For those who don’t know, wet saws are power tools that use one water-cooled diamond blade, and they can turn the task of cutting tile into a quick one. Now, as with all power tools, it’s crucial that anyone who uses a wet saw knows how to use it, and the following guide will do just that while also teaching some more common cutting strategies.
Since diamond blades don’t have teeth, they are perfect for delicate cutting, which is required when cutting tile. Also, if a job calls for specialty cuts – drain openings, beveled edges, AC registers, or outlets – wet saws are your best option. They typically have a sliding table for feeding tile into an overhead blade while a pump shoots a small water stream on the blade as it’s running.
If the pump isn’t spraying water over the tile and blade, don’t cut because the water is for cooling the blade and produces more quality cuts—ensure all water delivery mechanisms work properly before using. Also, wear gloves and eye protection, keep your fingers away from the diamond blade, and avoid loose jewelry or clothing that might get snagged in the blade.
Directions for Using a Wet Saw for Tile
- Note: Once you have a wet saw, the tile, and some rags, practice the following cutting techniques on a few surplus tiles beforehand.
- Aligning Tile: Set your fence to ensure that when your layout line is at the blade, the tile’s widest part is between the fence and blade—this keeps fingers as far from the blade as possible while cutting. Then, back your tile away from the blade before turning on your saw. If you’re unsure of how to arrange the tile, set up in various positions, going with one that reinforces the biggest tile section.
- Cutting: Holding with both your hands, feed the tile into the blade along the fence. Push gradually, allowing the saw to work while keeping hands safe from the blade. Drive the tile piece between the fence and blade until the tile is completely clear of the blade.
- Notches: Mark the sides as well as the notch’s edge. Along the notch’s sides, make two even cuts, resetting your fence after the first. Stop your cuts once the blade has reached the line marking the notch’s end—if a notch is more than an inch wide, reset your fence for a sequence of parallel cuts that are spaced roughly ¼ inch apart. Stop when each cut reaches the line marking the notch’s end. Break the single pieces off between the notch’s sides.
- Note: For trimming the rest of the jagged edge, place the tile on the table, the blade inside the notch and barely touching said jagged edge. While the blade is running, slide your tile sideways and keep the pressure on the blade’s tip in order to smooth the edge.
- Diagonal Cuts: Set the miter guide to an appropriate angle best matching the layout line, which should be directly on the blade’s front. Gradually feed your tile into the blade, particularly toward the end, which is when breakage usually happens. This technique is also good for other miter cuts besides point-to-point diagonals, such as for triangular pieces.
- Bevel Cuts: These cuts are usually 45-degree cuts along the tile’s edge—use for where two walls meet or for outside or inside wrap-around corners.
- L-Shaped Cuts: These cuts remove part of a tile to fit around a cabinet or molding or into a corner. Tiles can be customized with L-cuts by marking the needed cuts and then using a set of notches and straight cuts to cut the full shape out.
Through these cutting techniques, you can hopefully make your job that much easier, but remember to practice extreme safety measures when handling a wet saw to protect your hands, eyes, and the rest of you.
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