Tools for Cutting Ceramic Tile

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Tile saws are only one of many types of tools used for cutting ceramic tile.
Tile saws are only one of many types of tools used for cutting ceramic tile. (Image: spinning-saw image by sumos from Fotolia.com)

If you are planning on laying ceramic tiles--whether it be for remodeling a kitchen or for installing new walls in your shower--then you're going to need the right tools for the job. This includes tools for cutting the tiles, because there are few things more annoying than getting your tile design looking just the way you want it, then discovering you do not have the correct tools to cut the tile into the shape you need.

Wet Tile Saw

Diamond-bladed wet saws are usually the first and best choice when it comes to cutting ceramic tile. They function much like their wood-cutting brethren, having a circular blade that is lowered onto the tile in order to make the cut. There are a few key differences, the most obvious of which is the fact that the wet saw actively draws water up from a tray beneath the saw and sprays it onto the blade as it cuts. This is to prevent overheating as the blade cuts through the tile. Tile saw blades are different as well in that they lack the cutting teeth of a wood saw, and instead cut through the tile with what is essentially a high-speed abrasion as it is lowered onto the tile.

Tile Cutters

Tile cutters are essentially heavy-duty glass cutters. The tile is placed on a pad underneath the cutter and guide-bar, and then the user simply presses the cutter-arm down and works it back and forth over the tile until the cutting blade has sliced all the way through the tile. Tile cutters are not the best choice of tool if you are planning on cutting a lot of tile, or if the tile you need to cut is thicker than 5/8 of an inch, as that is the limit of most tile cutters. However, if you only need to cut a few tiles in order to get the design you need, a tile cutter is not a bad investment.

Tile Nippers

Imagine a pair of pliers wedded to a set of miniature bolt cutters, and you've pretty much got the picture of what tile nippers look like. Tile nippers have a set of heavy carbide jaws that are designed to "bite" off chunks of ceramic tile. Nippers are typically used to make soft curves in a tile, or for removing jagged edges from the tile. The disadvantages of nippers are that they are incapable of making the smooth cuts that a tile saw or cutter might and that they are hand-operated. This means that if you plan on cutting a lot of tile with the nippers, you're going to need either a lot of breaks, or a truly impressive amount of hand strength.

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