Electrical conduits protect and route electrical wiring. They can be made of many materials including metal, plastic, fiber, or fired clay. Flexible and rigid conduits are available. The type of conduit used is determined by wiring regulations set by national and local codes. When working with conduits, there are a few methods you can use to cut them to the size needed. Although flexible conduit is easier to work with than a rigid conduit, it offers less protection for the conductors it carries. Bending a rigid conduit can be an arduous task so it is often simpler to opt for the flexible variety. Metal conduits have an advantage over PVC conduits because they can also serve as the grounding path. However, some local codes may require that you also run a green grounding wire.
Follow these steps to cut a flexible metal conduit properly for the safest installation.
Step 1 - Measure Distance
Using a tape measure, measure the distance between the two points where the conduit will be routed. Account for the bends in the conduit. Remember to allow some at each end so it can be securely fastened in the box.
Step 2 - Place Conduit in Vice
If your vice has a slot in the center, align your cut mark on the conduit with the slot. If your vice does not have a slot, you can use a standard vice easily enough. Place the conduit so that the cut mark is off the end. This way you can easily cut it without any movement of the conduit.
Step 3 - Cut the Conduit
You can cut the conduit with a fine blade hacksaw. This is the preferable method, although it sounds basic. Always cut straight across. It may appear that you have a straight and even cut but it is a good idea to smooth out the cut before use.
Or you can take a different approach and use a specialized cutting tool. Most of these, however, tend to leave the end of the conduit at a sharp angle and cut through the next full convolution. Before the cut end of the conduit is attached to the box or to a connector, this angle will have to be smoothed out.
Step 4 - Smooth Out the Edge
Use a small file and diagonal pliers to fix any defects, including an angled edge, on the cut end. You may also need to use a hacksaw to cut off any small bits that are left. You need to have the best possible edge for the most effective fitting, especially if used as grounding.
Step 5 - Clean Up
Clean up your work area thoroughly and safely.