the tools recommended for cutting through cast iron pipe. The consumer may go through several blades while cutting through the average cast iron drainage pipe with a hand hacksaw. Chop saws and reciprocating saws can be fitted with blades that are specially designed to cut through cast iron. Most metal-cutting blades provide enough strength to cut through cast iron. Saws are usually employed as a last resort for cast iron pipe cutting applications.


  • A cold chisel and hammer can be used to chip through a cast iron pipe. Using a chisel and hammer to chop through a cast iron pipe requires a high level of expertise. The best method of cutting through a cast iron pipe involves drawing a chalk line around the pipe and slowly chipping along the line until the pipe splits. It should only take a few passes around the pipe until it splits because cast iron is somewhat brittle.

Snap Cutter

  • Snap cutters are the most efficient tools for cutting through cast iron pipe. Snap cutters are a plumber's tool-of-choice for cast iron pipe cutting applications --- they can make quick, clean work of cutting through a cast iron pipe. These tools do not so much cut as they do break. A snap cutter does not use a blade to cut through cast iron pipe; it uses a special chain that applies equal pressure at many equidistant points around a pipe. The pressure effectively snaps the pipe across a controlled area.


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