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Manual Tile Cutter or Electric Tile Saw?

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  1. #1
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    Cool Manual Tile Cutter or Electric Tile Saw?

    I am planning on laying about 12 sq mtrs of black and white 300mm x 300mm polished porcelain floor tiles in a diagonal checkerboard pattern which will obviously require a number of diagonal cuts across the tiles to finish the borders.

    These will be laid on 15mm compressed cement sheets and I will not be putting on the skirting boards or door jams until after the tiling to give me a bit of leeway and minimise the number of fiddly cuts.

    I am concerned at the likelihood of breaking tiles (particularly the points) when cutting on the diagonal given this is my first tiling effort and so am leaning towards buying an electric tile saw and 'taking it slowly' when cutting.

    I note previous comments on the number of %#&@* manual tile cutters about and how much better a quality tile cutter is to use. Is there the same variation and effect on the final job in the quality of electric tile saws as there are in manual tile cutters (eg Sigma vs $19.99 special)?

    I don't want to spend a fortune but if I am going to do it I want to do it right - would appreciate comments on:

    1. manual tile cutter vs electric tile saw for diagonal cutting

    2. quality issues and pricing for electric tile saws.

    Thanks
    Ron

  2. #2
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    cutting on the diagonal is going to break the corners using the elctric saw, if you are cutting out of the tile - you would have to turn each tile around and cut inwards from the corner and meet in the middle to avoid breaking out.

    Bunnings hire out the sigma cutters. i would go there on a quiet day, get hold of the guy that does the tiling demos on saturday mornings, and bringing a couple of tiles with you, try cutting the diagonal there and then, and if it works hire it for a day when you have all your cuts marked and ready to go.

    porcelain is pretty variable as to how it cuts and breaks, so there is no easy answer - but manual cuts are neater and you dont lose 2.5mm width of the cut like on a diamond saw.

    hiring a $400 tile cutter for $35 a day is a bargain, and will save you that much in tiles easily. The cheapos sometimes work sometimes dont. I have 2, and as long as you have learnt the idiosynicrises of each they are OK - eg one needs to have the tile 10mm down from the top or the break is off (a dta model ), and the4 QEP breaks them fine, but if you press the wheel down hard you get a slight curve in the tile!!

    the $99 wet saws are fine for the amount you are doing - they are slow though! -

  3. #3
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    I'd definitely be going for the Sigma tile cutter, as hired out by Bunnings and many other places. When cutting the tiles, make sure you keep pressure OFF the tile (ie. this will make them more likely to break).

    If you're really worried, after you've done a couple of test cuts, here's what I'd do (time consuming but may be worth it):

    Make two scribes just either side of the diagonal. Use your angle grinder to make the cut in between these two scribes (any chipping will stop at the scribe line).

    Also, when scribing, make sure you only do a light scribe. Some people think that scribing the heck out of the tiles makes the cut better. Quite the contrary! Firm, light, consistent scribing is the way to go.

    The above said, if you're not fitting skirting board until after you've tiled, you should be alright. Generally speaking, when cutting on the diagonal, the biggest problem is the very end of the cut, which should well and truly be hidden by the skirting board.

    Best of luck with it. Let us know how you go.

    Lotte

  4. #4
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    I bought a porcelain cutter isuz I think the name is from japan made specially for porcelain. The wheel is a lot thicker and stronger than the sigma about 10mm thick.
    Yes you will need a lot of practise before you get it right.
    well I will just walk to my garage and have a look bt as Im from perth I bought it from b&b hardware maddingon as they are specialists in tiling plastering and mainly trades.
    my tile cutter cost me under $300 but for what you are doing it will cost more for a bigger size one.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmartens View Post
    I bought it from b&b hardware maddingon as they are specialists in tiling plastering and mainly trades.

    Anyone in Perth buying tiling equipment should consider shopping there, as said they specialise in tiling and have a great range - some of it unfortunately out of my pocket.

    Denn

  6. #6
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    Cool

    Mmmmm - went to a couple of specialist tile shops with a sample of the tiles I am using. They commented something about the tiles being 'full thickness' and there was no way a manual cutter would cut them without breaking the points on a diagonal cut - 2 of these had large Sigma cutters on display (so I assume they knew the capabilities of a good cutter) and all three suggested hiring the biggest wet tile saw I could find for a day.

    Had some smaller tiles to cut for a decorative fireplace hearth anyway so went to Bunnies and bought a wet saw which the 'salesman' assured me was large enough to cut 300mm tiles diagonally. It cut through the smaller tiles easily and I thought I was on a roll but, needless to say, it turns out the table just wasn't wide enough to allow the fence and jig to be set up to allow full half diagonal cuts on the larger tiles (nice little triangles yes, but not full halves).

    I am looking curiously at my Triton to figure out if I can get the top to sit over the table of the wet saw to provide the extra width - this would be a bonus as it has a fence and measure built in. Anybody seen the Thinking Cap about?

  7. #7
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    I am looking curiously at my Triton to figure out if I can get the top to sit over the table of the wet saw to provide the extra width - this would be a bonus as it has a fence and measure built in. Anybody seen the Thinking Cap about?[/quote]

    Seems like a possibility. But I wouldn't worry about going wet. I have an overhead wet cutting tile cutting diamond saw. I initially used it wet and found it to be a hastle so emptied the water and have since used it dry... works just a well but just a bit dusty. I've also used a diamond blade in an angle grinder... works great just dusty.

    With a diamond blade in your Triton set the blade just proud of the tile thickness so that you shouldn't get any chipping on the tile from the back of the of the blade.

    I found with my overhead saw chipping of the tile from the back of the blade was a real problem.

  8. #8
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    I bolted a tray of compressed cement sheeting across the side rails of the Triton underneath the benchtop and then bolted the wet saw to the sheeting, so I can now use the wet saw in the Triton!

    Had a couple of test cuts and was not altogether happy with the chipping along the cut edge. It is not that dramatic (probably only a fraction of a mm chipping into the face of the tile) but where the tiles are going they will be a feature and I want it to be as classy as possible. Although most of the cuts will be under skirting boards etc there will still be a dozen or so at the edges of doorways to and from that area.

    I will try a variation on Pharmaboy's suggestion and use the wetsaw to nic just the first few mm of the diagonal cut on each corner and then use a good manual cutter - hopefully this will allow the tile to break cleanly without compromising the diagonal points. I realise the gap caused by the blade thickness may be visible but will try it and see if it will be an issue.

    Thanks for the advice, Ron

  9. #9
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    My wife in her wisdom picke tiles to do our bathroom that are 330mm X 440mm.

    As it was obvious some of them would need to be cut at different widths heights and diagonally I decided the best way to go was a wet tile cutter.

    I bought a Ryobi one for about $79 ?? ( it was 5 years ago now) but it works a treat.

    I mounted it on a base and made it so it would clamp into my workmate.

    I then built two extensions one for the left and one for the right side.

    I can cut tiles larger than the ones I had at any angle.And the right side extension tilts with the saw table and it allows me to mitre the edges of the tiles as well.

    I will attempt to add some pictures I just took.

    In the first picture you can see the ply base under the saw and a narrow strip under it to clamp in the workmate. The left side extension is a box with MDF which sits on top of the workmate top and is located by two dowels into the ply clamped into the workmate.

    I had some stainless steel sheet so I covered the MDF with that. The saw fence relys on clamping the back and front edges of the top so it clamps onto the extension OK.

    The right side fixes directly to the tilting table,and I put the saw in the workmate to the right enough to allow the long extension to drop down below the workmate top.
    I can put the fence anywhere along the tops left ot right of the blade.

    Cutting diagonally is a breaze, I made a 45 deg slot in a piece of ply and just set the fence to the corner of the tile.

    I found that the tiles I used needed to be cut on the rear end in about 10mm before I did the full cut or sometimes the end would break away a bit crooked on the end. This obviously depends on the tiles as the 300mm square tiles I used on the floor didn't tend to do this.

    The saw is great for odd shapes, easy to cut an L shaped bit out of a big tile to go around the edge of a window etc and easy to cut circles, hexagonals in the edges of the tiles for drain holes.

    It doesn't tend to chip the tiles as it cuts but maybe some tiles are more prone to this. Being able to tilt the table allows me to set the fence up so I can take just a wisker off the edge and give it slight chamfer also.

    As it took several days to do all the different cuts ( its got a border made by cutting white tiles into 50mm strips ) and its has done several other jobs as well I reacon I have saved Several hundred dollars on hire fees as its mine to use when I need it not now or I'm up for another days hire.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails tilesaw-001.jpg   tilesaw-002.jpg   tilesaw-003.jpg  

  10. #10
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    I have nearly finished a bathroom in porcelain tiles, walls and floor and I think it would be difficult to do without a wet saw and grinder.
    They should put prisoners to work cutting those things. They are pretty fragile on the cut edge and chip easily. I bought a cheap wet saw ($80) from Bunnings and the finish is pretty good - I wouldn't cut exposed bevel edges with it but with some care and a bit of hand polishing with a stone afterwards the cuts look good. Obviously a pro hire saw would give a better result, but being able to take my time suits better for me.

  11. #11
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    I have worked alongside tilers who have been doing it for 40 years and and they have only ever owned a manual tile cutter and a 4 inch grinder . Since u dont have to worry about chipping on the cut edge due to hiding it under skirting i would spend your money on a good quality unsegmented diamond wheel for your 4 inch grinder .I have a ryobi el cheapo wet saw and it would be the worlds slowest and messiest way to cut tiles , I should have guessed when for 90$ u get two blades with the saw . Not only are the blades crap the saw tends to seize in a long diagonal cut due to not enough power . Spend $50 bucks on a good 100 mm blade and u will have it for ever . Look on the bright side , the only thing worse than cutting porcelain is drilling it and apart from maybe a door stop , u should be right. cheers

  12. #12
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    Reviving an old thread. Reading this and other related threads on cutting tiles with grinders, Sigma tile cutters and Ryobi wet saw (Bunnings) there is varied opinion on what is best to use. Grinders have their place on cutting odd bits and pieces off/out but manual or electric tile cutters would be best for full length/width cuts.

    I will be tiling the bathroom in stages so hiring a Sigma a few times will cost the same as a Ryobi wet saw - as Durwood has also mentioned above. Floor will be 300x300 glazed porcelain, wall 300x600 rectified ceramic. The sigma will cut clean straight lines quickly and without much noise, but are difficult to cut small widths off - not enough leverage to snap. Ryobi would cut small slithers off I assume with ease and do all other cuts but would be noisy and slow (based on other posts).

    My other concern is that with a Sigma you can line up the tile under the sliding blade so that you can get the cut extremely accurate, but with the Ryobi I assume you slide the tile along the side of the tray which I would not be as confident in getting as accurate a cut at the last part to reach the blade. And can these cut the long side of a 600mm tile?

    BTW, I have used a Sigma on ceramic and porcelain up to 300x300 without problem, and used a grinder on small cuts - although I did not get a clean cut on polished porcelain (I am now aware and have bought the continuous smooth diamond blade which is specified for porcelain).

    In my situation what do you feel would be most suitable - Ryobi wet saw or Sigma for what I will be cutting.

    Also re cutting small holes (too small for grinder) for taps etc, what is the consensus on the best for variable size holes:
    1) the triangle shaped blade which cuts as wide as you drill into tile.
    2) the adjustable arm which spins around a centre pilot drill bit.

    Thanks

  13. #13
    GeoffW1
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    Hi,

    For holes in glazed ceramic wall tiles,I've been using a cheap diamond grit hole saw from ebay, and if I don't press hard and give it time, it is fine. You can get them in sets.

    Cheers

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