Gutters are troughs fixed along the edges of a roof to carry rainwater away from a building or into a barrel for harvesting. But for you to effectively stop water from creating puddles around your house or any other structure, you need to cut the gutters properly. To do this, you need to use the right tool.
The best tool to use to cut gutters is a rotary miter saw because you can accurately cut just about any type of gutter with it. You can also use an angle grinder or hacksaw to cut gutters.
In the rest of the article, I’ll talk about how to use a miter saw to cut gutters. I will also discuss some other tools for cutting these rainwater channels to size and how to use them. Lastly, I’ll discuss the different types of gutters you’ll likely be cutting and the best tool to use with each of them.
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Miter Saw: Best Tool for Cutting Gutters
Since you can use this tool to trim to size just about any type of gutter, let’s show you how to do it. However, before you start cutting your gutters using a miter saw, you will need to have at hand a measuring tape, a carpenter’s pencil, safety gloves, and glasses. After you have gathered all those essential items, here’s how you can cut the gutters:
- Fix the right blade on the saw: This will enable you to easily cut through the trough. Although there are various blades in different sizes that you can use on a miter saw, a 12-inch (30.48 cm) carbide blade works best on all gutter materials. As they are harder than basic steel blades, which makes them impact resistant.
- Determine how long you want the gutter: Lay the gutter flat on the ground and use the measuring tape to establish the right length of your rain pipe. Afterward, mark the place with a pencil. Doing this will enable you to cut the gutter in the right spot and get a perfect-sized trough.
- Place the gutter on the saw table: Ensure that the part you want to cut off is right in front of the miter saw. Also, you should position the gutter in such a way that the marked spot is well lined up. This will allow you to cut precise lines.
- Position the miter saw: Stand behind the saw and make sure that its blade is 1/16 inches outside your marked line so that you can cut the complete length. For troughs that will be installed on a corner, you need to place the saw at a 45-degree angle. Check the manufacturer’s manual for instructions if you do not know how to adjust the saw.
- Put on your safety equipment: Wear your work gloves and safety glasses to shield your eyes from sparks before you start cutting the trough.
- Cut the gutter to Size: Plug the miter saw into the power socket and press its trigger button before firmly holding the gutter in place. Slowly lower the miter saw and cut off the unnecessary part from the gutter at a steady speed. When you are finished, release the trigger and return the saw to the starting position. Follow the same steps for all the additional cuts you need to make.
Other Tools You Can Use to Cut Gutters
Apart from a miter saw, there are other good tools that you can cut gutters with, and these include a grinder and a hacksaw.
This is a handheld machine that you can use to cut metal gutters–aluminum, copper, and steel. Regardless of whether you choose an electric corded gutter or a battery-powered one, you can wield it in the same way.
- Gather all the necessary items: You will need a metal cutting blade, angle grinder, measuring tape, pencil, combination square, safety goggles, and gloves. The latter two articles are very important as they can protect your eyes and hands from damage. Since as you cut the troughs, sparks are bound to fly.
- Prepare your work table: Remove all equipment that will get dirty from your work and put them in a place that you can easily reach when you need them. Doing this will allow you to effectively cut your gutters without worrying about making a mess. Also, move power cables out of the way to prevent them from tripping you while you work.
- Find the right place to cut: Lay a gutter upside down on the table and secure it with a C-clamp before using a measuring tape to determine where to make a cut. Place a combination square along the spot and draw a straight line on the trough with a pencil to mark it. You should also use the square to get 45-degree angles for your edges.
- Cut the trough: Fit the metal cutting blade into the grinder and power it. Place it on the gutter at an angle that will force sparks to fly away from your direction. Now, gently cut through the material at a constant speed and only stop after the cut-off falls to the ground because pausing midway can cause the blade to stick in the gutter.
- Let the trough cool, and smooth it if necessary: Allow the part to cool before touching it by working on other troughs. However, when you are done cutting a steel rain channel, remove the blade and replace it with a flapper disc that you should run along the steel edges to smoothen them.
You can use this fine-toothed tool to cut both metal and plastic even if it was originally made to work on the former material. Here are the steps you should follow:
- Mark off the place you want to make a cut: Before you do this, set down the gutter on a flat surface and use a measuring tape to establish how long you need it to be. Use the carpenter’s pencil to line the spot. This will ensure that you get the exact fit for your roof.
- Prepare the gutter on the table: Clamp the pipe to the work table to prevent it from moving as you saw it so that you don’t end up messing up your work. Correctly hold the hacksaw with one hand on its grip and the other at the far front of the tool.
- Cut the gutter: Saw an inch in the material to create the starting notch that will make it easier for you to cut through the trough. Move the saw back and forth while ensuring that you firmly press down the machine as you move forward.
These are used to cut thin metal and vinyl rain pipes. To start, you need to mark the place where you want to shorten the gutters from. Have two snips — a green and red one at hand to enable you to alternate between their use and quicken the process. Hold a part of the gutter and cut through the line until it is divided into two pieces.
What Type of Gutter Do You Need to Cut?
Now that we’ve covered how to cut gutters using different tools, let’s look at the four most common types of gutters you’ll probably be cutting.
These metal rain gutters are the most popular choice for homeowners because of their cheap and low-maintenance material. You can get them in different colors, matching them to your house’s color scheme.
Additionally, their light weight makes it easy for you to install them. However, even if they are resistant to corrosion, they are weaker than other metal gutters and more likely to dent with time. You can easily cut aluminum gutters with a miter saw or an angle grinder.
Vinyl troughs are the least expensive and easiest to install by yourself because of their light weight. But although they are also rust resistant, their material is the least durable as they can crack when exposed to extreme weather conditions. So if you live in an area with a severe climate, you should install steel gutters. You can easily cut vinyl gutters using tin snips or a hacksaw.
These are stronger, more durable, and more expensive than the above-mentioned troughs. Nevertheless, you cannot opt for a DIY installation because they are heavy, and also, they are prone to rust. To prevent them from rusting, they should be galvanized and regularly cleaned to remove the leaves that can cause corrosion. Steel gutters are best cut with an angle grinder or a miter saw.
They are quite beautiful and add appeal to your home. Moreover, they are extremely durable, making them able to work in all conditions. That said, this material is the most expensive and hardest to install. This is why few people use them and those who do, have to use professionals to fix them because they are very heavy. Copper gutters are best cut with an angle grinder or miter saw.
The Bottom Line
When you use the right tool to cut gutters, you can easily carry out this task without needing the help of your plumber. With the trough cut to the perfect size, it will take rainwater away from your building to a designated place.
Miter saws can cut all four of the types of gutters mentioned in this article. However, you can also use an angle grinder, hacksaw, or tin snips to cut certain types of gutters.