You can use a reciprocating saw equipped with a metal cutting blade to cut a gutter downspout. Just make sure to carefully mark the downspout where you want to cut it and ensure the downspout is secure enough that it won’t move violently during cutting. If you are cutting a downspout that is currently attached to the gutter system on your house, place a board between the downspout and your home to prevent accidentally cutting your house with the saw. Carefully cut each side of the downspout until it is cut where desired.
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How to Cut a Downspout with a Reciprocating Saw in 4 Steps
A reciprocating saw blade designed for cutting metal will make short work of a downspout. The steps below are for using a reciprocating saw to cut a downspout during installation or cutting an old downspout off your existing gutter system. Remember to always wear gloves as well as eye and ear protection when using power tools.
Mark the Downspout
Begin by clearly marking the downspout where you wish to cut it. A black marker is the best tool for the job. It will make a clear mark on a metal or vinyl downspout. Make sure you mark all the way around the downspout, especially if you are cutting a new piece of downspout to length. A mark that travels all the way around the diameter of the downspout helps guide an even cut.
Secure the Downspout
Downspouts are light and a reciprocating saw is a powerful tool. An unsecured downspout is prone to rattling, shaking, and moving while you cut it. To prevent this, secure the downspout in place. If you are cutting a new downspout to length, lay it across a pair of sawhorses. Then, secure the downspout to the sawhorses with bungee cords. If you are cutting a downspout that is attached to your house, ask an assistant to hold the lower portion of the downspout in place as you cut it at a higher point.
Protect Nearby Objects
If you are cutting a downspout that is attached to your house, place a board or piece of plywood between the downspout and your home at the place where the cut will be made. This way, if you cut through the downspout quickly the blade will contact the board but won’t damage your home.
Cut Through One Side at a Time
Work slowly with the reciprocating saw. If you are cutting a new piece of downspout, cut through one side at a time. Then, rotate the downspout 90 degrees and cut through the next side. This will result in a clean cut. If you are cutting an existing downspout off your home, work slowly through the downspout, cutting away from yourself to avoid any mishaps.
The 5 Best Tools to Cut a Downspout
While the reciprocating saw is a very versatile tool that is great for cutting lengths of aluminum downspouts, it is powerful and not always as precise as you might like. Below are our picks for tools to cut vinyl and aluminum downspouts, ranked from best to worst.
A miter saw or chop saw will make a quick, clean, precise cut through an aluminum downspout. If you are installing a new downspout, equip your power miter with a carbide blade. Mark your downspout and use the miter saw to make a perfect cut. This tool is great when installing or repairing aluminum gutters and downspouts.
A Dremel equipped with a metal cutoff blade is another great way to cut through an aluminum downspout. Like a reciprocating saw, you’ll need to mark every side of the downspout and work slowly, cutting through each side one-by-one. However, a Dremel is very precise and leaves a clean cut. This makes the downspout easy to crimp and install without the risk of cutting yourself on jagged metal.
A jigsaw fitted with a metal cutting blade is great for cutting a downspout. Follow the same system you would use for a reciprocating saw when using this tool. Because it is less powerful than a reciprocating saw the job will go a little slower but will be more precise. Since you have to guide the jigsaw by hand it’s a bit more work than the miter saw, but superior to a reciprocating saw in our opinion.
The reciprocating saw or “Sawzall” comes in 4th on our list. It’s probably the best tool for cutting downspouts and gutters free during demolition, but it’s not very precise. If you are installing a new downspout, it’s best to opt for one of the previous tools on this list. However, your reciprocating saw can help you get an installation job done in a pinch.
While a hacksaw is a relatively precise way to cut through a downspout, it’s slow and takes a lot more manual effort than the previous entries on the list. For small home projects, a hacksaw will cut through a downspout in just a few minutes, but it’s not nearly as efficient as a power tool.
3 Methods to Avoid When Cutting a Downspout
Cutting through a downspout can turn into a messy job with the wrong tool. If you’re installing a new gutter system, the following tools can destroy your downspout during cutting, creating waste and frustration.
Although some old-school gutter installers use tin snips to cut downspouts, it’s not the best tool for the job. You have to puncture the downspout, leaving a sizable hole, then cut around the downspout. The result is usually a messy, jagged cut that isn’t very precise.
A circular saw is simply too heavy-duty for cutting downspouts. Although there are methods such as installing blades backward that can make cutting a downspout with a circular saw possible, it’s typically not worth the effort. Too often, a circular saw will crush the spout more than cut it, leaving a ragged end.
Hand Saw and Utility Knife
Do not resort to a hand saw, box cutter, or another tool that is not designed to cut metal when trimming a downspout. These will create a mess, get the job done slowly, and you may damage the blade of your tool. Pick a tool with a metal-cutting blade if you need to trim a downspout.
Can You Use a Reciprocating Saw to Cut Through a Downspout?
A reciprocating saw can be used to cut through a gutter downspout. This applies whether you are trimming a new downspout or removing an old one. Just follow these steps:
- Equip your reciprocating saw with a metal-cutting blade.
- Mark the downspout where you wish to cut it.
- Secure the downspout to prevent it from shaking during cutting.
- Put a board between the downspout and your house if you are removing a hanging downspout.
- Cut through the downspout slowly, following your marked line.
Although a reciprocating saw works well as a downspout cutter, if you are installing a new downspout, consider using a miter saw, Dremel, or jigsaw. These tools are more precise and make cleaner cuts.