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Flexible metal conduit can be challenging to cut safely if you aren’t familiar with the right way to do it. It’s pretty simple once you know how to do it, though! You will be a master in no time.
When you’re running conduit outside for electrical wiring, you’ll need to protect it with a covering like conduit. Check out this comprehensive guide to learn how to cut flexible metal conduit.
Gather Your Tools
First things first, you need to gather the appropriate tools for the task. It’s so much easier to get something done when you are properly prepared. If you do much work, you probably already have the tools on hand but let’s take a look at the list of tools just to be sure.
- Hacksaw for the primary cutting steps of the task
- Bandsaw this is optional but you may want to consider a bandsaw if you will be cutting a lot of conduit
- Vise/Jig: If you’re using a hacksaw, you will need a vise or a jig to hold the conduit steady while you cut.
- Tape Measure to be able to get the exact measurement and lengths that you need
- Marker to be able to mark your cutting locations on the conduit
- Metal File for shaping up or filing any rough edges or pieces
- Work Gloves to properly protect your hands since you will be working with tools and exposed wires
Once you gather your items, it’s time to move on to preparing for the job and start cutting. You will find that these steps are very easy.
Here is a quick overview of the steps we are going to cover.
- Take Measurements: Before you start cutting anything, you need to measure for the cut
- Conduit Preparation: Once you measure, you will need to mark the conduit and be sure to handle it correctly to avoid improper marking.
- Jig or Vise: You will need a strong and steady grip on the conduit while you are cutting, and a jig or vise will help you do this. If you are using a bandsaw, this won’t be necessary but it is with a hacksaw.
- Make the Cut: Time to officially cut the conduit
- Refine the Cut: Once you’ve made the cut, we will clean up the edge.
Now, let’s walk through each of these steps in turn.
How to Cut Flexible Metal Conduit Properly
Now, let’s get started preparing to cut your conduit. First, we need to take measurements. You simply can’t accurately cut conduit for what you need without taking measurements to do so. Measuring is very important and how you handle the conduit while you measure is also important as well.
The challenge to measuring is that the location for your conduit might not be a straight line. You have to consider that you will have bends and curves in the conduit when you place it. Take a look at the path of the conduit you are cutting as you will need to plan for those bends and curves.
Follow these simple steps to measure your conduit.
- Measure the box: First measure your box. The wiring box from end to end and width might help you in the end.
- Measure the wire: Now, you will measure the wire. Start at one end and work your way to the other end.
- Measure Curves/Bends: Measure your curves and bends separately from the straight pieces. You may need to write measurements down or even draw a diagram as you go to keep your numbers and totals straight.
- Add Up Measurements: Once you’ve gathered your measurements from end to end, including the curves, add up all of the measurements. This total will be the total length of conduit that you need to cut.
There is no need to cut multiple individual pieces of conduit for the curves and parts. Flexible metal conduit will bend and twist for you so that you can maneuver it around curves and bends in the wires that it will be covering.
If you measure properly and then cut properly, the conduit will bend to your needs and properly cover from one end to the other.
Learn how to drill through metal for your project.
Now that you’ve measured your length, it’s time to prepare the conduit for cutting purposes. This step is pretty simple but there are some minor tricks to know.
Use the tape measure that you have on hand from measuring the wires and measure to the appropriate point on your conduit.
The most important thing to remember is that you should not pull or stretch your conduit while you are measuring it for marking. You want to leave it in its natural form or else your measurements will be off. What happens is if you extend it to measure it, it will shrink back to the normal length and your cut won’t be long enough.
Measure the length needed and then mark the conduit so you know where you need to cut it.
Brush up on all the different ways to cut metal for your next project.
Jig or Vise (If Needed)
Remember that you only need to use a jig or vise if you are cutting the conduit with a hacksaw. If you are using a bandsaw, you can skip this step.
If you are using a hacksaw, you first need to place the conduit into either a jig or a vise. This will help to hold it steady while you cut. There are jigs that are specifically designed for conduit. If you have one of those or want to purchase one of those, these are ideal.
However, you can just use a vise if you need to and it will work just fine. No need to spend the money unless you plan to use it quite a bit. We recommend a bench vise as an alternative.
Set up your conduit in the vise or jig to hold it secure. Be very careful not to over tighten the vise as you don’t want to damage your conduit. It needs to be securely held but should never be really tight. If you damage the conduit, it probably will not work well for you when it comes time to place it on your wires.
Cutting Flexible Conduit with a Bandsaw
You’ve done all of your prep work and measurements and it’s time to make your cut. If you are sure that you have measured and marked properly, cutting will be quick and simple. Here are some steps to follow in order to cut the piece.
This first set of instructions walks you through cutting with a bandsaw.
- Pick the right blade: Make sure you select a metal bandsaw blade.
- Power Up: Power up your saw
- Bend Conduit: Bend the conduit and slowly feed it through the saw. The blade will do the work as you move.
- Rotate: As you move the conduit, rotate the conduit about 90 degrees up and down. Continue this motion until the saw has cut through the conduit all of the way.
Using a bandsaw to cut metal conduit is a safe and efficient way to get the job done well.
Cutting Flexible Conduit with a Hacksaw
If you don’t have a bandsaw or you maybe are out somewhere and only have a hacksaw at your disposal, cutting with a hacksaw is also simple and yet effective. The key to effectively cutting with a hacksaw is making sure your blade is nice and sharp.
This set of instructions focuses on cutting conduit with a hacksaw.
- Load to Vise: We already covered how to do this step above. Don’t skip it now.
- Check Blade: Be sure your blade is sharp and that you have a high TPI for the best cut.
- Make the Cut: Using your hacksaw, cut directly along the mark that you made for measurements on the conduit. Try to cut as steadily and evenly as possible as you go until you cut through the conduit completely.
Refining the Cut
Now, you can refine your cut by cleaning up the edges, and then you can place the conduit. If the edge is sharp or burred, it makes placing the conduit very challenging. This is why we smooth out the edges first.
- Grab that metal file we recommended you have on hand. Use the metal file to make a few passes along the edges.
- Work out any rough or sharp points to make the edge as smooth as possible. It doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect but you don’t want it to be sharp or jagged when you are working to place the conduit.
- Once you’ve cleaned up the edge, it’s time for you to place your conduit. If you’ve followed the steps accordingly, placing the conduit should be simple.
Don’t forget to wear your work gloves and move carefully with the exposed wires.
Cutting flexible metal conduit is really pretty simple. The detailed steps that we have shared here won’t take you very long to complete as a whole. The most challenging part will probably be measuring properly to take into account the curves and bends of the wire.
If you follow these steps, cutting will be a breeze and you can probably have your cut made from start to finish in less than 30 minutes. Accuracy and precision are important so don’t forget the little tricks to avoid mistakes.