A table top tile saw is a good solution for cutting large quantities of tile with consistency. Table top tile saws are available with either a fixed tray or a sliding tray. They are also considered wet tile saws and require the use of water as a coolant during use. There are different methods for cooling the blade including the use of just a reservoir, recirculating pumps, and a pumpless design that requires a connection to a fresh source of water.
Fixed Tray Tile Saw
Similar to table saws used for cutting wood,
fixed tray tile saws rely on the material being pushed across the table and through the diamond cutting blade. The diamond blade is mounted below the table, in a water reservoir. As the blade spins, the water cools and lubricates the blade. The water will also help to reduce dust and debris particles.
To maintain consistency, a fence allows the user to align the tile in the correct position. Once the fence is set, each tile can then easily be aligned for consistent cuts each time. Additionally, since clamps aren’t required, larger quantities can be cut quickly and efficiently.
Fixed tray tile saws are smaller and less expensive than sliding tray tile saws, making them great for most household projects and simple tiling jobs. A lightweight and compact design makes them portable and easily handled by one person. Additionally, these saws are easy to setup and can be placed on any stable surface.
Horsepower typically ranges from 1/3 hp to 3/4 hp with blade diameters that range from 4-1/2 inches to 7 inches. For many DIY home projects, a 7 inch blade will prove to be sufficient. These saws are generally ideal for cutting tile no larger than 12 inches square and 1 inch to 1-1/2 inches thick, depending on a saw’s particular specifications. A miter attachment can help assist with specialty cuts.
Sliding Tray Tile Saw
professional and higher quality cuts, look for a wet tile saw with a sliding tray and overhead motor. Instead of pushing the tile directly across to the blade, the tile is placed on tray fitted with rollers. The tray is then pushed to the cutting wheel where the blade cuts the tile from above. With the cutting wheel positioned above the tile, it is often easier to visually line the tile up correctly for precision cuts.
As with other wet tile saws, a sliding tray tile saw requires the use of water during operation in order to cool and the blade and material and reduce dust and debris. Heat buildup can cause the tile to break easily as well as cause damage to the blade or motor. There are both pump and pumpless models available.
To supply water to the blade, wet tile saws with a pump recirculate and filter the water in the water pan or on-board container. As the water gets dirty from use with dust and debris, the water pan will need to be cleaned. The water pan will likely need to be cleaned occasionally throughout the work day. Water pans with the plug on the bottom will be the easiest to drain.
A pumpless design requires a constant connection and flow from a water source, such as a water faucet. While the pumpless design allows for clean water to be constantly supplied, it also greatly limits the mobility of the saw by requiring a water source to always be nearby. Additionally, a bucket is necessary for the waste water, which will need to be emptied as it becomes full.
Regardless of the water delivery system, the saw’s performance specifications need to match with the material and types of cuts you will be doing. For example, if you will be cutting stone and tile that is particularly thick, 3 inches or more, you will want to make sure to get a saw with a powerful, high torque motor that can handle that depth of cut.
You will also need to take into account the length of cut and diagonal cut that you will be performing. A tile saw with a larger conveyor cart will help to support larger tiles for easier cuts. Also, if you will need to be making specialty cuts, look for a saw that has the capability to do plunge cuts and miter cuts. Additional features that you may want to consider is the ability to use different size blades and profile wheels.