Pencil It In
For simple, straight ceramic tile cuts, a carbide-tipped pencil does the trick. This method might get tiring for large-scale tile jobs, but it comes in handy for basic DIY projects. To get started, grab a carbide-tipped pencil and a straightedge, such as a speed square, from your local hardware store.
Place the tile on a stable, flat cutting surface. Position your straightedge as desired, and hold it securely in place, applying ample pressure.
With moderate downward pressure, drag the carbide-tipped pencil along the straightedge, across the length of the tile, to make your cut. Quickly repeat the cut, making a few drags across the tile, to create a scored line.
Turn the pencil around and fit the scored edge of the tile into the attached clamp. Hold the tile tightly with your other hand and press the pencil downward to snap off the scored part of the tile.
Sand the edge smooth with a medium-grit rubbing stone.
You can also use tile nippers to snap the scored tile, as a stronger alternative to the pencil.
Reserve this cutting method for ceramic tile. Other types of tile and flooring -- including brick, cement, terra-cotta and porcelain -- require a wet saw.
Getting Wet and Other Options
For larger jobs, or situations in which you have to create notches in your ceramic tile, a wet tile saw is your best bet. Rather than investing in a tool that you might only use once, check your local home improvement center for rental availability.
Once you've marked your cuts, using a wet saw is closely akin to using a table saw. After aligning your marks with the blade, carefully slide it forward to make your cuts. Avoid pushing the tile into the blade; be gentle and let the blade do the work for you for the smoothest cut.
If you have to cut a circle in your ceramic tile, turn to a hole saw of the desired size, which attaches to your electric drill. Tungsten-rimmed hole saws with a carbide-tipped pilot bit work well for cutting ceramic tile. To make your cut, clamp the tile, place the bit in the center of your soon-to-be-hole and then drill, applying stable downward pressure.