How to Cut Tile Without a Wet Saw

How to Cut Tile Without a Wet Saw

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Adjust the saw to cut to a depth of 1/8 inch into the tile; not completely through it. In saws with a blade that lowers, the depth is usually adjusted at the back end of the saw blade near the hinge. In some models, it is the platform that requires adjusting, and not the blade. Precision with the depth of the cut is not critical, but the blade should not cut through more than half of the tile’s thickness.

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7. Finding a Balancer

A blade balancer checks the quality and location of the diamond saw blade center to ascertain that it is not out of balance. Any form of imbalance in the blade will lead to vibration, which results in bad, bent, and crooked cut. An imbalanced blade will produce nothing short of a rough cut, which reduces the quality of the outcome you intended to get. Balancing the blade will bring about straightness in a cut produced by the wet saw.

9.Ways to Avoid Edge Notches

The presence of jagged edges around your tile can induce an early crack. Smooth edges are critical, especially when your tile will be in a visible area. Notched edge tiles are not desirable as it gives your job an overall non-appealing look. Although, if the tile is in a corner where grout or baseboard will cover it, then you may be good to go. The number one rule to avoiding a notched/jagged edge is to use the appropriate equipment for the job. In this case, for a porcelain tile cutting, a wet saw is the best for the job.

Furthermore, you need to ensure that the teeth of your blade are sharpened at all times to avoid a lot of chipping off. Again, you need to be fully aware of the diamond blade cutting direction. Failure to cut in proper direction can lead to a series of chipping and, eventually, a jagged edge.

Fig 9: Cutting a small edge

Fig 9: Cutting a small edge

Steps to Cut tile without a Wet Saw

  1. Prepare the tile that you want to cut or measure the area that is to be cut if you’re looking to remove it from the surface. Then, take a cutting wheel and oil it with light machine oil.
  2. Score the line by putting extra pressure with the help of the hands. Now, place the jaws centred on the score line and apply pressure to break the tile.
  3. If you’re trying to cut a different shape, draw the shape. Score firmly after drawing it and cut edge to edge following the scored line.
  4. Once can not only cut straight lines, but can also cut wiggly lines, curves and other abstract shapes by following this procedure.
  5. Usually a tile saw takes around 20-40 minutes to cut a tile which can be done in few minutes using the scoring tool.

My tiles are chipping

Tiles are generally very tough, but they are not invincible. Like any hard floor surface, if a hard object on the right angle is dropped onto a glazed tile (porcelain or ceramic), there is a change of the tile itself chipping or cracking.

More often than not, a chip in a tile will look like a crater in the tile as it chips through the glaze and into the biscuit of the tile. The biscuit is the clay that makes up the body of the tile behind the coloured surface/glaze.

Tips for common problems

Photo 10: Prevent chipping Press both halves of the tile together until the cut is complete to prevent the tile from breaking and chipping at the end of the cut.

With a little practice, cutting tile on a wet saw is almost trouble free. But there are a few common problems that are easy to avoid or fix with the right techniques.

Some types of tile tend to break when the cut is almost complete. Photo 10 shows the solution. Straying from the line is another common problem, especially when you’re cutting without a fence or guide. You can’t force the blade back to the line by twisting the tile. Instead, back up and recut the tile, slicing off a small amount of tile until the blade is back on track.

Saw Safety Plug the saw into a GFCI-protected outlet. Don’t wear jewelry or loose-fitting clothes. Tie back long hair. Wear safety glasses and hearing protection. Use both hands to guide the tile through the blade. Keep your fingers away from the blade.

Special techniques

Photo 2: Diagonal cuts

Photo 2: Diagonal cuts

Sight down the cutting mark and align it with the blade. Hold the tile in this position and guide it through the saw. Wear safety glasses.

Photo 3: Notching for corners

Photo 3: Notching for corners

Cut along both lines until the cuts intersect in the corner. Break out the waste piece.

Photo 4: Finishing the notch Invert the tile on the sliding bed, then saw from the back of the tile to remove the remaining bit of tile and create a clean corner. You can cut a little past the corner on the backside.

Photo 2 shows how to make a freehand diagonal cut. Use this technique to cut any angle marked on tile. The key is to sight down the cutting line and align the blade with the line. If your tile is too large to fit between the fence and blade, lay the tile on top of the fence.

Shiny tiles can be hard to mark. If you’re having trouble seeing your line as you cut, place a strip of masking tape on the tile and mark that instead.

Using a wet saw

Wet saw

You can buy a good wet saw for small projects (tiling a bathroom or a kitchen) for about 100-200 dollars. Although it is not a professional tool, its a good choice if you look for a way to make accurate cuts, while keeping your costs down.

Make sure you check the blade before using the wet saw, as to make sure it is sharp and in good condition. If you find the slightest issue, you should buy a new diamond blade.

Wet saw water tray

Before making the cuts, you should fill the tray of the wet saw with the optimum amount of water. In this manner, the water will cool down the blade and you will get accurate cuts.

Making angle cuts with a wet saw

A wet saw will help you make bevel cuts. Generally speaking, bevel cuts are used when tiling outside corners (when the gaps between the tiles are too large).

In addition, you can use the wet saw to make bevel cuts for inside corners, if you don’t want to install tile trims. The maximum cut angle is 45º, making the wet saw a very versatile cutting tool.

Wet saw start and stop buttons

A regular wet saw has two switches: a start and a stop button. You have to press the green button to start the power tool, and the red button after you have cut the tile. Remember that the blade will still rotate for several minutes after you have pressed the stop button (due to inertia), so make sure you keep your hands away.

As you can see in the image, the electric switches are water-splash protected, as the wet saw uses water to cooll down the blade.

Cutting Porcelain Tile Without Chipping It

Step 1 – Tile Placement

Place the tile cutter on a sturdy surface in front of you. Put the porcelain tile against the tile stop at the end of the cutter. Ensure that the pressure is distributed evenly so that you cut a straight line.

Step 2 – Cutting the Tile

Place the blade on the tile edge closest to you. Press the lever down and then roll the blade to the other end of the cutter. One final push down will ensure that the cut goes through to the end of the tile. The key to cutting porcelain tile without chipping it is not to use too much force. People think you need to press down hard, but just a little pressure should do the trick. The gentle pressure will avoid tile damage.

Looking for the best tools on the market, be sure to look at CMP Stonemason Tools what we have in stock.

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Engage the saw blade, and push the tile through the blade to make a shallow cut across the tile. After making the cut, you can reset the blade to cut through the whole tile, or cut a notch into one end and then cut the whole tile.

So I should use a wet saw

I believe that I need to point you in the right direction on how to cut porcelain tile or any tile. I would say a wet saw is the best tool for you to use. I do like my tile cutter because it’s faster, I can use it anywhere and it’s just more convenient.

But we are talking about the most user friendly cutting tool, so I choose a wet saw! I do want to say though, that not all wet saws are created equal. I have used some junk wet saws and it would be hard for me to tell you if the wet saw you are renting is worth renting or not.

I just want to say that if you have a big project that you are working on, you might want to consider buying a wet saw. The money you spend on renting might be close to what you would pay for one. Here is a link to a saw I think would be a great saw.

Wet Saw (click here)

I know it’s expensive! I’m really not telling you to buy it, if it doesn’t make sense. If you have a custom shower to install, chances are that it would be a minimum of $2000.00 just for installation. Let me be clear, I do not make any money from this link I am sharing. I have a Dewalt tile saw that costed me over a $1000.00. I really wanted to be able to recommend a saw that was more reasonable in price.

So I went to Home Depot and bought the saw that you see in the link above. I wanted to test it before I recommended it to you. I have used it for over a year now and it’s really a good saw!

What if you did buy it? You could sell it when you are done with it on Craigslist or Ebay. I’m sure you could get your money back. Okay enough on that let me show you why I like this saw.

Wet Tile Saw vs. Snap Tile Cutter

A great many novice DIYers perform their first tile installation job using a manual snap cutter. A snap cutter operates like a glass cutter. It has a carbide cutting wheel attached to a lever. The wheel is drawn across the tile to score the face, then a built-in snapper is used to press down across the scored line to snap the tile on the score.

There is nothing at all wrong with a snap cutter, especially for small jobs. But it is not very effective for making angled cuts or for cutting small tiles. The cuts are typically a bit rough, which may require some hand sanding to smooth them. And for big jobs that require cutting many tiles, it can become very wearisome to use a snap cutter.

Once a DIYer learns how to use a wet tile saw, they rarely go back to the snap cutter.

Wet Tile Saw
  • Works for all types of stone, ceramic, and porcelain tiles

  • More expensive—but also more versatile tool

  • Messy to use

  • Requires electrical connection

  • Cuts tiles very easily

  • Useful for making angled cuts

  • Cuts large and small tiles equally well

Snap Tile Cutter Not suitable for cutting stone or most porcelain tiles Not suitable for cutting thick floor tiles Inexpensive tool Requires more manual effort Angled cuts are difficult Doesn't work well for small tiles

Safety tips when using a tile saw

A tile saw can be a dangerous tool if not used properly. You should always take safety precautions when operating it, such as:

  • wear safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself
  • wear a face mask to prevent dust and debris in the air from being inhaled
  • check the sharpness of the blade before using the saw to ensure it can operate properly
  • don’t overload the saw and operate it only within its limits

Keeping a Wet Tile Saw in Good Condition

Wet tile saws require diligent cleaning in order to stay in good operating condition. The fine clay and stone particles produced by the saw can easily solidify around moving parts and cause the saw to malfunction. Most commonly, the sliding table stops moving smoothly.

The tool's instruction manual will give details on how to clean, but you should expect to spend at least 30 minutes cleaning your tool after each use. This process usually involves a thorough spraying or sponge cleaning of all parts, followed by careful towel drying. Many experienced users like to spray the slides and other moving parts with a lithium spray lubricant after cleaning. This will displace any remaining moisture and prevent corrosion.

Can you cut tiles without a tile cutter?

If you want to cut tiles without a wet saw or even a tile cutter you can use a glass cutter/scribe or carbide-tipped pencil. Cutting tiles with a scribe can be done successfully on thinner glass tiles especially:

  • Measure where the tile needs to be cut using a pencil alongside a metal ruler, draw a straight line across.
  • Hold the metal ruler on the cut line to ensure a straight cut. Holding at a 45° angle, use the tile scribe against the side of the ruler, apply pressure and cut across into the glaze. 
  • Do not aim to cut through the tile entirely.
  • Use a long thin object underneath the scored tile, such as a pencil, and apply pressure either end of the tile and break into two.
  • Be careful of the sharp edges after cutting. If the cut isn’t clean and the edges are slightly rough, use a file to smooth the edges.

Conclusion

These were some tips from my side for cutting a tile without using a wet saw. I hope this guide helps you to cut the tiles in the most appropriate way. Feel free to share this tutorial and comment below if you have any queries. Cheers!

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