As the name of the tool suggests, the wet tile saw is used for cutting tiles. You might be asking yourself why you need to keep things wet in order to cut tiles, and the answer is simple – to prevent unwanted damage to both your blade and the tile you’re cutting.
Depending on the material used to make a tile, they can be either extremely delicate and fragile or tough and prone to chipping.
The water that wet tile saws use serves two functions: first, it keeps the blade well-lubricated in order to extend the sharpness of the teeth as well as prevent chipping; and second, it helps in softening the tiles to reduce the risk of burn marks and cracking.
There are numerous materials used to make tiles. These include ceramic, porcelain, wood, marble, granite, stone, slate, glass, and the list goes on. Tiles are made to be extremely durable in order to resist the different forces that strike your tiles on a daily basis.
Why wet tile saws?
There are several power tools you can use to cut tiles, such as angle grinders or circular saws. The only drawback is that their blades aren’t specifically made to cut tiles. You can purchase diamond-coated blades for cutting hard materials like marble and slate, but there’s an increased possibility that the tiles will have burn marks since there’s no safe way to lubricate angle grinders or circular saws with water.
As for wet tile saws, they’re constructed to use water to cool and lubricate the blade and tile. Wet tile saws aren’t just for cutting tiles or stone. Certain models also work like table saws or miter saws. They’re not exactly the perfect replacement for said tools, but they can get a lot of work done.
In general, there are two methods you can use to keep your blades and tiles adequately moist. The first method involves keeping a garden hose running fresh, cold water continuously. This ensures that the water enters the nozzle and sprays at the blade (or submerges the blade in some wet tile saw models) is completely clean and free of harmful particles that can ruin your machine. The drawback is that you’re limited to how long your garden hose is, meaning you’re sacrificing portability for cleanliness.
The second method involves using a submersible pump in the water basin (most if not all wet tile saws come with a basin fixed under the table to hold water) which pumps water directly at the blade and tile. This means you just need a certain amount of water and you’re free to take the machine wherever you go. Of course, whatever contaminants that get sprayed away by the jets of water reenter the water basin and is reused.
Although many wet tile saw models may look like miter saws, more often than not, they’re not going to be able to perform the same tasks. First of all, most wet tile saw models don’t have a plunging head so you can’t pull the head down or slide it towards you to make cuts. Secondly, you push the material into the blade, kind of like what you’d do with a table saw. However, more recent models may include a plunging head that bevels, so you can use it to do what miter saws can to a certain extent.
Although wet tile saws are extremely helpful in cutting delicate or tough tiles down to size, it’s understandable why it’s not a commonly-purchased tool by DIY or even most commercial workers. Although it can perform tasks that a table saw and miter saw can do (depending on the model), its capacities are extremely limited (small rip capacity, bevel inflexibility, etc.). In fact, several hardware stores in the US have a wet tile saw for rent in their shop so instead of purchasing one, you can just head to the store and rent theirs.
If you plan on adding a wet tile saw to your workshop, look for a model that provides proper cooling (nozzles or submerged blades), is easy to use, and has an adequate rip capacity. If you plan make bevel cuts on the edge of your tiles, there are several wet tile saw models that come with either a blade that bevels or a table that bevels.