Wet tile saws speed up your work rate and increase your efficiency, especially when you compare them to snap tile cutters. However, using wet saws is not simple and requires a degree of preparation and skill.
In this article, we show you how to use a wet tile saw to get the best possible outcomes, and improve your technique.
Wet Tile Saw Techniques
- Make sure you set up the saw.
- Fill the reservoir so the recirculating pump is submerged.
- Make sure you have goggles, ear defenders and a face mask.
- Make sure you have plastic floor coverings to catch excess water.
- Always use a GFCI power socket or extension cord.
- Line the tile to the blade.
How Does a Wet Saw Work?
A wet tile saw resembles a table saw, or a miter saw in many ways. It has the same dimensions and size, but that’s where the similarities end. A wet tile saw has an entirely different blade when compared to a standard saw. Unlike a miter saw blade that has teeth, a wet tile saw uses a diamond-encrusted disc that makes friction cuts through ceramics, porcelain and tiles.
As you might have guessed from the name, wet tile saws use a jet of water, either drawn from a reservoir in the saw or from a hose attachment that allows for a constant supply. The water cools the cutting disc and the material, allowing for better lubrication and dust removal.
Wet saws primarily come in two designs. The most commonly found wet saws in DIY settings look like table saws, with the diamond-crusted disc protruding through a slot in the table. This allows you to push the material towards the blade.
The other style of saw is a firm favorite with contractors and resembles a miter saw. These are generally more expensive because they are versatile and can cut angles, bevels, and straight lines.
What You Need
As with all tasks, you will need to prepare before undertaking the job. Here is a list of the supplies you will need:
- Wet tile saw.
- GFCI extension cord (if required).
- Plastic bucket.
- Plastic drop cloth.
- Marker pen or grease pencil.
You also need to consider personal safety.
- Eye goggles.
- Hearing protectors.
- Face mask.
How to Cut With a Wet Saw
Before you do anything, choose an area that is well lit and free from obstructions. Only use the saw if you have a flat, stable surface to work on, and protect the floor if necessary by laying plastic sheets down to avoid water damage.
1. Get the Saw Ready
Fill the water reservoir so that it covers the recirculating pump. If you need an extension cord, plug the saw into a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) extension cord and make sure that there is a drip loop in the cable. This allows the water to run away safely because the drip loop is lower than the socket.
2. Prepare for the Cut
Mark your line on the tile using a grease pencil or the fine marker. Adjust the saw fence to the same width of the cut you want. If you are cutting an angle, adjust the miter gauge to accommodate the angle you want.
Now place the tile on the table of the saw, pressing it against the fence or miter gauge. Make sure the tile is flush. Position the tile so that it aligns with the saw blade, and then draw it back so that it sits in front of the blade.
3. Put on Safety Equipment
Put on your goggles and ear defenders. Wet saws are noisy and messy. Also, unless you want a mouthful of water and grit, now would be a good time to put on your face mask.
4. Power Up
Turn on the saw and allow the cutting disc to reach its maximum speed. This prevents the tile from cracking and reduces the risk of kickback. Keep an eye on the water. It should be hitting the blade but not splashing too much. If you need to adjust the water flow, do so at this stage, following the manufacturer’s guidelines.
5. Cutting the Tile
Push the tile towards the blade, making sure that you apply slow and steady pressure. Hold the tile on both sides with each hand, but keep them well clear of the blade. Let the tile feed gradually as it passes through the blade, taking great care not to force it.
As the tile exits the blade, slow your rate of feed. This is where most cracks happen. Once the tile is clear of the cutting disc, turn off the saw and wait while the blade stops moving before removing the tile. Unplug the saw.
6. Keep the Water Clean
If you are making repeated cuts, check the water reservoir for sediment. If the water is cloudy, it needs to be replaced.
7. Remove Safety Gear
Take off your goggles and ear defenders and admire the quality of your work. Give yourself a pat on the back and a well-earned coffee break.
How to Clean a Wet Saw
Drain the water into a bucket and carefully remove all of the trays, dropping them into the bucket too. Wipe down the saw and blade with a sponge, and spray the fence and miter gauge clean.
Empty the bucket and sponge all the trays clean. Allow the saw to dry before reassembly.
Wet Tile Saw FAQs
How Do You Set a Wet Saw?
Water and electricity are not a great combination, so when you are connecting your wet saw to a water hose, make sure that the hose and saw are switched off. This prevents the saw from getting switched on by accident.
Set the power cord so it is away from the water as best you can. Wet saws create a lot of mess, and the floor and surrounding area will get wet.
If the saw doesn’t have a reservoir, it will likely have 2 connectors. One is an inlet and the other an outlet for the dirty water. Trailing a small hose to a bucket keeps the water spread to a minimum.
Can You Use a Wet Saw Without Water?
Using a wet saw without water is possible if you are cutting a small amount of tile, but prolonged use could damage the blade and cause the saw to overheat. You also increase the risk of cracking the tile. The best advice is to always use the saw for the intended purpose.
How Much Water Do You Put in a Wet Saw?
It depends on the capacity of the reservoir. Always fill it to the max line, or at least until the recirculating pump is submerged. Wet saws come in all shapes and sizes, so the capacity varies enormously.
Can You Use a Wet Saw as a Table Saw?
You can’t use a wet saw as a table saw because the blade is specially designed to cut brittle surfaces like tile and ceramics. The blade has no teeth and will not cut materials like metal and wood.
Also, tile saw blades spin in the opposite direction to table saws. To cut wood, you would need to feed the stock from the rear of the blade. This is completely impractical.
Cut and Not Dry
You don’t need a wet saw to cut tiles, but it does make the whole process easier. If you are taking on a large project, then a wet tile saw would be a wise investment. It will increase your accuracy, speed up your work rate, and ultimately save you money in broken tiles.
If you haven’t tried a wet saw yet, what are you waiting for?