How to Cut Tractor Tires

by Tom King
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Tire Swing image by Luke Haverkamp from

Tractor tires make interesting landscape features, planters, mini-greenhouses, sandboxes and physical barriers. Because tires are heavily reinforced with steel wire and bands inside the rubber, trimming them down for these uses can be difficult without the proper tools. Proper safety is particularly important when cutting heavy tractor tires.

Step 1

Mark the places on the tire where you will make your cuts with white tire chalk.

Step 2

Cut with the utility knife and heavy sharp knife starting at the sidewalls. The sidewalls have no metal reinforcement, only heavy reinforcing nylon or composite cords, so they can be cut with a knife or heavy utility knife. Work the tip of the knife into the cut along the sidewalls. Skip over the "bead" or lip on the inside of the tire where the tire sits in the wheel rim. There is a heavy steel wire buried in the bead that you won't be able to cut through with a knife.

Step 3

Cut around the inside of the tire between the bead and the sidewall with the heavy duty grinder disk or the reciprocating saw. Work slowly in case the blade catches on the sharp metal band inside the bead. Cut the bead out like a big hoop and separate it from the sidewall. Using the grinder or the reciprocating saw ensures you don't damage a knife or pull loose a strip of sharp steel that can cut your hands.

Step 4

Cut across the tread with the grinder to cut a "V" groove in the rubber down to the first layers of metal reinforcement bands. This helps you make the cut through the steel reinforced bands by keeping the rubber in the treads from grabbing and binding the metal cutting blades of the reciprocating saw. Work slowly, making shallow cuts at an angel across the tread. If you cut too vertically, the blade can still bind.

Step 5

Smooth the edges of the cut in the tire with the grinding wheel to cut away projecting wire and steel reinforcing sheathing that could catch skin if people brush against the tractor tire or sit on a projecting metal end.

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