Tom’s Oil Filter Cutting Tool Instructions

Thank you for using our Tom’s Oil Filter Cutting tool. This tool is designed to open oil filter cans much more easily and efficiently than traditional tube-cutter-style tools, but note that proper use will require understanding how the tool works, and we strongly recommend you read the instructions before use. If you’d like to see the tool in action, you can view a video demonstration here.

A quick note on oil filters

The tool, as supplied, is set up for oil filters that have a threaded male stud sticking out of the base of the filter, which are typical in most Lycoming engines. Some Lycoming and almost all Continental engine filters lack this insert and you will need to make use of the large center bolt adapters supplied with your cutter (simply thread the adapter through the hole in the tool and into the female threads on the filter).

To use the tool on smaller filters, such as those used by Rotax engines, remove the cutter handle and reposition the pivot bolt to the inner hole on the base handle. The center bolt adapter may have to be used on these filters as well.

To begin, clamp your oil filter in a vise with the open side up. You can clamp on the hex nut on the bottom of the filter or onto the body of the filter itself.

Orient the cutter tool with the cutter wheels facing downward, open the handles, and place the tool onto the filter as shown, with the threaded stud through the large hole in the tool. If your filter does not have the male threaded stud, use the included bolt adapter by threading the adapter through the hole in the tool and into the filter.

Apply gentle pressure to squeeze the tool handles inward and rotate the tool in a short arc around the pivot point, allowing the cutter wheel to roll over the surface of the can in about one inch of travel. Make this short pass back and forth a few times. You’re not trying to force the cutting wheel to punch through the can; you want to form the metal into a groove until it splits. After a few passes back and forth, the cutter wheel should break through the can.

Once the initial hole is formed, carefully pull the cutter handle around the filter to continue the cut until only a half-inch or so of the side wall remains, and tip the tool and top of the filter up to allow access to the filter element.

Remove the inner filter element and allow it to drain. Put down a plastic sheet or trash bag on your work bench to keep the mess under control.

With a pair of side cutters or pliers, pull or pry out the metal strip. Then use a sharp knife to the filter media at both ends, cutting all the way to the metal core. Pry off the metal top of the filter and remove the paper element from the core. Cut the paper media vertically where the metal strip was, and spread the media out flat on your work bench.

Pull the pleats apart and inspect for contamination, metal particles, or other debris. Keep a record of your observations so that trends may be determined.

You will likely find some contaminants, including carbon chunks and small flecks of various metals. Have your mechanic or Lycoming representative help you determine if the amounts are normal and safe. Excessive amounts may require maintenance actions to be taken.