How To Cut A Tire In Half To Dispose/Recycle? Best Way & Tool

Robert Herrera-COR-Wheels

By Robert Herrera

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If you’re looking for a fun and creative way to repurpose old auto tires or modify them for off-road use, cutting them might be just what you need. However, cutting through a tire bead can be challenging and requires precision, patience, and the right tools.

You could easily damage the tire or injure yourself without proper knowledge and guidance. In this article, I’ll provide a step-by-step guide on this task, as well as tips on the best tools and techniques to use.

What To Think About Before Cutting Tires Off Rims

Before embarking on any tire-cutting venture, it’s crucial to consider the regulatory, disposal, and safety aspects of the process.


Before cutting tires, it’s important to check the local regulations in your area. Many states have specific tire-cutting and disposal laws, and failure to comply can result in fines or legal consequences.

Some areas require a permit or license to cut tires, while others prohibit it altogether. It’s essential to understand the regulations in your location to ensure you’re not breaking the law and putting yourself at risk.

For Disposal

For Disposal

Once you’ve cut the tires, proper disposal is critical to minimize the environmental impact. But tires cannot be disposed of in regular landfills due to their size and durability in some regions.

According to the EPA, 38 states in the USA prohibit disposing of whole tires in landfills. For example, in Pennsylvania where I’m based, it’s illegal to do so. 

Instead, they need to be recycled or disposed of in specialized facilities. In many cases, tire-cutting businesses offer disposal services, but it’s important to ensure they follow proper environmental standards. 

Alternatively, you can contact local waste management facilities to inquire about tire disposal services or recycling programs.

Note that some tire-disposing methods, such as burning, are not only illegal but also hazardous to the environment and your health. Burning tires releases harmful chemicals into the air, leading to respiratory issues, environmental pollution, and other health risks.

Safety Precautions

Cutting tires can be dangerous, and it’s essential to take proper safety precautions. Wear protective gear such as gloves, eye goggles, and a dust mask to prevent exposure to toxic fumes and particles released during the process.

Besides, use proper tools, such as a hydraulic bead breaker, to avoid injury or damage to the tire. It’s also important to ensure the tire is fully deflated and free of any internal pressure before cutting.

What Is The Best Way To Cut Tires?

Tools For Cutting Up Tires

Here is what you will need to prepare:

  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Marker or chalk
  • Utility knife
  • Jigsaw or angle grinder or any homemade tire cutter
  • Sandpaper or a file

How To Do It

Step 1: Choose the right tire for your project. Make sure it is clean and free of debris or any sharp objects that could damage your tools. Remember to wear your safety goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands.

Step 2: Deflate it completely. This will make it easier to work with and prevent any sudden air pressure release (or even an explosion) during the cutting process, which can be dangerous.

Use a valve stem tool to remove the valve stem from the tire. If your tire has no valve stem, you can use a sharp object like a screwdriver to puncture the tire and release the air.

tighten the valve stem

Step 3: Break the bead, which is the part of the tire that sits against the rim. This will allow you to separate the tire from the rim, making it easier to cut. 

To do so, use a hydraulic bead breaker. Place the tool on the tire’s bead and pump the handle to apply pressure to the tire until it pops off the rim.

Break a bead on tire

Step 4: Mark the tire with a marker or chalk where you want to make the cut. You can make straight or curved cuts depending on your project’s requirements.

Step 5: Make a shallow cut along the mark using a utility knife to create a groove. This groove will guide your jigsaw or angle grinder, ensuring a straight cut.

cut tire along the mark

Step 6: Choose the appropriate tool for the cut you want to make. An angle grinder with a cutting wheel is suitable for thick or heavy-duty tires, while a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade is ideal for more delicate cuts.

cut a tire by saw

Step 7: Follow the groove you created with the utility knife and use the jigsaw or angle grinder to cut through the tire. Take your time and apply gentle pressure to ensure a clean cut.

Step 8: Once you have made the cut, use sandpaper or a file to smooth out any rough edges or burrs.

Step 9: Repeat the process for any additional cuts you need to make. Suppose you’re cutting the tire into strips; cut along the lines you’ve marked to create even stripes of the desired width. 

In case you want to form it into a specific shape, like a circle, cut along the lines to create the desired shape.

Step 10: Dispose of the scraps safely. Tires can be recycled, so check with your local recycling center for proper disposal instructions.


If tire cutting isn’t planned properly, it will take more time than necessary, in addition to the extra work that could have been avoided. 

Here are some of my own personal tips that have been gathered after many failures to help you have an easier cutting process.

  • Start off strong by using a sharp object to pierce a puncture in the sidewall. Use any item that can poke into the tire, such as an ice pick, awl, or any similar tool. If you use a box cutter or knife, you can lessen the force you apply when you strike the tire in this manner.
  • Avoid cutting manually through steel belts directly, as it is a waste of time. Doing this involves too much work unless you’re using a power tool, and even then, your instrument may become damaged, or its blades may become dull. Let a Dremel tool, jigsaw, or circular saw handle the bead and tread cutting.

What To Do With The Old Tires?

what to do with old tires

Old tires can be a nuisance and a potential hazard to the environment if not properly disposed of. Suppose you’re wondering what to do with your old tires; here are some ideas.

Before cutting:

  • Donate: If your old tires are still in good condition, consider donating them to a local charity or nonprofit organization that could use them for their vehicles or projects. 
  • Sell: Suppose your old tires are in good condition and still have plenty of treads; consider selling them to a used tire shop or online marketplace.

After cutting:

  • Recycle: People can recycle tires into a range of products, such as playground surfaces, rubberized asphalt, new tires, and even fuel for cement kilns.
  • Repurpose: Old tires can be repurposed into a range of DIY projects, such as garden planters, swings, and even furniture.
  • Contact your local waste management: Most cities or municipalities have a system in place for tire disposal, and you can contact your local waste management for information on how to dispose of your tires properly.
  • Contact your tire retailer: Tire retailers may offer tire disposal services or can provide information on where to dispose of your old tires safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Remove Tire By Cutting?

Yes, you can remove a tire by cutting it, but it is not the recommended or safest method. Cutting a junk tire to remove it can be dangerous due to the high tension in the steel belts inside the item. The steel belting part can snap and cause injury if not handled carefully.

Can You Pop A Tire With A Knife?

While it is technically feasible to pop a tire with a knife, doing so is neither advised nor secure. Attempting to pop a tire with a knife can be dangerous and can cause serious injury or damage to the blade and other nearby objects.

Why Do They Cut Tires?

Tires are cut for various reasons, including preparing them for retreading, disposing, creating rubber mulch or other products, and modifying them for specific purposes such as off-road use or decorative purposes.

Can A Stanley Knife Cut A Tyre?

Yes, a Stanley knife can cut a tire. Still, it is highly recommended to use proper tire removal tools and techniques, such as a tire iron or a hydraulic bead breaker, to remove it safely and efficiently.

The Bottom Line

Cutting tires can be a fun and rewarding DIY project, but it’s essential to prioritize safety and use the proper cutting tools and techniques. 

Always wear protective gear, including gloves and eye goggles, and follow my step-by-step guide. This will ensure you achieve the desired results without injuring yourself or damaging the tire.

Suppose you’re unsure about any aspect of the tire cutting process or don’t have the necessary tools; it’s best to seek the help of a professional.

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Robert Herrera

President & Automotive Expert at COR Wheels

Robert Herrera has been with COR Wheels for 17 years and has a great passion for the automotive industry. During his time at COR Wheels, he has driven and test-driven a variety of vehicles.

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