How can I cut off 1/8 inch from ceramic tile?

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How to cut tiles with a wet saw

For experienced DIYers, a wet saw will make cutting tiles easy. Wet saws/electric cutters are used for right angles, curved or beveled edges and thicker tiles such as porcelain and natural stone. You can use it indoors but outside use is less messy.

The RYOBI 7 in. 4.8 Amp Tile Saw with Stand, exclusively available at Home Depot (opens in new tab)is a great candidate for more complex home improvements and comes with attractive features to help you achieve flawless results. 

The anti-slip rubber feet on the stand creates a stable surface, while the splash hood allows you to see exactly what you’re doing, without the water getting in the way.

How to:

  1. Make sure the electric cutter has water in the tray as the blade will overheat; it also reduces the amount of dust produced when cutting.
  2. For curved edges, mark with a pencil the area that needs to be cut, and mark several lines up to the curved mark. This is because a tile can’t be turned whilst being cut.
  3. Using the electric cutter, cut the number of lines up to the curved mark so it looks like a comb.
  4. Draw round the curved mark with a tile scribe to score and cut into the glaze.
  5. Using a tile nipper, break away small bits at a time up to the curve, and file down until smooth.

Cutting Ceramic Tiles With a Mechanical Tile Cutter

To make the job of cutting tiles a little easier there is a range of mechanical tile cutters that can be used, these are as follows:

Contractors Tile Cutter

A slightly easier way is by using a mechanical tile cutter or contractors tile cutter as they are sometimes known. The tile is placed in the machine, the handle, which has a circular blade on the end is pushed over the tile along the line you need to cut and then the clamp is wound down onto the tile which breaks it in the required place.

You may find that with some of the cheaper ones that you need to go over the tile with the cutter 2 – 3 times to make sure that you have completly scored the glaze so the unwanted section will break off easily.

For only £15.00 its worth its weight in gold and will save you a lot of time if you have quite a few cuts to make.

If possible, get one with an adjustable guide as you can then ensure that your tile stays straight while cutting it. You will also then get a nice crisp line.



Contractors tile cutter

Contractors tile cutter

Transfering Shapes onto Tiles

The shapes mentioned above can easily be transferred to the tile, for cutting with the saw, with this little beauty.

Called a profile gauge, it has hundreds of thin "needles" which, when pressed against the profile, will form the outline which can be transferred to the tile by drawing along the edge of the gauge with a pencil on to the tile.

There is one drawback with this tool however and this comes in the form of actually getting the copied profile of your shape on to the tile in the right place. This tool is great at marking out the correct shape but it is then left up to you to measure and mark the tile with the shape in exactly the right place. This can be quite tricky!



Profile Gauge

Profile Gauge

Tile Nippers

  1. Tile nippers operate similar to a pair of pliers. The tool is used to make curved and intricate cuts not possible with straight cutting devices. Scribing the tile in the desired location with a tile scriber or utility knife beforehand makes the task much easier. Place the tile between the jaws of the nippers and apply firm pressure to the handles while simultaneously twisting your wrist to chip away bits of the tile. It is important to bite small pieces at a time to avoid breaking the tile. The scribe acts as a breaking point, which helps to provide a clean edge.

Bigger Jobs with Straight Cuts

If you have lots of tiles to cut, or if you need to make cuts from corner to corner, use a tile cutter. Whether you plan to invest in the purchase or rent one to save a few bucks, just make sure you pick up a tile cutter that’s big enough for the tile you’re cutting! Then, as mentioned above, practice on a few spare tiles until you’re comfortable with this tiling tool.

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STEP 1: Measure and mark the tile

First, measure and mark the tile where you want to make the cut.

STEP 2: Score the tile

Place the tile into the tile cutter. Make sure the tile is pushed snugly up to the fence and that your marked line is directly under the scoring wheel. While applying slight pressure on the handle, slide the wheel forward across the tile. You should hear a scratching noise, which is the sign that the tile is being scored.

STEP 3: Snap the tile

Once you’ve scored the tile, move the handle back slightly from the tile’s edge and let the breaking feet lie flat on top of the tile. Apply downward pressure on the handle, and the tile will snap.

STEP 4: Smooth the edges of the tile

If the cut edge of the tile is rough, smooth it with a rubbing stone.

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Photo: amazon.com

Photo: amazon.com

Step 1: Measure and mark tile

Always wear gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask ($8, The Home Depot) when cutting tile. Use a ruler to measure where your ceramic tile needs to be cut. Mark the measurement on the glazed side of the tile using an erasable marker or pencil and a straightedge.

How to Cut Tile

9 Methods to Cut Ceramic Tile

To make the procedure of cutting ceramic tile easy, three different tools and techniques are recommended the most. However, one should keep in mind that cement, stone, terracotta and a certain type of porcelain tiles should only be processed using a wet saw. Here are the 8 tools you can use for cutting a ceramic tile:

  1. Manual Snap Cutter
  2. Tile Nipper
  3. Wet Tile Saw
  4. Glass Cutter
  5. Angle Grinder
  6. Rotary Cutting Tool
  7. Jig Saw
  8. Tile Scribe
  9. Power Drill

Helpful Guide:

#1 Using a Manual Snap Cutter

A snap cutter and a wet tile saw are the two main power tools which can be used to cut a ceramic tile. If you are looking for a budget option which is easy to carry out the task as well, then you should go for a snap tile cutter.

It is also known as a rail cutter and works simila

It is also known as a rail cutter and works similarly to a glass cutter. It has a carbide wheel that is slowly pressed along the tile to score.

A manual snap cutter comes in really handy for making straight cuts. If you want to make a perfectly straight cut, the manual snap cutter is what you’re looking for. Handy as it is, it is a worthy investment as it only ranges around $200 (decent quality) and is available on any home improvement online portal or shop.

Follow the guide to cut a ceramic tile with manual snap cutter:

  1. To use the snap cutter, initially, you have to prepare the tile and mark the line.
  2. After marking the line, place the tile firmly against the front guide, lift it and depress to score a straight line.
  3. After scoring, depress the handle in order to snap the tile in two pieces. If you’re cutting ceramic tile (more than one), clamp the fence into the same position as the first cut and place the tiles succeedingly.
  4. However, you should brush the debris away after you’re done with the cutting procedure.

#2 Using a Tile Nipper

But most of the times we want to make irregular cuts across the edges rather than the straight cuts. In such cases, using an efficient tile nipper is beneficial as the snap cutters can’t make the irregular cuts.

Also, known as the nibbling tool, it can be used to make a half inch or an entire inch distant cuts from the edge by making the scoring lines. This tool is also used to make notches or tiny cutout. The best part about the nippers is that they are relatively chip ranging from $10-$25 based on their quality.

However, the drawback of a tile nipper is that the cuts that are made using it are not as clean, unlike the rest two tools.

  1. To make a cut using the tile nipper, initially use a snap cutter for scoring the lines.
  2. After scoring, nibble the tile chips one by one slowly from the tile area that is to be removed.
  3. Removing larger bits will shatter the entire tile and therefore, patience is what you require while nibbling the tile away.

#3 Using a Wet Tile Saw

The precision of tile cuts are made using the wet saw, but one has to be experienced to use the wet saw. Wet saws are largely available in different models, different sizes both for renting and owning.

Therefore, find a prominent home improvement center or portal to purchase a budget priced wet saw which can be available for around $60. In case if you are looking for a wet saw that can handle the bulk job, get a professional one which costs around $500.

The tile saws come with pumps which squirt water on constant basis onto a sharp diamond blade. Inexpensive saws do not have any pumps but have the ability to keep the made submerged.

It’s a mandatory to have a splash guard for the wet saw if you want to use it in the indoor environment with the help of scattered spray. However, using it outdoors is recommended because of the dust and splatter it delivers. In case if you want to make curvaceous cuts, employ a radial arm wet saw.

  1. To cut a tile with a wet saw, initially set it on a smooth surface. If the saw comes with a pump, put the pump in a pan and fill the pan with water.
  2. Test it and make sure it’s functional before proceeding to cut in a way that it supplies water stream to the diamond blade.
  3. If your saw doesn’t have a pump, fill the pan to a certain level such that the blade stays submerged in water and keep filling the water after every 20 cuts.
  4. Now, take a marker and mark the tile on the surface in the shape you want to make a cut.
  5. To make straight lines, place the tile on the tray pulled away from the diamond blade. Turn on the saw, hold the tile rigidly against the tray, slide it and let the blade cut the tile.
  6. To make angle cuts, switch to the protractor like mode and cut notches by making small and parallel cuts that are around 1/4 inch distant. Take a tile nipper and finish the work by nibbling the chips away.

#4 Using a Glass Cutter

If the task is small and doesn’t involve any curvy or complex cuts, you should use a glass cutter. It can be found anywhere in the nearby local tool stores or even online for a very low cost.

 Measure & Mark: By aligning the horizontal ed

  1. Measure & Mark: By aligning the horizontal edge to the bottom of the tile, measure and use a pencil to mark the area where you want to cut.
  2. Position & Score: Place the tile down on a robust surface (a plywood suits best), move the square cautiously and keep it a little off the marked line. Now press down the glass cutter and move it along the marked line by using the square as a reference.
  3. Snap Tile: Place a wire hanger along the marked/cut line and press down on the edges until the tile snaps.
  4. Smoothen: You want to smoothen out the edges whenever you cut a tile since the sharpness would be dangerous. Rub the edges across a brick or a rubbing stone to do so.

#5 Using an Angle Grinder

Another tool you can use is an angle grinder (4-inch) with a stone blade. It is helpful to make angled cuts. The cuts will not be as cleaner as you get using a wet tile saw though they would be fine. Around the doorways and heater vents, you can make rough cuts quite easily.

It is important to choose the right blade (diamond tipped and smooth edge)  for the angle grinder when cutting ceramic tile. Once you are done fitting it tightly into it, start the procedure:

  1. Draw your lines to mark the area to be cut
  2. Place the tape on top to cover the edge to prevent chipping
  3. Gently press down the angle grinder and cut along the surface and the lines
  4. By holding the blade against an edge horizontally, you can make rounded cuts
  5. By holding the blade against an edge vertically, you can make straight cuts

#6 Using a Rotary Cutting Tool

What if you want to create a hole in the center of the tile or make cuts on the edge? Well, there is a solution!

A rotary cutting tool or RotoZip can be used to make such cuts (such as circles for pipe insertion) or any shape. It has a blade that works similarly to a drill bit and moves super quickly. The bits cut through the ceramic tile. It doesn’t cut straight lines too well, but can fulfil the duty of a tile nipper easily.

They are on the expensive side but can be used for a lot of remodelling jobs at home.

#7 Using a Tile Scribe

The most basic method of cutting tiles (particularly straight cuts) is using a tile scribe. It has a tungsten carbide tip which allows it to score almost on any tile.

 Do the marking on the tile where you want to cut

  1. Do the marking on the tile where you want to cut and put another tile against the one which is to be cut (it will work as a straight edge)
  2. With a firm grip, press down on the tile scribe and draw it along the marked starting and finishing line
  3. After scoring, place the tile on the edge of the surface you were working on such that the scored line is just above the edge
  4. Press down strongly on the unwanted part of the tile and holding onto the piece that you need above the edge of the work surface with your other hand

#8 Using a Power Drill

You can either use a drill or a masonry drill to cut holes in ceramic tiles. First you need to drill small holes along the diameter of the hole you wish to cut and then cut along the edges using a tile saw. At the end, you can use a tile filer to smoothen the edges.

  1. Use a tile scribe to mark the centre inside the hole which is to be cut
  2. Put it in the centre and twist to score
  3. After that, use a power drill to make the hole
  4. Start with small drill bit size and make your way up to the desired hole size

#9 Using a JigSaw

A jigsaw can also be used to make cut in ceramic tiles. It works best to make notches and angled cuts in the tile.

A tile cutter helps to make straight cuts however at times, the requirements might be different (smaller, slanted or notches). Here’s where the jigsaw shines with it’s diamond blade.

  1. Make sure the tile is properly fitted on the work bench before starting cutting
  2. Also keep sprinkling some water on the tile while making cuts using a jigsaw to make sure it doesn’t overheat

Can you cut tiles without a tile cutter?

If you want to cut tiles without a wet saw or even a tile cutter you can use a or carbide-tipped pencil, both of which you can buy on Amazon (opens in new tab). Cutting tiles with a scribe can be done successfully on thinner glass tiles especially.

Geraghty says: ‘For simple trimming, mark on top of the tile, where you would like to cut. Using a glass cutter, score the tile on the cut line. Then, place the tile on a solid surface with a wire clothes hanger under the score line. Press down and break the tile along the line and smooth the cut if necessary.’

‘For a round cut then you can use an angle grinder [like this Black + Decker product on Amazon (opens in new tab)], which is a handheld power tool that can be purchased from any good hardware store. Firstly, draw out the rounded shape or edge onto the front of the tile, ideally with a tile marker although a lead pencil should be perfectly sufficient too.’

‘Then, secure the tile to a flat workbench, using a clamp, with the edge of the tile you intend to cut handing off the side of the bench. Finally, using a continuous rim blade on your grinder, slowly pull the angle grinder along your cut line. Do not rush this as this can cause jagged edges.’

As a stable place to sever tiles, this 2x4basics 90164MI Custom Work Bench is one of the cheapest we’ve found on Amazon (opens in new tab), and comes with over 6,000 reviews. It’s a great garage storage idea that’s fab for keeping your finished tile-work tidy and organized.

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