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Canadian Woodworking

Manual tile cutter

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When it comes to cutting ceramic, porce­lain or glass tiles you have two options – a manual or electric tile cutter.

Author: Carl Duguay
Illustration: Len Churchill

When it comes to cutting ceramic, porce­lain or glass tiles you have two options – a manual or electric tile cutter. A manual cutter is perfect for most DIY projects. It’s simple to operate, doesn’t use water and is relatively inexpensive. An electric cutter is best for hard materials, such as marble, limestone or granite, and when you need to make a lot of diagonal or intricate cuts.

With a manual cutter you can make straight or diagonal cuts. Some models enable you to cut angles between 0° and 45°. Most cutters are equipped with a car­bide cutting (a.k.a. scoring) wheel that slides along rails over the tile and scores the surface. You then use a breaker bar that’s attached to the cutter handle to snap the tile along the score line. You can cut both glazed and unglazed tiles. For hard material such as glass there are specific cut­ting wheels to use. Manual cutters come in a variety of sizes. Purchase a cutter that can handle the largest tile cuts you need to make. For most DIY projects a 14″ to 24″ tile cutter is adequate. Two of the most common errors DIYers make when using a tile cutter are making multiple passes with the cutting wheel and applying too much pressure when making the scoring cut.

Cutting length: 14″ to 64″
Tile thickness: 1/4″ to 3/4″
Price range: $35 to $600
Top brands: Anvil, Montolit, QEP, Rubi, Vevor

Get the Most Out of Your Manual Tile Cutter

Know your cutter

Read and follow the instruc­tions that come with your cutter. While using a tile cut­ter is pretty easy, you still want to make some practice cuts using inexpensive or scrap tiles.

Single score

Don’t make multiple scores on a tile as this can result in uneven breakage and a ragged edge.

Let the cutter cut

Gentle, consistent pressure is the way to go. Press too hard and the tile will break, which is why you need to make some practice cuts to find the sweet pressure spot.

Smooth it

After cutting and snap­ping the tile, smooth the cut edges using a diamond rubber pad. The tiles will look better when installed.

Goggle up

When tiles break, small sharp fragments can fly upwards. Just like a pro, wear proper eye protection.

Published:
Last modified: July 6, 2023

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.


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