Just about all tile installations will require cutting. However, you don’t necessarily need to purchase a tile saw if you will be completing the project yourself. For jobs which won’t demand an extremely large quantity of cuts or very heavy tile, a tile cutter can be an excellent choice.
A cutter is an easy to use device that is meant for making straight and angled cuts on light to medium weight tiles. However, they are not made to perform curved or corner cuts. Because they are usually inexpensive, quiet to operate along with being a cinch to carry or move around the room when working, they are always convenient to have on site.
Since they aren’t a power tool you will also see them sold and referred to as manual tile cutters or even cutting boards. Sizes can vary from compact to fairly large models that are able to cut very big and thick tiles. If you are purchasing one for an upcoming job be sure to choose a cutter that can handle the largest cuts you will have to make.
How They Work
There are a few different types, but all work the same basic way and have similar parts. Typically they are made up of a frame for supporting the tile; a carbide wheel which slides over the tile scoring its surface in a straight line, and a breaker bar with a handle that puts pressure on the tile snapping it into two pieces along that line. Since they technically snap tiles instead of cutting them they are often also commonly called snap cutters.
Using A Tile Cutter
Before cutting or snapping you’ll need to start by drawing a cutting line on your tile. Using a felt tipped pen with a fine point is best but a pencil will work too. Then you’ll want to place the individual tile on the cutter so that it is against the bottom edge. Align the cutting wheel with the line you have marked to cut.
While holding the tile in place with one hand pull or push the handle down so that wheel puts pressure on the tile with your other. Draw the wheel over the entire length of the tile’s surface to score it lightly and evenly. Scoring it only once as opposed to multiple times will help to make sure you get a clean cut.
Next grab the bar and the handle, and press downward in a quick movement to snap the tile in two. Simply repeat this process for each tile you have to cut to size. After cutting though, it is always a good idea to use a rubbing stone held at a downward angle to dull the edge of the tile. Edges can be razor sharp and using a stone will help prevent injuries but also improve the appearance and smooth out small irregularities on too.
It’s as easy as that! For both floor and wall tiles a tile cutter can help you to complete your project with as little hassle as possible. If straight cuts are what you need, going simple can often be the best option.
Extra Tile Cutter Tips
-For much smoother action try adding oil to the rails of your cutter before you begin. By moving the breaker bar back and forth immediately afterwards you can help to distribute the oil evenly.
-If you are having problems with tiles not snapping cleanly or with breakage try initially scoring the tile with more strength. You may also want to apply a little more or even less pressure when snapping. If these fail to work replacing the cutting wheel will most likely remedy the solution.
-When cutting glazed tile, sometimes there will be metal marks left on the finish. A simple way to prevent this is by placing a thin sheet of paper on top of the tile before attempting to snap it. Cardboard can be used as a substitute if you don’t have any paper on hand.
-Don’t forget you can also use these for cutting some trim tiles too.
-You don’t need to throw away, improperly scored tiles. Saving them for smaller sized cuts instead can save you a few bucks.
-For faster cuts of the same exact size be sure to screw or tighten the cutting fence in place.
-And like with other tools it’s always a good idea to practice first, which you can do on some scrap tile to gain experience.
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