Anyone who has had to cut tiles with a hand-held tile cutter or grinder knows that this is not an easy task. In such conditions, even with certain skills and dexterity, it will not be possible to do without marriage at all: either a chip is formed, then in general a crack will go to the side. When working, especially with expensive imported tiles, which cost several thousand apiece, these disadvantages are unacceptable. This requires a specialized tool – an electric tile cutter. What it is, what features it has and what to look for when choosing – in our guide.
What is an electric cutter?
Cutting tiles with a grinder with a diamond disc is not difficult, it is difficult to achieve a high-quality cut – the slightest change in the inclination of the disc leads to chips. To make the cut even, the disc should be fixed on the bed and equipped with a water bath – a “wet” cut is better than a “dry” one. This is how a simple tile cutting machine is obtained – an electric cutter.
For a simple medium-sized tile, this is enough. The larger and more expensive the tiles are, the higher the requirements for the quality of the seam, the more technical devices the electric cutter “overgrows” with. Therefore, before buying it, you should decide what kind of tile you plan to cut. The characteristics of the electric cutter you need will depend on the maximum dimensions, thickness, material of the intended tile.
Design features of electric cutters
Manual electric cutters
In appearance and structurally, they are close to circular saws, only instead of a toothed saw blade, a diamond one is fixed (therefore, they are sometimes called diamond saws). They are used for small work on trimming tiles, cutting grooves and holes, etc. It is almost as difficult to make a direct high-quality cut with a manual electric cutter as with a grinder.
Simple bottom engine design. The motor is fixed under the platform, the tiles move along the platform, manually guided. Simple, compact and inexpensive design that can provideacceptable cut quality for small tiles. With an increase in the size of the processed elements, it is more difficult to maintain the cut quality – if the dimensions of the tiles do not allow using the parallel stop, the cut will be uneven.
Equipped with a table, on which a bridge is fixed – a design that allows the motor along with the disc to move along the table, making an accurate straight cut. Provide high quality of cut, but much heavier, more overall and more expensive than floor models. Another disadvantage is the limited cutting length.
Cantilever with movable bed
They are also equipped with a table, but it is not the disk that moves, but the bed fixed on the surface of the table. The tile is rigidly attached to the bed, the bed moves along the guides – this ensures the accuracy of the cut without limiting its length. The most efficient and versatile design, but also the most expensive.
Characteristics of electric cutters
Electric cutters – like any other tool – are usually divided into professional and household. As always, there is no clear gradation here, the “professionalism” of an electric cutter is determined not by some of its specific properties, but rather by workmanship, power reserve and scope. But electric cutters of different purposes still have some common features.
Signs of household models:
usually floor-standing design with a bottom engine;
wetting the disc by immersing it in a bath;
minimum of adjustments and settings;
the table (if any) is lightweight, usually foldable.
table and engine overhead;
water supply directly to the disc using a pump;
adjustment of inclination and depth of cut
This parameter affects productivity and maximum cutting depth. The more powerful the engine of the machine, the larger the diameter of the disc can be installed on it, and the greater the depth of cut it can provide.
Electric cutters with a power of up to 1 kW are designed for the installation of a disc with a diameter of up to 200 mm and can cut to a depth of 40-60 mm. For cutting ceramic tiles, such machines are quite suitable, but for cutting thicker and stronger materials, for example, porcelain stoneware, it is better to choose a more powerful tool.
With a power of 1-1.5 kW, the electric cutter can be equipped with discs with a diameter of 200-250 mm and cut to a depth of 80 mm. These machines are the most versatile and can handle most types of floor and wall coverings.
The most powerful electric cutters consume 1.5-2.2 kW, can be equipped with discs with a diameter of 350-400 mm and cut to a depth of 100-135 mm. These machines are capable of cutting all kinds of finishing materials, including natural stone, ceramic tiles and clinker bricks.
There are two types of discs for cutting tiles – for “dry” cutting and for “wet”. Dry cutting discs can be used without forced cooling, but they generate a lot of dust during work and their cut quality is low. Such discs are installed on a grinder for rough cutting of tiles. Wet cutting discs give a more accurate seam, but require forced water cooling. Electric cutters use two methods of supplying water to the disc.
In floor machines, the disc is partially immersed in a bath of water. The method is simple and inexpensive, but only suitable for machines with a bottom motor. In addition, in this design, water is strongly sprayed during operation.
In bridge and cantilever machines, water is pumped directly to the disc using a pump. The method is more efficient, but complicated.
Blade outer diameter and maximum cutting depth
These two parameters are closely related and also indirectly depend on the power of the machine. It is not recommended to install a blade with a diameter larger than the power permits on the electric cutter – this can lead to jamming of the equipment and damage to the engine. But it is possible to install a disc of a smaller diameter (and a shallower cutting depth). And sometimes you even need to. For a clean cut, its depth must match the thickness of the tile. If the tile is cut too deep, it will chip more often.
For a high-quality cut, it is best that the depth of cut is 3–5 mm greater than the thickness of the tile, and that the edge of the sputtering disc is not completely immersed.
Adjusting the depth of cut allows you to fine-tune the thickness of the material being cut. In addition, this option on bridge and cantilever machines allows you to start the cut not from the edge of the tile, but in the middle – this way you can use the electric tile cutter to cut holes.
Adjusting the cutting angle
With tiles cut at an angle, evenly and without chips, you can make a much more attractive joint than using a tiled corner.
This is sometimes necessary when tiling the outer corners of rooms, columns and other decorative elements. Adjusting the cutting angle allows you to cut tiles not strictly at 90 °, but at a given angle.
Bevel cut depth
The maximum bevel cut depth is always less than the maximum straight cut depth. Pay attention to this when choosing a tool. Knowing the maximum thickness of the tile with which you have to work, select an electric cutter with the appropriate depth of the bevel cut.
The rotational speed of the disk is not a particularly important parameter for an electric cutter. For both tile and porcelain stoneware, the optimum is 2500–3000 rpm. At lower speeds, performance drops, and at higher speeds, the disk starts to overheat.
Rim diameter of the disc
The hole in the diamond disc must strictly match the diameter of the machine spindle. It is not allowed to install equipment with a larger bore hole – this will lead to imbalance, deterioration of cut quality, and even to tool breakage.
Cutting length (Cutting width)
In electric bridge cutters, the length of the cut is limited by the length of the platform – the disk cannot go beyond its limits, and the bridge fastenings interfere with moving the tile itself.
Pay attention to this when choosing a tool. For floor and console electric cutters, the cut length is virtually unlimited, but if the dimensions of the tiles are larger than the dimensions of the site, it can be difficult to maintain the cut quality along the entire length.
The size of the site affects the size of the tiles to be processed. On bridge electric cutters, it is simply not possible to make a cut larger than the length of the site allows. For other constructions, the dependence is not so clear.
It is undesirable for the center of gravity of the tile to pass outside the site – this can be the case if one of the dimensions of the tile is twice the size of the site. But you should not count on the “dimensionlessness” of bridge and floor machines – it is most convenient to work with tiles when they fit entirely on the site.
Accidental activation lock
The specificity of the operation of electric cutters does not require electronic safety systems such as soft start or maintaining the speed. Turning on the engine at the moment when the disc touches the tile will lead to chips, so the cut is carried out only at full speed and the load during operation is monotonous. But the inclusion can be unintentional, for example, when you are just trying to start a cut. To avoid damage to the material, it is better to take care of the presence of a blocking of accidental activation.
Type of food
All electric cutters of the easel design are powered from a 230 V network. But among the manual electric cutters there are also battery cutters. If you are looking for just such a model, take a look at the cordless tool series on one platform.
The accessory of the cordless tool to a specific platform allows the entire series of this platform to be used with one set of batteries and one charger. Thanks to this, you can save a lot, since for some tools the price of a set of batteries is quite comparable to the price of the tool itself.
Bridge and console machines have a considerable weight – up to 60 kg and more. The presence of transport wheels on a pair of legs will facilitate the movement of the machine if necessary.
The stability of the table is not impaired by the wheels, since they do not touch the floor in the working position. To move the machine, you need to raise the table from the side opposite to the one on which the wheels are installed. In this case, the table legs are lifted off the floor, and its weight is transferred to the wheels.
Many machines have a design with the possibility of folding the legs. This simplifies transportation. In addition, most machines can be folded down – when working with large tiles, it is more convenient to work on the floor.
For a bathroom renovation using a simple tile, an inexpensive electric floor cutter will be quite enough .