Best Way to Cut Tires – Which Tool to Use? – Reviews & Top Picks

an efficient tool for cutting tires

You can use recycled tires as landscape borders, recycle them into soft fall for playgrounds, use them on a boat dock, make swings, or whatever else floats your boat. But cutting them apart is another story. Tires contain a mesh of steel belting, which makes cutting them completely apart a challenge. But don’t worry, it’s not impossible. We’ve created this handy guide to show you how best to cut tires and which tools to use to get the job done in the most efficient way. Before you get started, though, we’re going to give you some grandfatherly advice: power tools create fumes, and surprise, surprise, tire fumes are not healthy to breathe. If you need to slice a tire completely apart, wear a respirator to protect your lungs, and wear goggles to protect your eyes from sparks and molten rubber. Gloves are a good idea, too. Now you can’t say we didn’t warn you. Read on to learn more about the best way to cut tires.

A Quick Rundown of our Favorite Methods

RankModelOur Favorite Product
#1A Utility Knife with Hook Blade
Milwaukee 48-22-1952 50-Piece Hook Utility Knife Blades(Our Preferred Method)
Milwaukee 48-22-1952 50-Piece Hook Utility Knife Blades

Check Price
#2A Reciprocating Saw with Carbide Blade
SKILSAW SPT44A-00 13 Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Tech
SKILSAW SPT44A-00 13 Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Tech

Check Price
#3A Circular Saw with Carbide Blade
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide

Check Price
#4A Standard Utility Knife
MulWark Heavy Duty Zinc-Alloy SK4 Snap-Off Easy Loading Retractable Razor Utility Knife
MulWark Heavy Duty Zinc-Alloy SK4 Snap-Off Easy Loading Retractable Razor Utility Knife

Check Price

The 4 Best Tools for Cutting Tires

1. A Utility Knife with Hook Blade – Our Preferred Method

We’re starting simple here since you’re most likely wanting to cut out the most reusable part of the tire: the sidewall. Even if you need to cut the steel belted part in half, you’re better off cutting out the sidewall first to make it easier to pass through the rest. A hook blade is both simple and economical. You’ll only need to puncture the tire just below the tread and drag the tool in a circle around the side of the tire. You can complete this in seconds, though on the downside it will require some muscle. If you have a lot of tires to cut, this can be exhausting. But luckily for you, we’ve recommended the perfect hook blades below to install in your utility knife and get you started.

We recommend the Milwaukee 48-22-1952 50-Piece Hook Utility Knife Blades:

Milwaukee 48-22-1952 50-Piece Hook Utility Knife...
20 Customer Reviews
Milwaukee 48-22-1952 50-Piece Hook Utility Knife...
  • 50 Pc Hook Utility Knife Blades
  • The product is easy to use and easy to handle
  • The product is highly durable
Pros
  • Hook great for grabbing tire wall
  • Great sharpness and plenty of replacements
  • Economical
Cons
  • Not feasible for cutting steel belting
  • Requires a lot manual effort

2. Reciprocating Saw with Carbide Blade

If you need to cut through the whole tire, a reciprocating saw will meet your needs. They’re fast, efficient, and a good carbide blade can zip right through that tough steel mesh. If you have a big project or a lot of tires to cut, you’ll probably want to purchase extra replacement blades, as steel belting can dull them quickly. Remember to protect yourself if you’re going to use a power tool on a tire. Wear a respirator to protect yourself from fumes (we recommend the Gerson Silica & Concrete Dust Respirator Kit with Pancake Filters – Signature Pro Series) and goggles to keep your eyes guarded from shrapnel. Lay the tire flat before cutting and work your way slowly through the tire. For best results, dispense with the sidewall first with a hook blade, then pass the reciprocating saw through the tread. This is more efficient and requires less effort. Below is our pick for a great reciprocating saw, and some carbide blades to go with it.

SKILSAW SPT44A-00 13 Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Tech:

Sale
SKILSAW SPT44A-00 13 Amp Reciprocating Saw with...
37 Customer Reviews
SKILSAW SPT44A-00 13 Amp Reciprocating Saw with...
  • Patented buzzkill technology delivers best in Class in-line vibration suppression
  • Variable speed trigger Controls tool speed for cutting specialized materials
  • 1-1/8 in. Stroke length provides maximum cutting speed

Freud DS0909CGP3 Diablo 9″ Carbide Tipped General Purpose Reciprocating Blade:

Sale
Freud DS0909CGP3 Diablo 9' Carbide Tipped General...
4 Customer Reviews
Freud DS0909CGP3 Diablo 9" Carbide Tipped General...
  • Carbide tooth design for up to 50X cutting life in wood and metal applications
  • Patented variable tooth technology provides faster cuts with less vibration
  • Unique plunge tip design that enables faster and easier plunging in wood
Pros
  • 13 Amps of power for heavy duty jobs
  • Carbide blades strong enough to stand up to steel belting
  • Can be used for both sidewalls and tread
Cons
  • Power tools will create toxic rubber fumes
  • Less economical than manual tools

3. Circular Saw with Carbide Blade

If you need to make straight-forward cuts across your tire, a circular saw can do the trick. You won’t get the same amount of control and dexterity as you will from a reciprocating saw, but if you need to cut the tire in half perpendicularly, it’s another fine solution. You will want carbide blades with this, as well, as they’ll stand up to the steel belting better. Don’t forget about respiratory and eye protection and remember to cut slowly and away from your body for safety. We’ve chosen a great circular saw below that will help you wrangle those steel belts.

We recommend the SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide:

Sale
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with...
565 Customer Reviews
SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with...
  • Powerful 14-amp motor delivers 5,300-RPM for greater speed and faster cuts
  • 7-1/4-in carbide-tipped blade included. Spindle lock for easy blade changes.
  • 51° bevel capacity for a wide variety of cuts. Arbor size: 5/8 inches, cord length: 6 feet
Pros
  • Lightweight and easy-to-use
  • Comes with a perfect blade (and is easily interchangeable)
  • Good price point
  • Single beam laser guide
Cons
  • Power tools will create toxic rubber fumes
  • Depth adjuster can be tricky to lock in place

4. Standard Utility Knife

If you have a standard utility knife laying around and don’t want to fork over extra money for the hook blade, you can still use the regular blade to slice through the sidewall. You’ll need to apply extra effort, as you won’t get the same “grab” as you will with a hook blade, and you’ll still need a power tool to get through the steel belting. You’ll also want to have replacement blades handy, as the rubber will dull your blades quickly. But if you want a quick and cheap option, this will still work. We’ve listed our favorite utility knife below if you’re in the market.

We recommend the MulWark Heavy Duty Zinc-Alloy SK4 Snap-Off Easy Loading Retractable Razor Utility Knife:

Sale
MulWark Heavy Duty Zinc-Alloy SK4 Snap-Off Easy...
104 Customer Reviews
MulWark Heavy Duty Zinc-Alloy SK4 Snap-Off Easy...
  • SUPREME CUTTING PERFORMANCE - The 15pcs self-loading quick change 18mm rust resistant retractable...
  • CONVENIENT BLADE CARTRIDGE - Unlike folding knifes, this self loaded large snap construction knife...
  • QUICK BLADE CHANGING - Push the slider up to the end and backwards to its original position, you...
Pros
  • Snap-off blades for quick change
  • Heavy duty
  • Retractable
  • No fumes
Cons
  • Blades can dull quickly on rubber
  • Won’t cut through steel belting

Buyer’s Guide

It all boils down to how much of your tire you want to cut. To slice completely through, you’ll want a power tool with a carbide blade to tackle the steel belts. If you just want to get the most recyclable rubber out of the sidewalls, a manual tool works perfectly fine. Consider our top pick, the Milwaukee 50-Piece Hook Utility Knife Blades for the best efficiency. Keep in mind these are only blades, though. You’ll want a sturdy handle with a good grip, too, such as the Milwaukee Fastback 3 Utility Knife. Then you can switch out the straight blade for the hooked blade. Don’t forget about protecting your lungs and eyes from toxic rubber fumes and cut in a well-ventilated area.

Conclusion

Whatever you choose, we hope this guide and our reviews have helped you narrow down the options for cutting tires efficiently and cleanly. Decide how you want to use your tire parts first, then you can take the dive into purchasing a product. If you already own one of the above tools, it’s probably worth giving it a try before you plunk down your hard-earned cash on a new tool. Any of the above methods work, despite the order of preference we’ve suggested. Good luck cutting those tires!

Other tools we’ve reviewed:

-> Which tool works best for cutting circles in wood?

-> What’s the most efficient way of cutting aluminum? We put it to the test!