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Tool Guide for Cutting Tile & Stone

Tile Saw

Wet tile saws employ a diamond blade with a water system to keep the blade cool and minimize dust. Tile saws come in a range of sizes from small, table top designs ideal for small DIY jobs to large, overhead rail saws that can accommodate large format stone and tile. With a tile saw, a variety of professional and accurate cuts can be performed.

Table top tile saws are the most commonly used tile saws and come with either a fixed tray or a sliding tray. With a fixed tray, the material is pushed across the table towards the blade so that a cut is made. A sliding tray is fitted with rollers and the material is placed on the tray. The tray is then pushed to across the table to meet the overhead blade for cutting. With these types of tile saws, straight cuts, diagonal cuts, and notched cuts can all be performed. Many sliding tray tile saws will also have a plunge cut feature to make square hole cuts while a mitre or bevel cut feature will allow for angled cuts commonly used for counter edges.

Straight Cuts

While straight cuts are the most basic cut, it is still important to use the proper technique to achieve consistent and clean cuts each time. Before starting a cut, wait for the stream of water to cover the blade. The water is important for minimizing dust, keeping the blade and material cool, and preventing heat buildup that can cause the tile to chip and break more easily. As you push the tile through the blade, watch the marked line, and adjust the tile as necessary to keep the blade on the line. If you have a shiny tiles, you might find the tile hard to mark, so if the mark is difficult to see, put masking tape down first and then mark on top of that.

For the best quality cuts, move the tile slowly through the blade with harder material requiring to slower feed rates. After finishing the cut, keep both hands on the tile and slide the table back, clearing the blade before turning the saw off.

Diagonal Cuts

To make a diagonal cut, use the same technique as a basic straight cut. If you're cutting larger size tile, you might find that while rip cuts are a breeze, diagonal cuts can become a problem. Once the tile is turned, it might not fit because the lip of the sliding try is too close to the blade or the tile is too large to fit between the fence and the blade.

In order to overcome a tile that is too big without having to purchase a larger saw, lay the tile directly on top of the fence. Another technique is to build up the sliding tray with something like hardibacker on both sides so the tile will be above the fence but still have something solid to rest on. You won't be able to use the fence as guide, however, so be sure to mark the tile before cutting. For large corner to corner cuts, cut half the tile first and then flip the tile around to finish the cut. This will help to keep the tile from breaking.

Notched & Curved Cuts

With a wet tile saw, professional and clean looking notched cuts can be made fairly easily. To make a notched cut, first mark the sides and end of the notch with a wax pencil. Next, cut along both of the marked sides, stopping at the end mark. Finally, between the side cuts, make a series of parallel cuts that are about a 1/4" apart and stopping at the end mark.

Now that the major cuts have been made, the excess material can now be removed by breaking off the individual pieces. To smooth out the end for a finished look, place the jagged notch end right up to the saw blade. With the blade running, slide the tile sideways across the blade to smooth the end for a completed notch.

Using the same technique for notch cuts, a tile saw can also be used to make curved cuts. Mark the line with a wax pencil and make straight cuts up to the marked line. Remove the "fingers" and smooth the edge with a rubbing stone. To make a large, circular hole such as for base of toilet or a sink pedestal of sink, make a curved or half-circle cut from the side of one tile and repeat from the side of another tile. Finally, fit both of the tiles around the fixture opening, putting the half-circle cuts together to make a single opening.

Square Hole Cuts

At some point, you'll likely need to make a square hole cut in a tile for an outlet. When cutting large format tiles, the need for precision square hole cuts is especially important. Square hole cuts are easily performed if your saw has a plunge cut feature. Most saws with this feature allow the cutting head to be lowered to the material to make a plunge cut from above. On some tile saws, the table itself is spring loaded, allowing the table with material to be brought up to blade for the plunge cut.

Mitre Cuts

Many tile saws will come with a mitre cutting feature such as tilting cutting head that allows for precise mitre cuts. Mitre cuts are commonly used for countertops and when the you need nice, finished-looking edges. To make mitre cuts, mark the tile for both the cut and mitre. Typically, a mitre guide for 45 and 22.5 degrees is included and will allow you to quickly and precisely make the mitre cut.

Tool Guide for Cutting Tile & Stone

Tile Snap Cutter & Carbide-Tipped Pencil
Tile Nipper & Hole Saw
Tile Saw