In certain cases, you will have to cut the cast iron pipe with a Sawzall, and here’s how to do it right the first time. Not only that, but I’m going to show you my top tips for cutting cast iron pipe without damaging your Sawzall or the iron pipe.
Follow along with these simple steps, and you’ll be able to make your own custom length pipes in no time. This technique also works great on other materials like PVC, fiberglass, steel, and more.
Let’s jump right in.
How Hard Is a Cast Iron Pipe?
Cast iron is really hard and tough, it can resist some of your more traditional cutting implements. When working on cast-iron pipes, use extreme caution when using a cutting implement like an angle grinder or other power tool.
With that in mind, if you’re looking for a safer way to cut through your pipeline and still have precise control over where and how you’re doing it, try something else. Something like saws.
You might be surprised at just how easy it is to cut cast iron with a Sawzall. Check out our step-by-step guide below
Any time you’re cutting anything that could throw sparks, you should take extra precautions. Wear eye protection and hearing protection in case of flying debris, and when using your hand power tool (which should also have eye protection) you might want gloves.
It’s also a good idea to wear proper breathing protection; you don’t want particulates of metal getting into your lungs. When cutting cast iron, always make sure you’re wearing heavy-duty boots or shoes as well.
You never know what sharp pieces may come off during your project. If possible, it’s best to do any welding outside so as not to fill up your shop with smoke and fumes from burning metal.
Welding indoors is perfectly fine if you have adequate ventilation and are wearing a respirator for protection against toxic fumes.
And lastly, whenever you’re working around hot metal, watch out for hot surfaces. Cast iron can retain heat long after it has been removed from an open flame or torch.
The success of your project depends largely on which tool you use. Make sure you’re prepared with everything on our list, but not limited to: A good pair of safety glasses, protective gloves, safety shoes, and long sleeves are recommended.
Also, make sure that your tools are well maintained and oiled up before work begins. Be sure to have an extra blade on hand as well. And don’t forget ear protection-you don’t want to damage your hearing by using an electric saw without it.
You may also want to invest in a respirator mask if there is any chance of dust or fumes being released during your project. Finally, make sure you have enough room for yourself and your materials.
Cutting can get messy, so be careful where you choose to do it. We recommend doing so outside or in a garage where cleanup will be easier.
Step 1, Free Up Wrench or Pliers
First, disconnect any wrenches or pliers that are already connected to your tubing. This will make it easier for you to have both hands free when you use your Sawzall.
It is important that there are no obstructions in place while cutting cast iron because they can get caught up and possibly damage other parts of your piping system.
In addition, removing them from clamp-style fittings will make it easier on you when you want to tighten new fittings back into place after cutting.
Step 2, Cut Pipe With Sawzall (while holding wrench)
If you aren’t able to hold onto both sides of your pipe, you can use a cutting wheel or metal-cutting blades on your Sawzall. The key is that you still need something for your Sawzall to grab onto so that it doesn’t grab onto your wrench.
By using an attachment like one of these, you should be able to get through most old pipes without damaging them. (If possible, just stick with using wrenches).
Tips: Cut Pipe With Grinder: If you don’t have access to a Sawzall or other power tool, you can also grind away at your pipe. It will take longer and require more elbow grease than using a power tool but it will do in a pinch.
Be careful not to let sparks fly up into your face – they can burn skin and damage clothing too. To make things easier when grinding away at your pipe, put some lubricant around where you are going to cut.
Step 3, Remove Pipes
In an ideal world, you could just turn off your water and unscrew each piece of your pipeline one at a time. But, we all know that water is essential to life, so it might not be possible to avoid having leaks while doing your sewer line replacement.
In some cases, you’ll need to use heavy machinery like pry bars and jackhammers in order to dislodge stubborn pipes. Once everything has been disconnected from your main sewer line, it’s time for that tool you haven’t thought about since high school- the Sawzall.
If you can afford an electric version, go for it; otherwise, a handheld one will work just fine. A hacksaw or reciprocating saw would also do in a pinch.
Using short, quick strokes, cut through your old sewer line as close to where it connects to other pieces as possible. A nice clean break will save you money on repair costs later on. Then simply remove any leftover pieces using pliers or by hand.
Recap on tips for cutting cast iron pipe with a Sawzall.
Make sure you have all your safety gear on before starting. You will want leather gloves, a full face shield, and hearing protection. Make sure you have plenty of lubricant for cutting.
The type of lubricant you use is important because it will keep your blades from overheating and it won’t stick to your blade when using a cooling oil. Cast Iron is tough and dulls tools quickly so purchase high-quality tools if you plan on doing more than one job.
What kind of Sawzall blade Do I need to cut cast iron?
There are several varieties of blades available for your Sawzall. If you’re cutting through stainless steel, you’ll need an all-purpose blade. To finish plumbing jobs, use a bi-metal blade, and for cutting concrete or masonry (with no rebar), choose a diamond blade.
But if you’re removing cast iron, don’t panic. You can do it with a standard all-purpose blade. Just take it slow and steady- the slower you go, the less likely you are to break off chunks of metal that could damage your tool or injure you.
Do you have an old Sawzall blade? you can read an interesting article on how to reuse it.
Can I cut stainless steel with a Sawzall?
Sawzalls are incredibly powerful, but they’re not magic. In fact, they can’t cut through every type of metal. Stainless steel is one of those types of metals (along with aluminum and copper).
Cutting stainless steel can damage your blades, cause you injury or even start an explosion in your shop. It’s best to leave these metals for heavy-duty equipment such as oxyacetylene torches. Still, some blades can do the job.
Watch the video to get more clarification
Don’t let people tell you that cutting a cast iron pipe is impossible. Although getting enough leverage on some pipes may indeed be challenging, if there’s enough room and using your feet will do, then you shouldn’t worry too much about having to get your hands dirty while cutting off an old pipe.
Just make sure you have safety equipment when operating a Sawzall and handle them both properly and safely so that you can get it done right.