Having just finished a bathroom working with my brother-in-law who is a General Contractor, I used a Wet Saw for the first time. The Wet Saw is a Priceless piece of equipment when working with ceramic tile. So renting one was a no-brainer. I can’t even imagine trying to cut these any other way. What is a wet saw?
A Wet Saw resembles a Table or Mitre saw but uses a diamond-edged carbide blade to cut or grind ceramic, stone, or porcelain tile to size from a sliding table that feeds tile to an overhead blade. The saw uses an H2O reservoir to soak the blade at the cut to keep it cool, reducing wear & dust.
A water-cooled tile saw enables the diamond-tipped blade to cool, preventing it to melt under the heat of heavy use, and you can set up your own model using a reservoir and electric pump. Keep your blade cool and the mess down. Here are some tips for Setting your Wet Saw up and cutting tile and doing it safely.
How to Cut Tile With a Wet Saw
A Wet Tile Saw is a serious piece of equipment and should be taken seriously. It is used for cutting Ceramic and Porcelain tiles without the risk or breaking chipping or cracking the tile which can fly around the room making it dangerous work. A Wet Tile Saw looks like a small table saw, but it is equipped with a special diamond-edged carbide blade that is quite different than the saw blades used to cut wood.
Rather than truly cutting the hard ceramic material, it more or less grinds through the tile keeping the cuts perfectly straight and even ready to go on the floor or wall wherever you are using them. The Tile is feed on top of the upper-table through an overhead circular blade. These Saws can do Mitre Cuts, Diagonally or straight rips depends on how big and bad you want to go.
The continually moving water reduces debris and dust, plus it cools down the cutting blade. This tool deserves all your attention and can make smooth cuts to tight specifications as long as you use it safely and according to the instructions. You can continually add clean water to the reservoir or use the same water. You can drain the wastewater into a bucket if you connect up to a hose. It still is a messy proposition you can’t get around it.
I prefer to tarp up, do it outside, and carry the cuts into the home where you are laying the tiles. If there is a garden hose handy you can use that as a water source to feed the machine.
There are 2 basic types of Wet Saws
- Recirculating pump saws-This type of wet tile saw keeps recirculating and filtering the same water. This eliminates the need to be hooked up to a water faucet.
- Freshwater source saws- This type of saw draws water straight from a water source. While these “pumpless” tile saws ensure a continual spray of clean water, they also mean you cannot stray too far from a water source. A top of the line unit like this one that works with a water pump and 10 in. Diamond Blade MK Diamond 158189-AMZ MK-100 10-Inch 1-1/2HP Tile Saw found on Amazon. A spare Diamond coated Blade MK Diamond 153696 MK-303 Professional 10-Inch Diameter Lapidary Blade by .040-Inch wide by 5/8-Inch Arbor
Make sure the wastewater from the Saw is collected properly especially around the area where you are standing. You don’t want to be standing in a puddle of water running the electrical equipment!!
Why Does a Wet Saw Need Water
Water In a Wet Tile Saw has a few purposes that contribute to ensure the Wet Saw works effectively.
- It washes away the cut material
- It lubricates the Saw’s blade so it lasts longer
- It cools the blade otherwise the blade will heat up making it lasts longer
- It eliminates airborne dust pulling the dust down keeping it from clouding in the air but it is still necessary to wear good dust mask protection or you’ll be inhaling a lot of dangerous ceramic dust. Your lungs won’t last long, and even with eye protection the dust still gets in. Not to mention the surrounding work area environment where there might be others in the area.
- It provides a smoother cut by damping blade vibrations and serving as a slurry and preventing the tile from chipping
- It reduces noise-that vibration created by the friction of the blade and the ceramic or porcelain would make a tremendous amount of noise.
- It will also save the condition of the blade which uses a diamond edge to cut with.
How To Set up a Wet Saw
- Make sure you are using a GFI-protected outlet.
- Wear safety glasses w/ side shields, rubber-soled boots (tiles can be heavy and sharp), and an apron.
- Fill the water reservoir, turn on the pump, cue the saw to ensure the blade is getting water.
- Place a marked tile glazing upon the carrier, slowly and at an even rate push the carrier under the spinning blade while using your fingers to steady the tile (press down slightly at the corners) keeping your fingers always out of the path of travel of the carrier under the blade.
- Use an angle guide for angled cuts, for cut-outs you can make multiple passes and nibble away at the area to be removed.
- Remember cut tiles and especially brittle tile are very sharp so handle them carefully
- Keep track of the wastewater or collection bucket so the water is not puddling up under the table and you standing in it.
- Position the Tile Saw onto a level, sturdy surface.
- Fill the tile saw’s reservoir with water
- Position the tile onto the cutting table.
- Turn the tile saw on.
- Feed the tile into the blade and gently push the tile into the Saw-the Standard Wet Saw blade makes a wider type of cut you can get up close to the blade because the blade won’t out your finger but still can pinch you and hurt you. It will also cut your fingernail.
- Use a crayon with a color that stands out against the color of the tile. The problem with using a pencil is that the water will wash the pencil mark and you’ll have to remeasure.
- After the cut–Remove the tile and turn off the saw. Don’t leave the Saw Blade running.
As with all electrical tools working next to or with water pay attention to where your hands and feet are and keep in mind that they don’t mix together and should be separated by a breaker. Read all directions on the box because all power tools are operated differently. On my last project, I used a Ridgid R4021SN 120-Volt 7 in. Tabletop Wet Tile Saw with Stand that was priced for a non-professional that does small tile work on the weekends that is priced for weekend warriors like myself.