Anyone ever cut a slot in schedule 40 PVC pipe? - Router Forums
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post #1 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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Default Anyone ever cut a slot in schedule 40 PVC pipe?

I have a piece of 1-1/2 inch PVC pipe that I need to cut a pair of matching parallel slots about 10 to 11 inches long and 1/2 inch wide in. One 1/2 inch channel per side on opposite sides. I'm wondering if there is a safe way to do this on the router table.

What I'm doing is building a rudder for a small plastic boat using the pipe as the shaft and a plastic cutting board as the rudder itself. Totally waterproof. The board is 1/2 inch thick. I want to "split" one end of the pipe lengthwise about 10 or 11 inches and insert the board between the two halves, and then bolt it in place with predrilled holes drilled in the pipe prior to making the cut.

I have had several ideas for making the cut. All involve clamping the pipe into a jig to prevent it from rotating or moving, drill a 1/2 inch hole all the way through the pipe at the end of the proposed slot location, and then push the pipe through:
(a.) the tablesaw four times, cut once, flip and cut again, then move fence 1/2 inch and repeat.
(b.) the router table using a 1/2 inch bit, cut once, flip and cut again, or (and this scares me to death) use a 1/2 inch bit tall enough to span the pipe and cut both slots at once (this one I think I'll skip).
(c.) the bandsaw, use a fence and cut once, move fence 1/2 inch and cut again. The trouble is I have seen my blade drift in straight cuts and haven't yet worked this out. I know I should but just haven't yet. I'd rather go fishing 😁 but I need a boat rudder first. 😂
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post #2 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 07:04 PM
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router table and spiral bit...
plunge and then cut..
make sure the pipe is trapped between the fence and a parallel guide board..
be sure to use hold down feather boards..

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post #3 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 07:54 PM
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I would use the band saw - you're only making a cut less than a foot so how much drift can you have - go slow. No need to move the fence after the first cut. Make the cut, then rotate the piece and make the second cut with the other side against the fence.
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post #4 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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Is it not safe to simply enter at the end of the pipe with a straight bit, even just doing one side at a time? I only have a 1/4 inch spiral. Didn't really want to have to buy anything else to get the job done.
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post #5 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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The band saw feels like the safest way. I will try some scrap first and see how it works.

PVC is something I'd like to work with more often. I have cut it for years using a miter saw, and saw videos of it being kerfed on a table saw but also heard warnings of it exploding while doing so. I thought I'd ask some questions before just diving in. The lack of lots of videos and info on using routers and table saws with the stuff has me thinking it's not done much. I did use the router table to round over the edges on the ends of some pipe to make rod racks, and it worked well but that's not the same as cutting a groove.
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post #6 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 10:35 PM
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Blades or bits with a hook angle can grab the plastic and it can explode when it happens. There are bits for cutting plastic and they have what the makers describe as "O" flutes. I would also think that a fiberglass bit should work like this one but I haven't tried it on plastic: https://www.amazon.com/Amana-Tool-Fi...gateway&sr=8-1 While I was looking for that link I saw this one about spirals: https://www.amazon.com/Amana-Carbide...gateway&sr=8-4 If you use the bandsaw use the finest blade you have with teeth that have the least hook angle.

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post #7 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 12:12 AM
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If you switch to schedule 80, it will be thicker and stronger. I'd prefer using a band saw. If you use a router with a spiral bit, Be sure to mark the centerline on both sides so you can make certain your cuts are on opposite sides, not offset. I'd rout extra long slots but not all the way to the end, then I'd go back and cut the end off.

I would also consider doing this with a Japanese saw. You'd need a jig to hold it and prevent rotation.

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post #8 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 12:43 AM
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Hot glue the pipe to a piece of scrap wood. Full length glue both sides.
Cut on the bandsaw with a fine toothed blade, slice the hot glue off with a knife or wallpaper scraper.
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post #9 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 06:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherryville Chuck View Post
Blades or bits with a hook angle can grab the plastic and it can explode when it happens. There are bits for cutting plastic and they have what the makers describe as "O" flutes.

An "O" flute bit will grab just as much as regular bit.
The main difference is the flutes have more clearance to clear the chips and minimize the chances of the plastic melting.

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post #10 of 49 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 06:18 AM
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Build a box, that holds the pipe so that it can't move. The top of the box will have the slot cut in it, and be your template. Use a guide bushing, or top bearing bit, and make 2 or 3 light passes. This is by far the safest and easiest way to do it.

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