Super Handyman: Tips and tricks for cutting pipes - The Buffalo News
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Super Handyman: Tips and tricks for cutting pipes

Cutting wood can be done lots of different ways, but cutting pipe is a little trickier – especially plumbing pipe of any kind. There are a variety of methods you can use, but some are easier than others. Here are our best tips and tricks:

To prevent the pipe from rolling while you are trying to cut it, place it between two scraps of wood, on a rubber mat or even in a miter box. If the pipe is stout, you might use a clamp or vise, but be careful not to bend it.

For strong pipe, you can use a hacksaw or reciprocating saw.

For softer pipe, a special pipe-cutting tool will work best. These work by gently clamping around the pipe and rotating the round cutting blade around the pipe, cutting a little bit at a time. Tighten the tool after each round to cut a little deeper each time, until the pipe is cut. If you don’t have one of these cutting tools, your hardware store will have a good variety in several sizes to choose from.

After the pipe has been cut, smoothing it with sandpaper or a de-burring tool will clean it up and ready it for a good joint.

Another old-timer way to cut a pipe is to saw through it with a piece of wire or string. You place the string under the pipe and hold both ends on either side and pull it back and forth in a sawing motion. This is a good way to cut a pipe when you have no room for a saw or pipe cutter.

To keep a softer metal pipe from crimping, you can stuff it with a dowel rod before cutting it. Of course, this isn’t always possible.

Take your time, and you’ll get good results. Good luck!


Q: I have some tar spots on my driveway. I’m not sure where they came from, but I’d like to see if I can get rid of them. What will remove them? – T.Y.

A: Paint thinner should help dilute and loosen it. Then you can scrape it off with a putty knife. A wire brush also is a good tool to use. Once clean, use a water seal to protect the surface to avoid stains in the future.


Q: This is an odd problem, but we need your help. We have a courtyard outside our main entry that smells like cat urine. It has a gate around it, and we assume that the previous homeowners must have let their cats use it as a litter box. How can we get rid of the smell? – H.N.

A: If the dirt is that contaminated, it might be easiest to remove the smelly dirt and just replace it. Dirt is pretty inexpensive, hence the phrase “dirt cheap.” If there are concrete surfaces, you need to treat them with an enzymatic cleaner, available at your local pet store. These are pretty effective for absorbed odors on surfaces like concrete.

A Super hint

So many of us are using rechargeable tools these days that it makes sense to create your own “charging station.” Just install these chargers together in one place, with a surge protector/power strip. Then you can keep your batteries charged and ready, all in one place.


If your deck is worn and weathered, or your concrete patio is stained and/or just boring, check out Olympic Rescue It! Resurfacer. The 100 percent acrylic coating will give these surfaces a whole new look, and you can do it yourself. It’s designed to fill cracks up to ¼-inch deep in both wood and concrete surfaces. The finely textured surface is slip-resistant and barefoot-friendly. It even locks in splinters and provides waterproof protection year-round. It’s both easy to apply and easy to clean up, and it’s available in a nice variety of colors at your paint or hardware store, as well as most home centers.

To find out more, go to

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at Those of general interest will be used in future columns.

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