When the need arises to cut out a section of a floor tile in order to fit precisely around a fixed object, like around a bathroom unit for instance, then the use of an electric wet tile saw can make matters simpler wet grinder. Where cuts made by a standard ceramic tile breaker can only break tiles in a straight line, the wet tile saw can remove corners without damaging the tile beyond use.
Before the cut is made, first we need to mark out the area needed to be removed. This is best done with the use of a speed square as it keeps the lines at the perfect angle in relation to the outer edge of the tile. Once we have our section marked, then the wet tile saw comes into play.
The wet tile saw is basically a table saw with a rotating diamond blade partly submersed in water. These diamond blades are manufactured specifically with cutting products of a masonry nature in mind, but to avoid premature damage it is necessary to apply water as a cooling method to prevent burn out.
Below the operating table of the wet tile saw is situated a basin which is filled with water, but care should be taken in how much water is applied to the basin. Too much can result in excessive spillage and splash out, and too little can cause the blade to run dry resulting in damage, so the water level should always be continuously checked, as some does tend to seep out during conventional use.
The use of water in cutting floor tiles or any other masonry product for that matter, also limits any excessive unwanted concrete dust emissions. Apart from being a nuisance to clean up after any cutting is complete, concrete dust is also harmful if breathed in for any prolonged duration. Other methods of dry tile cutting can be used with a hand held angle grinder with either disposable abrasive or diamond tipped blades, but without the use of water for obvious compatibility reasons in relation to electrical appliances, these dust emissions are nothing but an inconvenience.
When using an electric wet tile saw, certain areas of safety should be taken into consideration. As working with any power tool the appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn by the user. Protective eyewear and ear muffs should be used at all times as the wet saw blade tends to throw out particles during operation, as well as make a lot of noise which can result in damage to hearing over long periods of time.
Also as an extra precaution when operating, the wet tile saw should be placed on a workbench of solid structure, or better still be used on the floor itself. There is nothing more solid than the ground though, and that you will soon find out if you choose not to wear knee pads which can act as an added comfort. When making cuts on floor tiles using the angle grinder and diamond blade, this is where the tricky part comes into practice. Not only is it a hand held tool which is more difficult to control for doing straight lines, but you also have to gradually cut the tile from the reverse underside. When marking your tile for cutting, you actually have to mirror the measurements to obtain the correct dimensions for topside laying, and this can be a somewhat confusing aspect at the best of times.
Once happy with your desired markings, you then follow your lines with lightly scored cuts, going over the same spot maybe around 4 to 5 times to as far as the glaze only, and never straight through in one go. If you attempt this, you’ll probably just end up breaking the floor tile in no time, so the trick to cutting with the angle grinder is with gentle sweeping strokes, and never all the way.
For ease of control to suit your own preferences, you can either hold the main body of the angle grinder with one hand, and with the other hold the optional grip handle which sticks out from either the left or the right. This method will give you a more precise and rigid control over cutting which is ideal for straight lines.
For rounded lines however, then with both hands on the main body you can achieve a more free-flowing action ideal for circular sweeps. The guard which protects your hands from the blade can also be rotated to suit your choice of cutting angle, but whatever you do, never remove it from the grinder. It is there for a purpose if it’s your own personal protection that you value most.
If you have a circular pattern to remove from a tile, do this in stages like with the wet tile saw in making a ‘comb teeth’ pattern following your main line of cut. Once you have a series of 1/4″ to 1/2″ inch wide ‘teeth’ along your line cut from the reverse side but not entirely all the way through to the glaze, you can then easily nip these off with either your tile nippers or standard pliers, and clean up the sharp edges as you go. As always though, safety first, so never forget to wear your eye protection even when nibbling tiles. Those shards can snap off like bullets.
As an ideal method of practice to get the hang of these techniques before actually applying them to your job, it is always wise to get a little experience in first to establish your comfort zone. Using off-cuts or broken floor tiles beyond salvage, first get some training in on how to cut tiles using the angle grinder. You can never be too careful when trying out something new, and the last thing you want is unnecessary wastage and higher expense to the budget of your floor tiling project.