As the name suggests, tube cutters are tools used to cut pipes and tubes. They are almost always better options for this task than tools like hacksaws, as tube cutters are faster and provide a smoother, cleaner cut while being generally easier to fit into tighter spaces. Though mainly used by plumbers, tube cutters are used by many people to complete home repairs or DIY projects. If you’re looking to add a good tube cutter to your toolbox, here are some we recommend.
Buying Guide for Tube Cutters
Why buy tube cutters?
If you ever try your hand at DIY plumbing projects, a great set of tube cutters will make your life so much easier. Tube cutters are designed to be used in tight spaces so that you can cleanly cut copper, brass, aluminum, or plastic tubing without having to first disassemble your existing plumbing. They also take a majority of the strain out of cutting pipes and tubes so that the task can be accomplished quickly, without taking a toll on your body.
What should you look for in tube cutters?
- Design: Make sure any tube cutter you purchase is designed for cutting the material of the pipe or tube you’ll be working on. Many tube cutters work on a wide range of metals, plastics, and PVC, but some are for specialized applications. Cutting the wrong material with a tube cutter can cause you to damage the product.
- Size: Tube cutters come in a range of sizes, so check that yours is both large enough to fit around what you’re cutting and small enough to fit in your workspace. There are also lightweight options that are easier to use in confined spaces.
- Material: Because they’re used for items that are usually built from metal or plastic, you’ll want to buy a tube cutter that is made of a strong, durable, and long-lasting material like steel or aluminum. Be sure to read some user reviews as well in order to see if a product’s durability is up to the task at hand.
How does cutting speed affect a tube cutter’s usability?
Faster cutting speeds usually correspond to a cleaner cut and less particulates polluting the air you’re breathing. If you plan on using your tube cutter often, investing in a product that gets the job done as quickly as possible isn’t a bad idea.
Our Picks for the Best Tube Cutters
Ridgid Model 101 Close Quarters Tubing Cutter
This compact tube cutter sports an easy-to-use design that is perfect for use in confined spaces.
Pros: If you’re seeking a budget-friendly tube cutter perfect for working in tight spaces, the Ridgid Model 101 Close Quarters Tubing Cutter is your best bet. This highly-rated tool makes precise cuts with minimal rotations of its easy-to-turn thumb wheel and is compact enough to be used against walls or in confined areas. It’s also quite versatile and can be used on brass, copper, or aluminum tubing. Of course, it also cuts through plastic like butter, so you’ll be investing in a tool that’s ready for a wide range of applications.
Cons: Some reviewers questioned the overall durability of this tool, noting that it can be broken fairly easily when dropped. That being said, it seems to hold up well during routine use, so if you take care of this tube cutter, you should be able to get plenty of use out of it.
Bottom Line: This tube cutter is an amazing investment for the price, thanks to its compact design and clean cuts. Compared to similar tools, its unique thumb wheel provides more grip and precision while cutting, so it requires very little use before you can master it. It also includes a spare cutter, making it a superb value for its affordable price tag.
SharkBite U701 PEX Tubing Cutter
This lightweight tube cutter cuts PEX tubing clean and square while minimizing hand strain.
Pros: If you’re undertaking a DIY PEX plumbing job, the SharkBite U701 PEX Tubing Cutter can make your life much easier. This tube cutter works on various PEX tubing sizes and produces clean, square cuts with its incredibly sharp blade. It keeps user strain to a minimum, thanks to its lightweight design. It’s also compact and fits into your hand well, so it’s easy to navigate in hard-to-reach spots and accomplish a clean cut with a single hand.
Cons: Some reviewers noted that ratcheting PEX tube cutters are somewhat more beginner-friendly than this model. Cutting PEX tubing perfectly so that it’s compatible with fittings does require a learning curve, so it’s wise to take some practice cuts if you are new to the game. Also, don’t use this to cut anything that will dull its blade, as that will ruin the precision of its cuts.
Bottom Line: When it comes to accessories for working with PEX tubing, SharkBite is probably the most trusted name out there, and it’s easy to see why. Anyone who’s ever tried to cut PEX tubing with a razor blade knows just how hard it is to get a clean cut, making what this budget-friendly tool accomplishes all the more impressive.
Lenox Tubing Cutter
This durable tube cutter holds up incredibly well to the rigors of heavy-duty use.
Pros: Those looking for a tube cutter that is solid and durable should consider adding the Lenox Tubing Cutter to their plumbing tool collection. This tube cutter stands out for its rugged build quality and unique design. It uses its four rollers to cut smaller tubing than similar products. It also stays on track better than most tube cutters on the market, so walking and threading shouldn’t be an issue. If you regularly find yourself working on copper or PVC tubing, this is one of the best tube cutters out there.
Cons: This tool has a removable reamer that has a tendency to fall out, which is bound to annoy those who are in the process of using it. Also, it’s slightly heavier than similar options on the market, so it might fatigue your arm when used for extended sessions.
Bottom Line: If you regularly use a tube cutter on the job, investing in this model is a good idea since it’s designed with the rigors of everyday use in mind. While this tool’s a little more expensive than other tube cutters that you’ll find, you won’t find many people questioning its dependability or quality cuts.
Ridgid Model 152 Quick-Acting Tubing Cutter
This tube cutter is fast, efficient, and durable enough to withstand years of frequent use.
Pros: The Ridgid Model 152 Quick-Acting Tubing Cutter is a great heavy-duty tube cutter for those who need something that will cut larger metal tubing without breaking a sweat. It can even be used on some galvanized steel tubes, and its durable cutter wheel stays sharp even after demanding jobs. This tube cutter also makes it easy to switch out the cutter wheel when needed, making it a convenient option for those who will be cutting a variety of pipe materials.
Cons: This tube cutter is fairly expensive, so those who will only occasionally use their tube cutter to cut smaller PVC tubing can save some money by investing in a budget-friendly tube cutter that caters to their less demanding applications.
Bottom Line: While this isn’t the most affordable tube cutter on the market, it’s one of the most dependable options designed to handle many applications. It also features a stunning build quality, so don’t expect to replace it any time soon if you’re the type of person who takes care of their tools.
Milwaukee 2471-21 12-Volt Copper Tubing Cutter Kit
This reliable power tool is a great option for professionals who need to cut copper tubing as quickly and cleanly as possible.
Pros: The Milwaukee 2471-21 12-Volt Copper Tubing Cutter Kit is a great option for professional plumbers, thanks to the speed and precision with which it cuts copper tubing. This tool can cut your work time in half thanks to its 500-RPM rotating blade, and its unique head design requires very little clearance to secure tubing. It also stands out for its built-in LED light, which makes working under cabinets a breeze. Factor in its rust- and corrosion-resistant design, and you can see why it’s such a highly-rated product.
Cons: This power tool might exceed the needs of most DIYers who simply require a reliable means to cut the occasional copper or PVC tube. That being said, if you’re about to undertake a serious job where you’re remodeling several bathrooms, using this tool over a conventional tube cutter will save you a ton of time.
Bottom Line: While this isn’t a tool that every DIYer should have on their radar, it simplifies the job for those who are tired of using conventional tube cutters. Also, it delivers over 200 cuts per charge, so you should be able to complete quite a few jobs before you need to think about charging its long-lasting 12-volt battery.
Nothing is more aggravating than mangling tubing with a sub-par tube cutter. Be sure to do your research before selecting the model that’s right for you, as this will ensure that you end up with a product that’s tailor-made for the applications you have in mind.