Saturday, March 31, 2007

cutting my teeth on a tile cutter

A night of thunder- storms, high winds and nonstop rain across North Texas. I began to think the house might not stand up to the wind and water but here it is a sunny morning and we're still standing. Puddles everywhere and even the birds look bedraggled but it's a brand new day.

I played with the tile cutter for a couple of hours yesterday. I'm using this 14" tile cutter by Work Force that I got at Home Depot about 4 months ago for about $15. It must have been a close-out item because I can't find a cutter there now for less than $50.

This was a pretty cool tool once I got the hang of it. Cutting a tile is done in two steps. First you score the finished side of the tile by pushing the handle down and forward to press a rotating circular blade across the top of the tile. Then you pull the handle up and push down so that a cross piece behind the blade applies pressure to the tile to cleanly break it along the score. I had about twenty 3-inch tiles that I cut to 2" in about 30 minutes. The cutter works great if you're cutting off at least a half-inch of material but I had much less success when I tried to trim just 1/8" off the tiles. I could score the tile but when I tried to break it the tile would not break along the score but instead would break perpendicular to the score. I ended up scoring the tiles and then using tile nippers to break each tile bit by bit along the score. They ended up reasonably straight though not with such a clean edge. I don't know if a larger tile would fare any better. Using the nippers was more time-consuming and required good hand strength. Since I was cutting small pieces, they tended to fly in all directions so I solved the problem by placing the tile, the nippers and my hands inside a plastic grocery bag so it would contain the flying pieces. Gloves and goggles are also recommended.

All in all, a very practical tool for small jobs, and one I hope to use in the future for some kind of mosaic work. If you're going to do a lot of tile work you might need something more expensive, like a higher quality manual cutter or a wet saw.

Now I have to get those tiles cemented.

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