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Unread 01-08-2006, 08:52 AM   #1
keeferb
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cheap saw = poor cut???

Hi all,

So I'm ready to start tackling our fireplace/tub surround tiling projects. I've made all my measurements and figured out what tiles I need to cut. We are using a ceramic tile around the fireplace and porcelain in the tub. My brother-in-law gave me his $80 Plasplugs wet saw to use. I cut a few of the ceramics but noticed the cut edge is really rough. I've never tiled before but I have to believe this edge is noticeable after grouting. In addition, when I got to the end of the cut the tile always broke away before I could finish the cut. If it broke on the scrap piece - no big deal. But if it broke off the good piece that piece is ruined. I thought maybe the saw had a dull blade so I figured I'd just buy a new saw. I bought the Menards brand saw for $70 because they didn't have the Plasplugs in stock. Same result...rough cut. I've searched the threads here and it seems these cheap saws are recommended for the DIYer on a budget. But do the budget saws come with a budget cut?

My other options are to 1) buy a snap cutter but I'm not sure how well these work on porcelain or 2) rent a 'good' wet saw from the local rental shop for $50 per 4 hours.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Keith
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Unread 01-08-2006, 09:17 AM   #2
Shaughnn
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Hi Keith and welcome aboard,
The Plasplug saw you have cuts from underneath the material, correct? This means that the blade is "breaking"' through the glaze instead of cutting through it. Sometimes this can be minimized by flipping the tile upside-down and placing the glazed side on the table surface? Also, buying a tile dressing stone will allow you to clean up your cut edges a bit more. You can find a dressing stone amoung the other tile tools at any home improvement store and it should be under $10. The chipping out might be taken care of by flipping the tile but you should make sure that the table is rinsed clear of debris before every cut also. It sometimes helps prevent chipping out by applying equal and even pressure to both sides of a cut as it goes through the blade. Since the chipping is caused by a build up of tension released through the weakest portion of the material, providing counter-pressure can work on some materials. Chipping out is also common in tile which is "cupped" or out-of-plane as this can focus the above mentioned tension instead of allowing it to distribute through the entire material. Flipping the tile can reduce this effect also.
Best of luck,
Shaughnn.
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Unread 01-08-2006, 12:11 PM   #3
muskymike
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Hi Kieth, IMO all those saws are good for is backslpashes, I know cuz I have one and that's all I use it for. You are better off renting the big saw if you are going to have exposed cuts.
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Unread 01-08-2006, 12:15 PM   #4
keeferb
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Thanks for the info Shaughnn. I was hoping you were correct on the cutting direction but I went and checked the saw and it cuts down on the tile as you push it into the 4" blade. Would buying a high quality blade make any difference?

As far as the chipping out at the end of the cut, I sort of figured it was do to inconsistent pressure somewhere but couldn't seem to correct it. I could try cutting the tile upside down to see if that makes any difference. The other thing I thought of trying was to use a thin scrap piece of tile behind the good piece so that there's equal pressure across. I've had success doing that with wood on a table saw but I'm not sure if tile reacts the same way.
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Unread 01-08-2006, 12:23 PM   #5
DonB
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Keith, one thing you may try that could possibly help with chip-out is covering your anticipated cut with masking tape.

Don
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Unread 01-08-2006, 01:30 PM   #6
keeferb
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Don, I tried that with no success. The tape always came loose because of the water from the blade. The time it did stick it didn't seem to make any difference.

Thanks for the suggestion though!
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Unread 01-08-2006, 02:35 PM   #7
DonB
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Keith,

Depending on your tile, you may need the wide stuff or the blue stuff or secure it it in place with your thumbs. I've had success with the narrow stuff but I've only used it in small areas that need tricky, thin cuts. It seems to help. It's basically a fracture control method I learned a long time ago for cutting fluorite and other delicate mineral materials. If it gets to be a big, expensive problem you can also try coating the projected cut lines with Opticon.

I've been using a 7" saw that is so cheap it was thrown away. I rescued it and put it back together. I started using it for the convenience of not having to move my big 10" saw up here to where I'm doing my tile work. Even though the table is warped and I'm using the original blade, it has been doing just fine. I dress cut edges that will be exposed with a diamond wheel anyway just to remove the sharpness. The quality of the cut is not necessarily proportional to the value of the saw.

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