Cutting tubing

I use copper tubing to make my enamel beads. Ever since I
started I’ve used a hand held tube cutter and cut each one, one
at a time. I’ve made thousands of beads this way. Cutting the
tubes by hand is time consuming and imprecise. I’m trying to
find a way to cut the tubing faster and more accurately.

Today we tried using the table saw. The saw would cut about
half way through the tubing and then rip it off. Needless to
say, the results we unusable. We also tried putting the tubing
in a wood channel to be cut so they wouldn’t get ripped off, but
it wasn’t easy and the edges were still very rough. I’d have to
buff the burr off the edges of the tubes. If I’m going to spend
time doing that, I might as well cut the tubes by hand.

Does anyone have any suggestions for how I might mechanize tube
cutting? The tubing I’m using is 3/8" and 1/4".

Pam East

Try putting shorter lengths of tube in your flex shaft #30
handpiece. Remember that it spins in one direction so hold your
saw accordingly (so that it spins INTO the teeth). You can file
it true the same way.

Andy Cooperman

Hi, Use an metal cutting abrasive blade in the table saw.

Use a backing block that supports all sides (surrounds) of the
cut. Drill a hole for the tubing and then make a slot for the

Wear a dust mask and eye protection… I also wear hearing
protection…yes, I look like an et but I also still have very
acute hearing… I play music you know…

Be careful, have fun…make art…

All the best,


I use copper tubing to make my enamel beads.  Ever since I
started I've used a hand held tube cutter ...
Does anyone have any suggestions for how I might mechanize tube
cutting? The tubing I'm using is 3/8" and 1/4".  

G’day; A very efficient and cheap tubing cutter has a
hardened sharp wheel-cutter. ( See a Plumber’s Merchant, or a DIY
shop) The tube is placed in a groove, the two hinged parts closed
over it, and the tube is rotated against the wheel cutter. This
gives a very clean cut, though it does produce an internal burr.
The cutters usually have a hardened triangular piece of steel
which folds out so you can ream the internal burr out.
However, this device does take a while to cut each one, (well,
around a minute or so) so I suggest that you straighten your tube
as much as you can, and place it in the chuck of a drill capable
of very slow speeds. One of the modern electric variable-speed
drills, or perhaps an old-fashioned - but still efficient - hand
cranked drill held in a bench vice could be used to do the actual
turning. Another suggestion is to use a powered jigsaw with a
fine blade to cut the tube. A piece of 3/4" angle iron with a
fine saw cut could be used as a jig to hold the tube and to cut
off exact lengths, the tube being rotated in the angle to just
cut through the wall of the tube. A bit of metal could be
soldered to the angle-iron jig to act as a stop, so each piece
cut would be exactly the same length. The same sort of jig could
also be used with a jeweller’s hand saw. A school-person would
be delighted to make a bit of pocket money! There’s my tuppence
worth! Cheers,

       / \
     /  /
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 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2

At sunny Nelson NZ

Is the tubing cutter that you use one of the plumber’s style
with the adjustable wheels (you rotate it around the tubing as
you tighten it) or the jeweler’s cutting jig? The 3/8" tubing
probably is too large for the jig. Most production cutters
probably would use straight tubing cut in some variation of a
lathe to automate the cutting process. The tube is fed through
the hollow spindle, held by a chuck, and cut off as it spins. A
lot of production wedding bands and tube settings are made this
way. You need to talk with a tool maker to set up the right tool
for this job. A small machine shop could help you, if you had
them cut hundreds at a time, to make the cost per piece

A table saw blade might not be fine enough to cut properly, the
wall thickness of the tubing is rather thin. A cut off saw might
work- it is a rotary or band saw type of cutter where the blade
is brought down on top of the tubing. You still need a very fine
metal blade for cutting soft copper tubing.

Rick Hamilton
Richard D. Hamilton

Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography

What about a mini tubing cutter that plumbers use? It goes
’round & 'round the tubing, has a cutting wheel on one side,
which compresses the tubing against the other side and eventually
cuts it. The tubing is cut bur-free. If you could figure out how
to mechanize it, you would be home free. Maybe stick one thing or
the other into a chuck on a drill?

the tubing would mount into a standard jacobs chuck of
appropiate size and spin. be careful of speed. a longer chunk
would have a tendency to ‘whip’ if run too fast.

this is actually not too far from the way plumbing pipe is
cut/threaded. a look at the local hardware with this service
might provide some inspiration

Hello all, I have a project coming up for which I will have to
cut very small tubing (slightly larger than the size of “liquid
silver” beads). I am going to need 1200 pieces approximately
2mm long. If I use a cutting disc I will never get them all the
same size. If I use my tube cutting jig and a saw I will be
suffering from tendonitis. I am hoping someone has a better
idea or knows of a better tool. I’m confident that one of you
tool junkies must know of something. Gratefully - Deb

you can cut silver tube by rolling it under a sharp knife blade
back and forth , making sure to keep the blade at right angles to
the tube. it will then snap at the groove you have made quite
neatly. Perhaps a little jig with a groove for the knife (the old
bone handled table knives are good ) and a depth stop for the
length would give you consistent length. Tim.

Hi Deb,

While in Tucson this past February I stopped by the Indian
Jeweler’s Supply booth and got a demo on a really nifty tiny
table saw that they sell. It is powered by a #30 flex shaft
handle, so you probably already have the engine to drive it. The
thing looks just like a table saw, with the cutting blade [the
same one used in jump ringers I believe] coming up above the
table from below. There is a fence and a nice safety holding
device that allows you to feed precise amounts in time after
time, with your fingers far from the action. It was designed for
folks who really need to cut tubing, and it sounds like you do!
I don’t do that much tube cutting, and needed the jump ringer
right away, so that’s where my money went. But you might give
them a call and ask about it. Their general info number is
505-722-4451; their sales number is 800-545-6540.

I don’t have any affiliation with IJS, I’m just a long time
satisfied customer and a tool hound.

Good luck!

Anne Hollerbach

I have a brochure (it isn’t unpacked yet) for a cutter primarily
used in granulation. You can set the machine so the wire is cut
in exact lengths every time you push the wire in. It should also
work for tubing. I will make an effort to locate the name of the
company and the cutter.

well if it were me and I had to cut 1200 small tubes I would use
my very small by goldsmiths standards,8mm watchmakers lathe. If
you put a hardened steel runner inside your tube and extend it
between centers, my small lathe I could coax ten inches between
centers I think, then mark off your cuts and begin turning. If
you understand I think you could cut your tubes without
appreciably worrying about the hardened steel liner ( you did
heat harden it first) If there is a good watchmaker in your
area who knows how to use a lathe ask him for some pivot wire
as the inner rod and heat harden first…don’t temper. And maybe
ask to borrow his lathe.

good luck

Terry Parresol


This is how I do it:

  1. Hold your handpiece in a vice on the edge of the bench,
    above the tray.

  2. Insert and tighten a piece of the tubing into the handpiece,
    turn it and with a file, straiten the end-face, while supporting
    your hand on the vice.

  3. While turning it, mark the length of the tube, you intend to
    cut, with the compas.( I only use draftsman’s compas, the
    jeweller’s is too crude.)

  4. Then, turn and cut with fine saw-blade, gently, without
    really pushing. ( You may have to change the direction of the saw

  5. Next you do not need the fileing of the face, because the
    cut is supposed to be perfectly strait. If it isn’t, then repeat
    the whole procedure.

Note: If you insert a wire into the tube, while cutting, with
its outside end bent in a hook, it will catch the cut off pieces,
they won’t fly all over. The tube you start with, must be strait.
If it is not, just turn it around at high speed and useing two
pieces of wood, straiten or “iron” it out. At anyrate, the part
hanging out of the handpiece shouldn’t be longer, then 3/4-1

The whole thing takes a little practice, but it yields perfectly
straight cut and identical slices of tubings.

Let me know in privat, whether it worked for you. I use this
method for many years, and can cut appr. 120-140 pieces an hour.

I can’t remember who needed to cut small stainless tubing, but I saw
a mini chop/cut-off saw at the harbor freight store today.

If I needed to cut a lot of this material I’d consider this tool.
The blade is about "2 in diameter. Haven’t tried it and don’t know
any thing about it’s durability, but the cost was around $29. Might
be worth a try.

This thing is small. The total footprint is probably "12 X "12.

Best, l

I bought two of these mini chop saws and a regular size chop saw.
The mini’s don’t have a lot of power but, enough to cut 1/4" X 1/4"
inch bar stock including brass. You have to go slow with 1/4". Tubing
is a breeze. It will also cut miters. I also have a mini pipe cutter
that I use on small tubes. Can’t remember where I got it.


a hand held sawing jig might b the answer 2 your dilemma. Otto Frei
carries one of these beauties that i am very satisfied w/. my
students think that this tool is top of the pops !

Frei can b reached at

the stock # of the item that i purchased is 126.450


There are several varieties, I prefer (Bergeon no. 6677) the one
with the fold over arm that holds the stock in place while you cut…
You hold the vice in the left hand by a handle and the fold over arm
is held down with the thumb. I use it to cut wire for earring posts
to the same length as well as tubing stock for bezels. You set the
stop to the length you need and you can cut as many pieces as you
want exactly the same length. You use a jewelers saw for the cutting.
Stainless tubing might wear down a few blades but should work. otto
frei # 126.448 I have tried several of the different ones available
and although this one is the most expensive it is also the best I
have used

Frank Goss