Tile Nippers [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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11-22-2007, 01:41 PM
I need a new pair and would like to hear what y'all like best. :)

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11-22-2007, 02:02 PM
I really like the Cresent-brand of tile nippers. They may not fit your "delicate" hands though. :yeah:

Contractor's Direct (http://www.contractorsdirect.com/Crescent-Diamond-Tile-Nippers)

11-22-2007, 02:47 PM
I tried the Custom Brand Platinum nipper and thought they were pretty nice, good for delicate hands too. :stick: I don't use nippers enough to justify anything expensive. I bought a pair that looked kind of like the platinum ones at Lowes. Works for me.


11-22-2007, 03:06 PM
i like the green superiors but those cresents are sposed to be the best

11-22-2007, 05:02 PM
To be honest .. I actually have a pair of KOBALT (Lowes Brand) tile nippers, had them for about 3 years now and still working great. I've used others that aren't as comfortable but lets be honest.. they all pretty much do the same exact thing.

11-22-2007, 05:06 PM
They're called Superior for a reason.
The head also seems a touch smaller than normal to fit into smaller holes when necessary.
Also they come in a box; not a plastic shell.

11-22-2007, 05:16 PM
I've been using the same pair of green superiors for years, they seem to last forever, I have a brand new pair in my tool box that have just been sitting for years. Then again I don't use them much

11-22-2007, 05:41 PM
I use the green Superiors too. Only prollem is that you can't nip tile skinnier than an 1/8". Atleast with mine. :shrug:

11-22-2007, 06:15 PM
Have two pair of those green Superiors (I think they're Superior, for sure they're green :D ), one of which has the little stops ground down so's to make'em nip thin stuff. Learnt that from my old tile guy many years ago.

Suitable for even CT size hands, too. :)

Bill Vincent
11-22-2007, 08:39 PM
For me, it's the green handled Superior nippers or nothing!! :) Since I was an apprentice, I was always told that premium tools were the sign of a master craftsman, and the Superior snips were the best. Although they're still top of the line, it used to be that they had several different snips-- they had pairs that the jaws were only 3/8" for making tight radius cuts (they were terrific for cutting switches and outlets out of 4 1/4's), pairs that closed down to about 1/16" for ceramic mosiacs, others that only closed down to 1/4" for quarry tile. That all changed with the advent of dry diamond blades in the mid 80's. I'm just glad they still make the one pair that they do!

11-22-2007, 08:41 PM
I have about 5 pairs of cresent. 2 are still in the box. They are they best by far.

11-22-2007, 10:03 PM
Green Superiors for me also.Use one for harder tile and another for the thinner wall tile and have 2 waiting in the wings.

11-22-2007, 11:35 PM
i have both the red cresents and the new platnum brand both r great i use the cresents daily and the plantnums for the harder tiles really easy to use on porceleantile

central ca

11-22-2007, 11:37 PM
You all are the best! Thanks! :)

11-22-2007, 11:49 PM
Hey Bill V,
I have the same, one Superior for mosaic/wall tile and one for my quarry.

do you remember or use the quarry chipping hammer ?

Tile Machine
11-23-2007, 04:51 AM
I am with scuttlebuttrp. Superior are good but....I just LOVE :crazy: the box!

Bill Vincent
11-23-2007, 08:27 AM
do you remember or use the quarry chipping hammer ?

Yeah, I do remember. I was able to rough "cut" with it, but I never did get good enough with it to get down to fine "cutting" with it. I watched the guy who taught me the trade, though, take one of those mini chipping hammers and cut a perfect fit in quarry tile around a round electrical floor box where more than half the box was in the one tile. I saw him this past summer when I was working down in Connecticut, and he still breaks my balls because I never learned how to use it properly. :)

11-23-2007, 10:10 PM
had a plumber ask me wednesday if i had a tile hammer i was like huh?? and they he said something to my boss and my boss said they are for quarry tile! thats amazing....

11-23-2007, 10:25 PM
You got any idea where I could find a chipping hammer like that. My interest is piqued and I'd like to try to learn the technique. Never had an opportunity for first-hand experience.

Bill Vincent
11-23-2007, 11:17 PM
Shaughnn, I just looked. Even Gundlach, who usually has every tool in the (old school) book, has apparently taken it out of its inventory. If you can find it, it basically looks like a bricky's hammer that's been shrunk way down in the wash. I'd say the head on it doesn't go more than about 4-5 ounces., and probably about 4-5 inches, chisel end to square head.

11-24-2007, 09:25 AM
You can still find them in the UK but i havent seen the smaller sizes, Only the larger 20 Oz


I have a 14 oz/ 5/8" head handed down to me LONGgggggggggggggggggggg ago.

I havent used it for Eons and like Bill, never really mastered the tool.
Mine woulda been better if it had a carbide chisel edge. Guys always sharpened these 2-3 x per day with a couple file strokes and rebevelled them 1x per week if they saw alot of use (according to the guy who gave it too me)

They'll be a collectors item soom.
Why use one when a grinder or lil 35# saw will make a faster more precise job of it??
They never were fast, They were Just faster than running down 3 flights of stairs to the big ol Target sitting on the ground floor ;)

Bill Vincent
11-24-2007, 09:39 AM
When there WAS a Target sitting on the first floor. Except on stone jobs, the only cutting tools that got brought to the job when I first started were a Superior 8" cutter, a pair of SUperior green handled snips, and that little chipping hammer. That was it. As for the grinder making the hammer obsolete, it's doing the same thing to a pair of snips. Just before I quit working for the last guy I was on payroll for, we were working on a school job, doing the bathrooms and locker rooms. This one particular day, a dump truck delivering fill caught the body of the truck on overhead electrical wires, and we ended up losing power. We were in an area that had plenty of natural light, but the grinder was done for the day. The other mechanic and our helper, started picking everything up to leave, and I asked them where they thought they were going. The other mechanic (a young kid in his 20's), looked at me and asked how I though we were going to be able to make cuts without the grinder, so I picked up a pair of snips. This little ballsy SOB had the gaul to laugh at me!! NO WAY, he says!! He then went about marking out the next light switch cut, which, of course was a nice deep "U" cut. This punk was stupid enough to bet me 20.00 that I couldn't make the cut with snips. Five minutes later, I was 20.00 richer, and we went back to work.

I relate this story to illustrate that while yes, the grinder DOES make our job much easier, it's taking the craft out of the trade, and that sucks.

11-24-2007, 09:40 AM
Mmmmm, I've known plenty old tile guys (I even know John Bridge :D ) but I've never seen/heard of a tile cutting hammer.

The picher in Todd's link is similar to what every rock man has as one of his total of two tools, and I've got a couple of those hammers in my array. But have never seen a little bitty version of one and wouldn't have know what it was for if I had seen one. :shrug:

Chris the Rep
11-24-2007, 09:56 AM
Yes Bill, I agree about certain aspects of the craft disappearing.

In addition to a chipping hammer, who learned to use a clamping/breaking frame for 4 1/4" wall tiles?


Bill Vincent
11-24-2007, 10:07 AM
cx-- I wish to hell I could find one to show you. I guess they've already gone the route of the dinosaur. :shake:

Speakin of which-- John, any chance you've got one you could show cx? :yeah:

did I say that outloud???

Chris-- I've SEEN one, does that count? :D

11-24-2007, 10:51 AM
I swear I saw a clamping frame and a chipping hammer in a catalog just recently. I will have to do some looking. Thought about buying them just to say I had them, then I thought a new grinder blade would be better. ;)

I will look around.

11-24-2007, 03:10 PM
My old boss had one of those little hammers, and that clamping thing. It was like a vice. You screwed down two sides to compress the edges of the tile tightly and then used the hammer to poke a hole into your wall tile. He showed us once how to use it and then we picked up the grinder and went back to work. Have no idea what happened with his tools after he passed. I assume his one son has those now.

Someone also mentioned a bunch of different superior nippers and they couldn't find them anymore? The guy here in Jax that I buy mine from alawys seemed to have a few different ones. When I go in there I have to take my old pair in with me to show him which ones I want. So I think they do still make them; or this guy has some really old stock.

Bill Vincent
11-24-2007, 03:32 PM
A little bit ago, when I answered cx's post, I also found a site which still carries all the different kinds. All except the ones with the 3/8" jaws. The smallest they have now is 1/2".

11-24-2007, 03:39 PM
I just searched on yahoo and found a place called the craft tool company in Kansas. They list a bunch of different nippers including the one with an 1/8" opening, convex jaws, 5/8",and 1/2" etc...
They also sell 8 oz. tile hammers with a 5/8" face. I think that might be the little bitty hammers.
Also listed the best in the world :D superior cutters and sands levels.( my superior piano cutter can beat any clinker any day of the week)
I think the address is

11-24-2007, 05:29 PM
using a tile hammer is definitely old school.
the old Italian guys who taught me in Philly used to chip out a circle for the drains in restaurants when we did them faster then I could cut lines and then nip it out of the quarry. doubt you can use them for much more.

I learned it and used it years ago, but since I nave my 4" grinder I can blast a drain cut out in 1 minute.

Tile hammer link (

Shaughnn, I know that Dal & AO sales service centers used to sell them and have them hanging on the tool wall. who knows now. buying online is probably easier and faster then looking and calling around.

Brad Denny
11-24-2007, 05:39 PM
I have a hammer and frame at the shop that I use very rarely. I'll take a picture Mon and post a pic. :nod: My grandfather (boss) learned the trade from Italians that brought the trade to Nashville. I do think I've seen a set up for sell by Rubi, though.

Bill Vincent
11-24-2007, 06:05 PM
That's the baby!!

cx, now ya gotcher picher!! :D

I think I'm gonna buy me a Chrimmus present, an' learn howta use it!!

John Bridge
11-24-2007, 06:29 PM
Bill, you callin' me a dinosaur? You wait till I catch up to you the next time. I'll dinosaur you.


I saw my good friend Michael Byrne using a full-size chipping hammer on a ceramic bench he was tiling down at Coverings several years ago. He was using it to chip unwanted concrete off the bench. Ever since I've figured that's what it was for. Not. :)



11-24-2007, 06:39 PM
hey Bill,

I'll give you a head start on your learning.

when (chip) hammering quarry, take some chips off the bottom of the tile first,
then (chip) hammer some off the top, working back and forth inside the area you want out.
in a pattern as you would do nippers so it wont break when taking too much off.

you just cant chip away at the top or you will certainly break them all. ;)

Bill Vincent
11-24-2007, 08:46 PM
Bill, you callin' me a dinosaur? You wait till I catch up to you the next time. I'll dinosaur you.

You're the one came up with the pic of someone with the hammer in their hand, right? :moon: :yeah:

Brian-- I know that much. I was with that hammer like alot of people starting out today are with snips. I could always chip a cut back to the point where it was close to finished. ALWAYS those last few taps that'd put the tile into the dumpster!! :scratch:

11-24-2007, 09:14 PM
I used to consider myself a master of the nippers. They hardly come out
of the box anymore. When they do it is rare. I used to make drain cuts
with them,sink cutouts... the radius around a tub flange to leg.
Since then ive found it just as fast and less risky on the saw. Last
time i pulled them out was last week. Found a chip in a cut tile right before
grouting. Instead of setting up the saw i grabbed the trusty nippers and
dusted off those rusty strings and made em shine again :D Those would
be the yellow handled superiors :tup2: Luckily the tile was glazed saltillo
and it wasn't hard to feel like i was still on top of my old nipper game ;)
In the day i used to like the "twist and shave" for the radius cuts. Its
not a break, but more of a grind. Practice that Marge and you will get
some nice looking nipper cuts. :goodluck:

Tool Guy - Kg
11-24-2007, 09:16 PM
I gave away my nippers. :cry:

11-24-2007, 09:18 PM
They hardly come out of the box anymore
Mine too. Don't use em like I usta.
I gave away my nippers.
Yeah to me! :dance:

Tool Guy - Kg
11-24-2007, 09:27 PM
:D :nod:

Bill Vincent
11-24-2007, 09:32 PM
They hardly come out
of the box anymore. When they do it is rare. I used to make drain cuts
with them,sink cutouts... the radius around a tub flange to leg.

Whether or not I use them depends on whether Adam's running cuts for me, or if I have to get up off my lard a$$ and do it!! I've found that especially if I'm cutting in something like a toilet flange, I can give Adam one of the cuts, and nip out the other one right there, and it'll take just as long for him to run outside and cut his piece as it does for me to nip mine right there. One way or the other, when it comes time for the shower floor, it ALWAYS gets nipped out.

Besides, I'm a "little egocentric" about how good I am with them, and I want to STAY that good, so long as I don't lose alot of time doing it!!

11-24-2007, 09:39 PM
when it comes time for the shower floor, it ALWAYS gets nipped out. Not any more fer me now that I use Kerdi. With the square drain there's no need. :)

Brad Denny
11-24-2007, 10:20 PM
I like to nip any radius with the Platinum round heads (have helper cut out as much straight stuff leaving "piano keys" to break off), straight nips on hard stuff with some 20 year old Crescents, and for 4 1/4" or soft stuff Superior straight heads. The angle on the Superior's carbide seems better for nippin' off the lugs when things get a little "tight" :yeah:, but I have trouble with 'em chippin' (the carbide) on hard materials. A tile setter that was partners with my grandfather in the 60's passed away not too long ago and his estate was auctioned off. We bought an old mud box (4'x6'x a ton :D) full of his old tools. I found the Crescents referred to above and they've become a standard in my arsenal. :tup1:

11-25-2007, 09:57 AM
We used to use the tile hammer to back out the bottom edge of 4-1/4s when installing over a cast iron tub when it stuck out to far. My old boss still lugs his in his tool bucket. It seems 4X4s used to be a lot harder and it was easier to chip out the edge.


John Bridge
11-25-2007, 10:04 AM
I've always used nippers, but since I've gone solo I use them a lot more. I think they are particularly useful for making doorway cuts that won't been seen under the jamb and casing. You saw a few kerfs into the L or U, knock the waste out and finish with the biters. You can do shallow hidden cuts with the biters in the time it takes you to get up off your knees and head for the saw, especially when your knees have been in service for thirty or forty years. :)

11-25-2007, 10:06 AM
I should have asked if there is anywhere in particular y'all suggest to buy these nippers? :)

11-25-2007, 10:21 AM
same here. I cut all my toilet cuts, door jambs, etc with my 4" grinder that can be seen.
then if I come back in and they are a little bit off, I just reach into the bucket
for the nippers and nip more off to fit.

irish tileguy in michigan
11-25-2007, 10:36 AM
wouldn;t live without them, one of the first things i pull out
20 years ago our boss would not give us the wet saw he made us snip everything(when i was an apprentice) told us we would thank him later.
depending on the cut ill use them today before i run to the wet saw, make my helper do the same thing and tell him "he'll thank me later"
my opinion is an apprentice has got to master the snips just like i had too

11-25-2007, 10:37 AM
Morning Marge,I get mine from one of the local tile stores.

11-25-2007, 10:54 AM
Steve "irish tileguy in michigan",

your right , mastering the nips is a good thing for a helper.
you think if he cuts a tile and it whips or he needs to make it smaller,
a helper with no knowledge of the nips will waste time cutting a new
one and waste the tile.

10 wasted tile and an hour of his time is easily $40-$50 a day.