Top tips on how to cut clay pipes

Published:  09 June, 2016

When the time comes to cut clay pipe on site, Hepworth Clayware believes the best practice approach is to use standard short lengths instead. However, if you are going to cut clay pipe, Paul Wydell, offers some top tips to make sure you do it right.

Despite the common misconception that cutting pipe on site when you need it is the most efficient way of working, we believe that the use of standard short lengths should be favoured over cutting pipe on-site wherever and whenever possible.

In practice, not only is pipe cutting time consuming, the ‘offcut’ is often discarded, making the cut a very expensive one. Removing the need to cut pipe on-site will reduce installation time; requiring only short length fittings to be collected from the delivery pallet and installed.

However, some installers still prefer the on-site pipe cutting approach and are keen to ensure all cuts are made safely and achieve secure and reliable connections. That’s why we’re keen to promote the following pipe cutting tools and techniques.

Lever Action Chain Cutter
When using a lever action chain cutter, the following procedure should be observed:

  • Ensure you have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task, (plus any site specific requirements) which must include eye protection and hand gloves
  • Create a suitable working area and pass the chain under the pipe, aligning the cutting wheels to be square to the pipe and on the desired cut line
  • Hook the appropriate chain link onto the jaw of the pipe cutter
  • Tighten the chain by pulling the arms of the cutter together
  • Make a final check for alignment of chain with the pipe, then continue to tension chain until the pipe cuts
  • After cutting, remove any sharp edges with a pipe trimmer. Hepworth’s SuperSleve MPT1 pipe trimmer is adjustable for both 100mm and 150mm diameter pipes.

Powered Masonry Saw
This method can be used to cut any diameter of clay pipe, but is most likely used on 225mm and 300mm (as 100mm and 150mm can be cut faster with a chain cutter). The cutting disk can be a relatively inexpensive carborundum blade, which will produce an acceptable cut but the speed of cut will be slower. The life of the blade will also be shorter, as its diameter will reduce as it wears down, reducing its effectiveness.

We believe a diamond-tipped blade is the best option, as it has a continuous rim of diamond particles specifically designed for cutting hard ceramic product to deliver a clean and high-quality cut. Additionally, its full cutting diameter is preserved. A good quality, diamond-tipped blade, carefully used, should be able to make around 70 225mm pipe cuts in its lifetime, offsetting its high initial cost. But beware, cut a concrete kerb once with this blade and its useful life ends right there.

Before using a powered masonry saw, a safe system of work (SSoW) should be designed, approved and followed:

  • Ensure you have the correct PPE for the task, (plus any site specific requirements) which must include eye and hearing protection, a dust mask to FFP2 standard and hand gloves
  • Your company may require that you have been successfully trained in the correct selection and fitment of the blade for the task and operation of the saw
  • Before any pipe cutting operation commences, read and adhere to the safety and operating instructions of both the masonry saw and the blade manufacturer
  • Make a clear mark around the circumference of the pipe at the desired length
  • The pipe being cut should be positioned in a horizontal and stable position
  • Care should be taken to support and secure both halves of the pipe being created by the cut, to avoid the blade being nipped as the pipe separates
  • Once the appropriate PPE is in place, commence the cut; the best quality cut is generally achieved by making one continuous cut, rotating the pipe allowing the blade to do the work and not applying additional load to the saw. It is also important to not side load the blade
  • Any remaining sharp edges may require trimming with an emery stone

When installing a cut pipe of any variety, try to ensure that the cut end is facing downstream. This then reduces the potential for snagging in the drain or sewer, limiting the potential for blockages and sewer overflows.

Paul Wydell is product manager of Hepworth Clayware

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