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I found out that Hozan lists a pipe cutter among its tools, and as far as I know all Hozan tools are made for bike mechanics. From one of the pictures it looks like this could be used to cut an aluminium steerer tube. Also, by looking at the price on most retailers, it looks like a cheaper solution against the combination saw plus sawing guide.

Is this meant to be actually used for steerer tubes, or something else? Is there any disadvantage in using this for cutting aluminium steerer tubes compared to, say, a Park Tool saw?

picture

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    I’ve only used such a tool to cut copper water pipes and found that it’s very easy to deform the pipe and surprisingly hard to cut through the pipe. Why don’t you use a cheap and simple hack saw?
    – Michael
    Apr 24 at 15:53
  • @Michael This looked cheaper and simpler. Thanks for sharing your experience. Apr 24 at 15:57
  • There are dedicated clamps with a built-in guide that ensure a 90° cut, with the hack-saw.
    – Carel
    Apr 24 at 17:39
  • @Carel are you talking about the sawing guides that I mentioned in my question or something else? Apr 24 at 18:32
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    A properly used pipe cutter will not deform copper or an aluminum pipe. Turning the tool's cut wheel adjuster about 1/2 a turn for every full rotation around the workpiece moves the cutter enough to cut more material without significant deformation of the workpiece. A pipe cutter is arguably the best tool to use on an alloy steer tube (NOT carbon) as the cut will be 90° to the length and burr free on the outer aspect.
    – Jeff
    Apr 24 at 19:36
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A pipe cutter is an excellent tool for this application. Properly used it results in a perfect, burr free cut that is 90° to the longitudinal axis of the steer tube. The outer aspect of the cut remains burr-free by virtue of the rollers smoothing the outer aspect of the workpiece as they pass over. The tool, like any other, should be in good working condition with a nice sharp cutting wheel that is not deformed or dull. The rollers opposite the cut wheel should be smooth and free of foreign material that could scratch the workpiece or cause the tool's cut wheel to not track true. Size matters as well since pipe cutters are rated for different ranges of pipe diameter. Thus, a pipe cutter that includes 1⅛" diameter in it's working range should be selected.

Here is a link to a PDF file outlining the proper use of a pipe cutter. A few things I'll add to this tutorial is that in order for the outside of the cut to remain burr free on completion of the cut, the rollers should follow the leading cutter wheel. It really doesn't matter which way you turn the tool for a proper cut, however. Clockwise rotation with one's right hand aids the biomechanics of having to turn the adjuster clockwise every rotation or two. Keep in mind that it's a process of scoring the metal with consecutive passes of the cut wheel and there shouldn't be excessive clamping force applied to the steer tube by over tightening the cutter's adjusting wheel.

Using a pipe cutter is not recommended for cutting a carbon fiber steer tube. A fine blade hacksaw, a saw guide, and respiratory protection from carbon fiber dust generated by the cutting process are called for in this situation.

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    +1. Early on in wrenching I was told that pipe cutters might seem appealing but have the downside that they can result in the tube being flared in the cut area. In truth I've never really used them for steerers or bars because I haven't wanted to mess with the consequences of the diameter getting flared out. Do you feel that's a non-issue if used right? That might be a good thing to add discussion about if so. Apr 25 at 5:26
  • Neither 100's of copper pipe cuts nor the 3 or 4 steer tubes that I've cut have I seen what appeared as a flared--or slightly larger diameter (to be clear on what's being said)--end after a cut. Though it's not that I couldn't have missed it. I'm more concerned with the roundness, as it pertains to a good install of brass fittings & their valves in underground copper water pipe services from a main into a building. In the distant past, I had trouble sawing anything straight that wasn't wood with a bold pencil mark to guide. Included some stem's and seat tubes (no biggie here 'cept principle)
    – Jeff
    Apr 25 at 8:40
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    So my opportunities to install a new fork requiring a steer tube shortening have been rare, the used fork business being rather vibrant around me. I've suffered many a broken heart seeing a Pike, 32 & 34FLOAT RLC, or Bomber at an unusually reasonable price only to find a sub-6" steer tube mocking me in it's ruinous appearance
    – Jeff
    Apr 25 at 8:55
  • Isn't running rollers around a pipe is a method to widen it in manufacturing? Flaring is a valid concern. Especially when the cutting tool is not sharp large forces are needed. Might need an experiment to find out if it happens for steerers.
    – gschenk
    Apr 26 at 7:40
  • Flaring pipe is normally done from the inside wall, pipe cutters won’t flare a pipe from the outside.
    – Dan K
    Apr 26 at 14:38
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I have tried to cut a steerer tube with a tubing cutter without success. I believe the issue was the machining marks on the steerer. If you ran your fingernail up the tube you could feel small nearly microscopic ridges. These small ridges grab the the cutting wheel and it rides up the ridges so that each rotation moved the cutter. Until my dedicated guide arrived I used two Clamp-Tite collars as a guide. If you had an old stem of the right diameter it might work as a cutting guide also.

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    This is a sure sign that cutter being used is flawed in some way--like the rollers opposite the cut wheel are not rolling smoothly, either from rust or the initial clamping force is too tight and binding the rollers. Improper placement of the pipe in the tool is another cause that will cause the cutter to run away from the desired spot of the cut. Worn or bent axle of the cut wheel is another. A properly used pipe cutter will NOT deform the pipe or score an area of the pipe other than the cut nor leave burrs on the outer aspect of the cut.
    – Jeff
    Apr 24 at 19:49
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    Interesting - were the machining marks spirals or circles?
    – Criggie
    Apr 24 at 23:04
  • they were spirals from being turned on a lathe.
    – mikes
    Apr 24 at 23:18
  • I checked the steerer tube on my fork and I don't see any marks that could act as rail for the cutter. Apr 25 at 14:22
  • Then it may work. I would check the local big box store for a pipecutter it is likely cheaper. They usually have a liberal return policy if this is a one time use or it doesn't work.
    – mikes
    Apr 25 at 17:13
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Yes, you can use this tool for aluminium and steel steerers.

Benefit: you get a very straight cut.

However, it usually leaves a lip that needs filing off to allow the spacers +stem to slide on nicely. This means it's usually no faster than cutting with a hacksaw in a guide then filing the top square.

I find using this tool to start the process then cutting with the saw gives the best result.

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This blog post by Worldwide Cyclery shows a step-by-step process of how to cut a steerer tube and they actually use a pipe cutter instead of a hack saw and a saw guide. The motivation they give is that a pipe cutter will be already available to more people, which was also the motivation for my question.

They recommend filing or using an inner and outer reaming tool to clean up the edge after the cut.

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