Straight cuts are the most basic cut that is used over and over. Fortunately, you don't need an expensive tile saw to get simple straight cuts done. Manual or hand tools are a great option for one time jobs and small projects.
Carbide-tipped pencils and tile snap cutter are both inexpensive and easy to use tools that with a little practice, will produce accurate straight cuts.
If you only need to make a few straight cuts, a carbide-tipped pencil is a very cost-effective and easy approach. To make a cut, use a speed square as a guide, and score a line with the pencil by quickly dragging it across the tile a few times. With the other side of the pencil, snap the tile along the scored line. Then use a rubbing stone to smooth the edge of the tile.
Tile Snap Cutter
A tile snap cutter (sometimes called a rail cutter) is a great tool for small projects that require more than a few straight cuts. While an inexpensive option, it does require some practice to get straight cuts and is also best for smaller jobs. Using the same principle as a carbide-tipped pencil but with mechanical leverage, a simple three step process is used to cut the tile. Most tile snap cutters will have the speed square and diagonal fence built right into the tool.
First, score a deep line across the surface of the tile with the cutting wheel. Next, reposition the tile so that other side of the handle, or the "snapping nubs," rest on top of the tile. Then press down on the handle to break the tile into two pieces. Finally, use a rubbing stone to smooth the edge of the newly cut tile.
Tips: Practice on cheap tile that is similar in thickness and shape first. This will help you to get the hang and feel of the tile snap cutter. The first score is important. Be sure to use a forceful enough motion when making the first score across the top of the tile, but don't use to too much pressure that causes the tile to break. A second score may be used, but a third score or more tends to result in a break that is not clean.
Snaps may not be exactly 100% straight. However, these edge pieces can be placed along the wall side and covered with baseboard. Only straight cuts can be made with a tile snap cutter, and other tools are required for notched, curved, and beveled cuts.