Tile cutter buying guide
Lucas, Antique wood-worker, Gloucester27 guides
What tools can you get for tile cutting?
- Electric (bench-mounted);
Is a manual cutter sufficient for my needs?
The length determines the cutting capacity. This ranges from 30cm to over 120cm. Cutting width is smaller - this serves to stabilize the mechanism and hence improve the cut. Handy tip: since the diagonal is always greater than the length, make a careful note of the relevant tile dimensions if you're planning to lay at 45°!
The wheel, in tungsten carbide or titanium carbide (for increased durability), has a diameter ranging from 6-22mm - dictating maximum tile thickness. Some models let you easily change the diameter of the wheel according to the tile you're working with - pretty practical! After all, it's hard work getting through a tile 15mm thick with a cutting wheel that's only 6mm wide...
The rails are used to move the wheel. Two rails give better cutting precision and robustness.
The separator may be fixed or mobile. A fixed separator saves time because there's no need to reposition it after every pass of the wheel. However, 45° cuts are restricted due to lack of purchase and hence cutting force... It's up to you! Cutting force can exceed one ton, but 500 kg is more than enough for both ceramic and solid stone of limited thickness.
Some models come with accessories such as side stops and a gradated guide to facilitate adjustment or high-volume work. The guide can be adjusted to 45° on some models. Millimetre-accuracy stops are also very useful!
Pros & cons
The pros are that it doesn't produce much dust and it's lightweight enough to carry it around onsite.
Choosing an electric tile cutter
Here the cutting is carried out by a diamond disc, often water-cooled, by abrading the tile.
The power of the motor, from 400 to over 900W, influences possible tile thickness. A 600W machine is pretty versatile. Larger professional models can cut deeper than 40mm.
In terms of comfort, a removable side guide (adjustable through a range of angles) and additional stops are highly practical. A protective cover is essential for safety. The cutting surface can be tilted for bevel cuts; a bench extension is useful for cutting large widths. Their very manageable weight (15kg on average) makes these machines a practical choice.
Since no tool is ever perfect, there are some downsides: despite the water-cooling, these machines make a lot of dust and are noisy to run. Cutting takes more time than with a manual cutter... And watch your fingers!
Radial saw for large jobs
With this machine, versatility is the order of the day! Moving against a guide, a water-cooled diamond disc cuts the tile, which stays clamped in position. Can go up to 1500mm cutting length - this and its power (high-end models get close to 2200W) make it the ideal tool for the professional tiler.
Which cutter for which use?
Small-scale tiling work
If you want to put 2m² of ceramic tiles up in your kitchen, there's no need for a radial saw! A manual cutter will do perfectly for all your small-scale tiling work.
An electric cutter is a smart investment because of the variety of options it gives you. Weigh it up against the purse strings!
Construction site use
Finally, if you're aiming to tile huge areas, a bona fide professional working with tile 40mm thick, a radial saw is totally justified!
One last suggestion: artisans often have both a manual and an electric cutter, to cover almost all situations... Worth considering if you're not sure!
Lucas, Antique wood-worker, Gloucester 27 guides écrits
After a few years plying my trade in the construction industry, I decided it was time to get my national vocational qualification (NVQ) in carpentry. Although I enjoyed doing everything from renovations and painting to flooring and tiles, I found my true passion lay in working on a timber frame or designing a wooden house.
Everything about woodworking fascinates me. In fact, my dream is to one day build my own house in wood!
I’m also really into learning about new building techniques and tools: I stay up on all the latest innovations and tips and tricks, and spend a lot of my free time researching the performance of each new tool on the market, whether it’s for woodworking or some other building material. I'd be happy to put my knowledge to use by advising you and helping you with your choices.
Happy DIYing, everyone!
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