This article is about how to cut tiles with a wet saw. Using a wet saw is not hard, provided you understand the basic cutting techniques and you use eye protection. From our experience, we can say that a wet saw is the quickest and the most accurate way to cut your tiles, when having to lay ceramic tiles in your bathroom or kitchen. In addition, if you are a novice or an amateur diy-er, you could buy the right wet saw at a decent price, as to get the job done as a professional. If you use a sharp diamond blade, fill the tray with water (as to cool the blade during the process) and pay attention to our tips and tricks, you should lean the basic cutting techniques of a wet saw.
First of all, you should know that it is possible to cut tiles without a wet saw. Therefore, if you don’t want to use this power tool, you should read our article on how to cut ceramic tiles with a score and snap cutter. Nevertheless, you should understand that a wet saw is the best choice if you look for accurate and quick cuts. In addition, using a wet saw is the right decision if you have to make complex cuts (around drains, outlets, junction boxes, or beveled edges).
Generally speaking, a wet saw consists of a table, an electric motor, a diamond blade with plastic protection, and a tray (the water in the tray cools down the blade). Nevertheless, the more expensive wet saws have a pump which sprays water over the blade, as to get the most accurate cuts. If you are an amateur diy-er and want to use the power tool just for your home projects, then a basic wet saw would fit your needs perfectly.
If you have to cut notches in tiles, you should perform several paralleled cuts on the area you want to remove. Remember that the cuts should be made every 1/4”. Next, use a pair of tile snipers to remove the waste and smooth the edge, by moving it (left to right and right to left) on the wet saw’s table into the diamond blade. The blade of the tool will clean the cut edge, if you work with attention.
In order to cut tiles with a wet saw, you need the following:
- Ceramic tiles
- Water (to fill the tray)
- Eye protection
- Wet saw
- Make sure you place the wet saw on a level surface
- Fill the tray with water, up to the optimum level
- Wear eye protection and safety gloves, while cutting tiles with the wet saw
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions, as to get accustomed with the wet saw
- Several minutes for every cut (it varies according to the complexity of the cut)
Using a 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.
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.
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.
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.
How to cut tiles with a wet saw
Step 1: If you have to make a complex cut, the best choice is to use a wet saw, as it gets the job done quickly and accurately. On the other hand, you could use a score tile cutter, but it will require more time and effort. Before making the cut, you have to take accurate measurements, therefore use a marker and an L-square (to draw straight cut lines).
Step 2: When drawing the measurements on the ceramic tile, you have to leave enough room around the tile to install the spacers. In addition, if the tile is the last one in a row, make sure you leave space for expansion (1/16 – 1/8”). Taking accurate measurements is almost half of the whole project, therefore work with good judgement.
Step 3: Before making the actual cuts with the wet saw, you have to pour water in the tray, just enough to cool down the blade during the procedure.
You should remember that the cooling system differs according to the manufacturer. Nevertheless, in most of the cases the water tray is incorporated in the wet saw. Just slide the table and fill the tray with water. Other manufacturers have design the wet saws with a separate water tray (as you can see in the image).
Step 4: Align the tile on the table of the wet saw and adjust the fence, as the blade to cut the tile exactly over the line. In addition, make sure you place the tile with the widest part between the blade and the fence. In this manner, you will keep your hand away from the diamond blade.
Step 5: Use a pair of safety gloves to protect your hands and put on eye protection. Next, pull the tile 1” off the blade and start the wet saw by pressing the green button.
Last but not least, secure the fence at both ends as to make sure you will make a straight cut. Nevertheless, there are cases in which you cannot use the fence, therefore you have to push gently the tile, as to ensure the blade cuts the tile exactly over the line.
Step 6: Hold the tile with your both hands and push it gently along the fence into the diamond blade. Remember that during the procedure, the plastic protection should cover the blade. In the image we have lifted the protection to show you how to position the tile on the table.
Step 7: Make sure you keep your hands away from the blade while you are using the wet saw. In addition, do not force the power tool, just let the blade to cut the tile in its own stride.
Step 8: Next, turn the tile 90º and make the other cut along the line, in the same manner as before. Check the tray to make sure there is enough water to cool down the blade, before performing the second cut.
Step 9: Wait until the blade stops rotating and take the tile pieces off the table. Next, make sure you unplug the wet saw and thoroughly clean it with a sponge.
Step 10: You can also cut tiles diagonally with a wet saw, if you use the right techniques. Therefore, you should use the triangle attachment to guide the tile along the fence (set the fence as to ensure the blade goes over the cut line). Push firmly the tile towards the blade, keeping your hands away.
Step 11: If the tile is not wide, you should work with great care, as to protect your fingers. We’ve seen many people (even qualified professionals) who don’t pay enough attention to safety considerations and end up injuring themselves.
Step 12: Lock the fence firmly on the table, start the wet saw and cut the tile. Notice the way we keep our hands while pushing the tile towards the blade, as to avoid possible injuries. If you are a novice or don’t want to take any risks, it would be better to hire a professional.
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