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How To Cut Cast Iron Pipe With an Angle Grinder

How To Cut Cast Iron Pipe With an Angle Grinder

If you are looking for a way to cut cast iron pipe, you probably know that there are plenty of options from which to choose. One of the most popular tools is called an angle grinder. In the past, iron pipes were coming for drainage, sewer systems, residential, and Commercial properties. Even though cast iron pipework used to be popular, there are numerous alternatives that have been developed. Since 1975, iron pipes have not been nearly as common. 

This is because iron pipes tend to develop rust. Once they begin to rust, they could lead to disastrous leaks. That is why PVC pipes and ABS pipes are commonly used instead of cast iron. Furthermore, installing these other types of pipes is far easier than iron pipes because they weigh so much less. 

If you find yourself having to remove, replace, or repair cast iron pipe, this can be tricky. Particularly if you are not used to working in enclosed spaces, you might get a little bit uncomfortable. Fortunately, if you have the correct tool for the job, you can use an angle grinder to swiftly cut through segments of cast iron pipe. You can also use a reciprocating saw or a hacksaw to get the job done. How can you make this job a success?

Can I Use a Grinder To Cut Cast Iron Pipe?

Iron Pipe

Yes! You can certainly use an angle grinder to slice through cast iron pipe. With the right cutting tool, you can cut just about any size pipe. At the same time, you are going to find that the job is much easier if you have a modern angle grinder that you might have gotten with affiliate links. In addition, you also need to use the right wheel. A decent cut off wheel or a diamond wheel can be attached to your angle grinder, making the job even easier. 

Furthermore, once you have the angle grinder set up, you need to make sure that you make marks on your iron pipe so that you know where to cut. Talk is a great, cheap, durable option for marking up your iron pipes. 

Finally, you also need to make sure that you protect yourself appropriately. When it comes to PPE items, there are a few examples that you certainly need to consider. This includes: 

  • Safety shoes that are capped with steel 
  • A work shirt that is resistant to flames 
  • A respirator mask, such as a P2 respirator mask or a P3 respirator mask 
  • Safety glasses that wrap around the entirety of your face 
  • Work gloves that will provide you with impact protection

Once you have collected the right PPE, you should be good to go and can cut through your cast iron pipe safely. 

What Is the Best Way To Cut Cast Iron Pipe?

Cast Iron Pipe

Once you have the equipment and your PPE, it is time to cut through some iron pipes. Without a doubt, the best method to get the job done is to cut the pipe on a sturdy workbench. Make sure that you take the pipework and attach it firmly to the vice attached to your workbench. If you can create this situation, all the more power to use; however, there is a good chance that you are going to have to adapt to the work environment in which you work before you can cut through cast iron pipe.

Usually, a piece of cast iron pipe that you are trying to cut might be located in a pit, under the house, or up in the rafters somewhere. If you are fortunate enough to find that your iron pipes are protruding through the ceiling, then this might make your job easier. 

Sure, you can use brute force and your angle grinder to chop your way through iron pipes that could be over 100 years old. On the other hand, you might find that this job is going to get much easier if you use something called a reciprocating saw. The reciprocating saw is going to cut through iron pipes much quicker, particularly if you are not fortunate enough to attach the iron pipe to the workbench of your angle grinder. In order to make the job even easier, you might want to use a diamond blade or a carbide-tipped reciprocating saw to slice through cast iron that could be close to a foot thick. 

Finally, if you are still looking for other options for cast iron, then you may want to use a snap cutter. Cutting cast iron using an angle grinder is a bit more time-consuming when compared to the other options; however, it will work efficiently and will allow you to make your cuts accurately if you apply the right pressure to the material.

Finally, you want to make sure that you never sliced through unsupported cast iron pipes. If you are working on a piece of pipe that is positioned vertically, then make sure that you use a clamp. A basic riser clamp will prevent the fragment from tumbling to the ground, striking equipment or people in the process. Of course, cast iron is incredibly heavy. You do not want to see a segment of this type flying around after you slice it off with a power tool. This can place you under a lot of pressure and could put you in harm's way due to the heavy material.

How Do You Cut a Pipe With an Angle Grinder?

So, you have decided to go with your trusty angle grinder after all for your cast iron pipework. If you are going to use your angle grinder to slice through cast iron pipework, some of the steps that you need to follow include: 

  • First, use a ratchet tool to make sure that the diamond surface, reciprocating saw blade, or metal cut off disc is attached firmly to the angle grinder 
  • Use a clear piece of luminescent chalk to mark the section of cast iron pipework that you are going to cut 
  • Make sure that you attach all of the PPE to protect your feet, ears, eyes, and hands 
  • Take the section of cast iron pipe and place it on the workbench using the bench vice if this is possible 
  • If the section of cast iron pipe is positioned vertically, don't forget to attach your basic riser clamps to prevent it from tumbling to the ground after you slice it with a back and forth motion 
  • Once you are ready, turn on the angle grinder and commence your cuts, working your way around the pipe until it is weak enough to be penetrated, an important tip for all DIYers
  • Make sure that you continue your cut around the entire perimeter of the cast iron pipe, allowing the grinder wheel to penetrate the pipe at every point 
  • You may find that you need to complete the job using a regular cold chisel, driving it through any remaining segments to snap the pipe off 
  • As you finish the job with a cold chisel, use a lot of caution, at the pipe may start at tumble, flail, and could strike other posts, products, or someone else in the process 

These are a few of the basic steps that you need to keep in mind when you are using or angle grinder to slice through cast iron pipes. Even though you want to finish the job efficiently, remember that safety should always come first. Do not commence your cuts unless your PPE is in place and your cast iron pipe is secure. Do not overlook the importance of a cold chisel for cutting cast iron pipe. A cold chisel is one of the most important tools you can use if you are cutting cast iron pipe, even with a diamond blade or a cutoff wheel with the proper know how.

Can You Use an Angle Grinder To Cut PVC Pipe?

PVC Pipe

On the other hand, if you have PVC pipes that you need to cut, you may be thinking about using the same tool to accomplish this task. On the other hand, you should try to stay very far away from using an angle grinder to slice or cut through PVC. If you use angle grinders on PVC pipe (or some other hot power tool), the PVC is going to melt. As a result, your blade is going to end up getting clogged. Furthermore, the hot metal and sparks could end up starting a fire by igniting the plastic. Therefore, you should try to use something else instead of an angle grinder if you are going to cut PVC with a power tool during your plumbing project. 

If you are planning on replacing cast iron pipe with PVC, there are several steps that you should follow. First, remove any LED from the cast iron pipework so that you can install something called a service bushing. This is something that you are going to insert into the cut cast iron pipe. That way, you can transition from the cast iron pipe into PVC without having to worry about a leak developing. 

After this, make sure that you cut your PVC segments safely. Without a doubt, the best tool to cut PVC pipe is a simple hacksaw, hand saw, snap cutter, or backsaw. You probably already have a snap cutter in your toolbox or garage. Even though this can be a little bit time-consuming, this is the most straightforward method to cut PVC. There is a chance that you may have to remove burrs around the edges of your PVC pipe. 

Next, connect every joint to your PVC without using glue or primer. Make sure that they connect as they should. Finally, take some glue and lock the PVC pipe into place. It is important to measure twice before you attach the glue because once the glue is in place, there is no undoing it. 

Finally, use rubber couplings and stainless steel clamps to finish the job. The final fittings that you are going to be using will depend on the exact nature of the job that you are carrying out. Make sure that you do some research ahead of time on the building, the iron pipes, and the PVC pipes that you are using to find the correct fittings for the task. 

Always Cut Cast Iron Pipes and PVC Pipes Safely

PVC Pipes

This is a brief overview of how you can use angle grinders to slice or cut cast iron pipe. Make sure that you have the correct safety equipment if you are going to cut cast iron in the near future. Furthermore, you should always make sure that you use the right saw blade as well. Make a mark on the cast iron pipe before you start the cutting process and always have a backup method. It might be difficult for you to attach the cast iron pipe to your workbench and could make it hard for you to get around the pipe with a cutting wheel. Whether you are trying to perform a DIY plumbing project with a reciprocating saw or trying to address sewer pipe applications, make sure that you use riser clamps as well. Cutting cast iron is a dangerous task and you want to be as safe as possible when you do this.

Finally, if you are going to cut cast iron pipe and replace it with PVC, you do not want to use an angle grinder on PVC pipes because it could melt, starting a fire in the process. Instead, use a basic snap cutter or saw and make sure that you remove any rough edges before you attach the PVC pipes in place. Check your toolbox because you probably have a snap cutter in there already. If not, head to Home Depot and look for the right tools in the table of contents area to help you with mains drainage.

Ultimately, as long as you think carefully about the type of pipe that you are working on and always place safety first, it is difficult to go wrong. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to a professional plumber for assistance. They will have the know how, grinding wheel, power tools, cutoff wheel, a roller chain, and skills to help you address this task safely and confidently.

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