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Old 10-19-2005, 07:47 PM   #6
Mike2
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: LaConner, Washington
Posts: 13,694
Cutting tiles diagonally with a small saw (Felker TM-75)

We frequently get questions from members on how to go about cutting 12” and 13” tiles diagonally using a small saw like my personal favorite, the Felker TM-75.

This thread with lots of pichers (that’s how the Texan’s round here spelt pictures BTW ) is intended to address those question and perhaps even provide some usefull tips to those who have done this before but have not quite mastered the technique. There are indeed other ways of doing this but I will present this method for purposes of this article. Keeping the techniques easy to describe and straight forward is the goal here.

Step 1 - Marking the tile(s)

If you plan to use 1/8” or wider spacing, perfect alignment won't happen if you simply cut the tile in half (see footnote, bottom of thread). Assuming you want to bring the full points on whole tiles flush with the cut edge on adjacent half tiles, you must account for the grout spacing when cutting tile’s diagonally. I won’t go into the mathematics and what Pythagoras had to say about all this, just trust me. Or ask one of the kids, they will tell you all about it.

In this case I plan to use 3/16” spacing so I’ll take one of those spacers, center it over the points and make a mark, 3/16” wide on both sides of the spacer, at each end.



Next, draw two connecting lines all the way down the tile using a straight edge. Or better yet take some tape, place it about ¾ of the way down and make your marks on the tape alone.



At this point you should have two marks at the opposing ends of the tile and two on the tape. You will be cutting along these marks.



Step 2 - Alignment of the tile for cutting

There are a number of ways to do this but personally I think the following method is easiest to demonstrate. You need a measuring device, in this case a sliding square. Place the heel of the square against the end of the cart fence and slide the straight end out until it “kisses” the blade, then lock into place. You now know exactly where the cut will be as measured from the right hand side of the cart.



Place the marked tile on the cart and align it such that the blade meets the inside of the right-hand mark at the tile’s point, while at the same time the mark on the tape is aligned to the sliding square.



Now you are ready to turn the saw on and cut. Options however at this point include clamping the tile to the cart or placing the miter guide on the fence (if there is room) just to add some stability. As you build experience cutting tiles this way you may not need to do any of these “extras” but to begin with, you might give them a try.



Step 3 – Cutting the tile

Power on the saw, hold the tile to the cart fence with both hands push it through until the blade reaches the mark on the tape. Turn the saw off, slide the cart back and take a deep breath. Congratulations, the hard part is over.



Rotate the tile 180 deg. and again align the inside of the mark with the blade



while at the same time aligning the previously cut line to the square.



Power on the saw, hold the tile to the back cart fence with both hands and complete the cut.



Now we need to trim the other half (left side) of the tile. If you used tape for your marks it most likely came off so apply a new piece and mark again using the straight edge.



Align the marks as in the previous steps


Power on the saw, cut to tape mark and power it down.



This time to finish the cut you do not need to flip the tile over. Simply push it forward completely onto the cart, align the blade into the cut and the mark on the end with the sliding square,




power the saw back on and complete the cut.




Step 4 – Finish the edges and set

One last housekeeping chore is to dress down those sharp cut edges. There are many ways to accomplish this: hand stones in the 80 grit range, 80 + grit sandpaper using either hand or power tools, or go for it with a wet polisher and an 80 grit + diamond pad.



Once that is complete, put it altogether and you are good to go.







P.S.: Cutting 16” tiles diagonally

Another member asked if it was possible to cut 16” tiles diagonally on a TM-75 saw. Let’s see……….

Mark your tiles as before except this time I will demonstrate making just one cut (no spacing allowance taken) right down the middle.

With 16” tiles it’s easier if you use the sliding square from the left side of the cart. This time I will use a previously cut scrap piece to center the square with the middle of the blade.



Line up the marked tile, centering one tip to the blade, while at the same time centering the pencil mark on the tape to the square.



Power on the saw and while holding the tile with both hands to the cart fence, push it through to the mark.



Power off the saw, flip the tile around and repeat the alignment process.



Finish the final cut.



Dress down the sharp cut edges and you are good to go.



I find it almost as easy to cut 16” tiles diagonally on this particular saw as it is 12 and 13-inch tiles.




P.S. #2 - Cutting 18 inch or larger tiles.

Lately there have been a number of questions as to if the TM-75 can cut an 18" tile in half. For straight cuts the short answer is No. But it's a qualified No.

There is 8" of clearance between the blade and the upright motor support post.



Thus, only an 8" cut off a large tile can be made. Two cuts would be necessary to cut an 18" tile in half, but then of course you only end up with one useable half.

For cutting 18" tile diagonally in half, the answer is Yes. That can be done. However proper alignment gets a little tricky with 18" plus tiles because the entire top of the back fence is covered. An alignment device other than a sliding square must be used. One capable of reaching underneath the tile to rest against the end of the cart fence.

I have made one of those measuring devices but I think I will declare all that real tricky cutting business outside the scope and intent of this article. Keeping it easy and straight forward is the goal here. And I think once you actually try some of these techniques you will find they are indeed easy to master.




P.S. #3 - And finally, the blade

Every tile in this article is very hard porcelain and was cut using the MK 225 Hot Dog blade.







Footnotes:

Since writing the original article I have received a number of requests to further explain the difference between simply cutting the tiles in half (one cut) versus removing the space allowance from the center which requires two marks and two cuts. What would the tiles look like with and without this spacing allowance removed you have asked.

I think by far the easiest way to explain all this is by simply posting a side-by-side picture comparison. The left hand column below depicts tiles simply cut in half, one cut right down the middle with no allowance removed for spacing. The corresponding tile to the right has been double cut with the spacing allowance removed. Actual examples shown (as marked) are for 3/16”, ¼”, 3/8” and ½” spacing.



The choice is yours to make:

If you find the point-to-cut-edge alignment depicted on the left more appealing then you only need one cut, right down the diagonal middle of the tile.

Here then is the difference in mechanics - Only one mark on the tile is necessary and this mark is then aligned to the center of the saw blade. Adjust the sliding square so that it lines up with the center of the blade as opposed to “kissing” the side of the blade as previously discussed. Alternatively one could partially cut into a scrap piece of tile and then align the sliding square to the center of this scrap cut.


After completing the single cut you are finished except for the dressing down step to remove the sharp sawn edges
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