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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, pier bumpers on a boat dock, swings, and so much more. But cutting them apart is another story.

Tires contain a mesh of steel belting, which makes cutting them a challenge but not impossible. We’ve created this handy guide to show you the best ways to cut tires and which tools to use.

A Quick Rundown of Our Favorite Methods

Image Product Details
Our Preferred Method
Winner
Milwaukee 50-Piece Hook Utility Knife Blades Milwaukee 50-Piece Hook Utility Knife Blades
  • Economical
  • Hook great for grabbing tire wall
  • Great sharpness and plenty of replacements
  • Second place
    SKILSAW 13 Amp Reciprocating Saw SKILSAW 13 Amp Reciprocating Saw
  • For heavy-duty jobs
  • Can be used for both sidewalls and tread
  • Carbide blades strong enough to stand up to steel belting
  • Third place
    SKIL 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw SKIL 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw
  • Easy to use
  • Single beam laser guide
  • Comes with a perfect blade
  • MulWark Heavy Duty Retractable Knife MulWark Heavy Duty Retractable Knife
  • No fumes
  • Retractable
  • Snap-off blades for quick change
  • 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.

    Milwaukee 48-22-1952 50-Piece Hook Utility Knife Blades

    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 a Concrete Dust Respirator Kit ) 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

    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 inch stroke length provides maximum cutting speed

    Freud DS0909CGP3 Diablo 9″ Carbide Tipped General Purpose Reciprocating Blade

    Freud DS0909CGP3 Diablo 9" Carbide General Purpose...
    • 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.

    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...
    • Powerful 15-amp motor delivers 5,300-RPM for greater speed and faster cuts
    • 7-1/4-inch carbide-tipped blade included. Spindle lock for easy blade changes.
    • 51 degree 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.

    MulWark Heavy Duty Zinc-Alloy SK4 Snap-Off Easy Loading Retractable Razor Utility Knife

    MulWark Heavy Duty Zinc-Alloy SK4 Snap-Off Easy...
    • ▲ SUPREME CUTTING PERFORMANCE - The 15pcs self-loading quick change 18mm rust resistant...
    • ▲ CONVENIENT BLADE CARTRIDGE - Unlike folding knifes, this self loaded large snap construction...
    • ▲ 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

    Safety Precautions

    Certain power tools that do an incredible job at dissecting tires, but keep in mind that tools create fumes and tires also emit fumes that are not healthy. You should protect yourself from inhaling dangerous fumes but also your eyes and hands, so make sure to wear a respirator, goggles and gloves to protect your hands from sharp tire bits.

    How to Cut Tires

    1. Use a workshop or an open space

    You need to practice safety at all times, so it’s best that you have plenty of space around you to avoid worrying about hurting somebody close to you. Since you’re going to be using a power tool (easiest method), pieces can fly around and end up striking somebody in the face or eyes. Other people can trip over extension cords, so avoid a lot of hassle and choose a safe space. The other reason a workshop is useful is for the cleanup afterward. After you’re done, sweep up the unused pieces and dispose of in a dustbin.

    2. Use a metal-safe blade

    After you’ve placed the tire flat on a table or the ground, you need to fit a metal-safe blade into a power saw. As mentioned, most big tires have steel belts, so you’re going to need a blade that’s strong enough to penetrate metal. If you’re using Dremel tools, fit a metal grinding blade. Otherwise, you can use a ferrous-metal blade for circular or jigsaws. The other option is carbide-toothed saw blades.

    3. The first cut should be widthwise

    While your tire is flat on a surface, you can press the cutting edge across the sidewall or into tire’s surface. Then, you need to move the blade from the inner to the outer edge. Don’t be surprised to discover that the steel belts put up a fight but push harder. A strong blade shouldn’t have an issue with cutting the steel belt.

    4. Cut from the other side

    Once you’ve done all the cuts you want on the one side, flip the tire over and use the end of the cut from the first side to extend the cut on the second side. Cut the tire in half. That’s going to help you cut other pieces faster and more effectively because you’re not trying to cut through both sides at once.

    5. Continue the other cuts

    Use the two halves to cut smaller pieces. Cut through the center on both sides of the pieces and continue this process until you’ve got as many pieces that you want. Just remember that small pieces are more likely to shift and slide than bigger pieces, so you need to be more careful.

    6. Cut through the tread

    You’ll have to cut the tire from three different sides, so the best way to do that is to use an adjustable clamp. The first two cuts were from both sides, and the third cut will be through the thread. Use an adjustable clamp to pin the tire flat on a table so that the thread is facing up. The final cut will be through the thread, so you will cut right across it while the tire is placed horizontally. That’s when the three cuts will meet, making the rubber come apart with ease.

    Conclusion

    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.

    SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw has a 15-amp motor that delivers 5,3000 rpm. You’ll need that to get through the steel belt with ease. The other great feature of this circular saw is the 51-degree bevel capacity, allowing you a variety of cuts so that you can approach the tire from different angles. The SKILSAW SPT44A-00 13 Amp Reciprocating Saw has a variable speed trigger so that you can increase the pressure when you encounter steel belts. The powerful 13-amp motor produces controlled cuts through tough materials, and Skilsaw has designed the saw to direct debris and dust away from the user.

    Don’t forget about protecting your lungs and eyes from toxic rubber fumes and cut in a well-ventilated area.

    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!

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