Top 5 Tile Cutting Tools – The Ultimate Guide on How To Cut Tiles

Installing shiny new ceramic tiles can be a daunting task when you lack the right tools. The process involves different forms of tile cutting like straight, curved, or diagonal.

Most people find it easy when making straight cutting, although curved, corner and diagonal ceramic tile cutting is always a problem.

While remodeling my bathroom shower floor, I had to make circular cutting for water outlet spaces and L-curve cutting for the corner spaces. The task needed various tile cutting tools.

As a DIYer or professional homebuilder, you will most likely find yourself in the same predicament. With the following tile cutting tools, you should manage to cut your tiles in any shapes and styles.

1 – Wet Tile Saw

The Wet Tile Saw combines the use of electricity, water, and rapidly rotating diamond-encrusted blades when cutting.

In my experience as a DIYer, this is the best tool for good, professional ceramic tile cuts.

DeWalt D24000 Wet Tile Saw
DeWalt D24000 – The Best Professional Wet Tile Saw

It is a table-top saw just like the typical table-top wood cutting saws, except that it has diamond blade specifically made for cutting tiles. The constant flow of water from the reservoir helps in cooling the blade and minimizing dust and debris while cutting.

The tool has been finished with a stainless-steel top that is resistant to corrosion. With its adjustable rip fence with the miter gauge, I managed to get accurate straight tile cuts.

Project Suitability

The Wet Table-Top Tile Saw is suitable for high-quantity, high-quality straight tile cuts. Although, when used safely, it can cut tiles to your exact specifications.

I have personally managed to cut bevels, odd angles, T-cuts, L-cuts, and small shapes when using the saw.

Advantages

  • Easier to learn and use
  • A quite adequate motor for accurate cuts
  • Can be used when cutting a large number of tile
  • Flexible for different cut types
  • Cooling water reservoir helps minimize dust and debris

Disadvantages

  • Fence adjustment needs a little patience
  • The water reservoir is small, requires constant refilling

Step-by-Step Guide To Cut Tiles With A Wet Tile Saw

Step 1

  • Clean your workbench or table and place the saw on it. I always ensure it’s close enough to the edge of the bench to avoid straining my back when dealing with a lot of cutting
  • The ON/OFF switch is normally located on the front side of the tile saw. Ensure it faces your body in this case. Plug the electric cord to the socket
  • Familiarize yourself with the saw itself and the components. The blade, blade guard, lock, lock plate, water pan, and the saw table are its main components in this case

Step 2

  • Fill the reservoir (water pan) with water.

Step 3

  • Measure the desired length of your tile (length of the cutting) with the help of the measuring guides on the saw table and lock the lock plate. The measurements are located at the front and back edges of the saw table
  • You should make precise measurements for cleaner, professional cutting

Useful Tip

  • You can easily move the lock plate from side to side to easily cut your tile to any distance. You can lock it in either the left or right side of the blade depending on the cut.

Step 4

  • Safely position your tile snug against the locked lock plate that you have just measured
  • While holding both ends securely, double check your measurements and then push down the locking lever
  • Your lock plate should be now secured and the blade guard lowered. Switch on your tile saw

Step 5

  • Use both hands to push the tile downwards onto the saw table, backward (away from you) through the saw blade, and inward towards the lock plate, simultaneously in all directions and with equal pressure.

Useful Tip

It is not safe to use both hands for some small cuts since the spinning blade and lock plate are close together.

I normally use a long piece of scrap wood or another tile when pushing through the saw blade instead of my fingers just to be cautious and safer.

The other hand helps in pushing down the tile since they tend to rise when cutting.

SKIL 3540 - The Best Inexpensive Wet Tile Saw
SKIL 3540 – The Best Inexpensive Wet Tile Saw

Step 6

  • Continue pushing your wood scrap and/or hands with equal speed and pressure until the tile is cut completely.
  • Done! You have just made your first tile cut with the Wet Tile Saw.

Note: If for some reason the tile remnant touching the lock plate doesn’t come out, just leave it there as you turn off the saw.

Step 7

  • Turn off the saw
  • Lift the blade guard after the blade stops spinning. Lifting the guard while the blade is still spinning is dangerous and can also spray dirty tile-water over your clothes and face.
  • With the saw turned off, blade not spinning, and guard lifted, you can now safely reach and pull out any tile remnants.
  • You can apply the same technique to measure and cut fancy styles like L-cuts and diagonal cuts with the saw.

2 – Manual Tile Cutter

The Manual Tile Cutter (or Tile Snap Cutter) uses the same technique as glass cutters. The tool has carbide wheels that score into the surface of the tile and a handle for pressing when “snap-cutting.”

QEP 10900Q 35-Inch Manual Tile Cutter
QEP 10900Q 35-Inch Manual Tile Cutter

The simple score and snap technique employed by this tool is perfect for rip and diagonal tile cuts.

The tool comes with chrome-plated rugged steel rails and linear ball bearings slides, which help in smooth scoring on larger tiles.

I have found the aluminum alloy base, cutting table extensions, and the heavy-duty rubber pads very useful when cutting larger, heavier tiles.

Note: Wear proper eye protection to prevent eye/face injuries when using the tool.

Project Suitability:

The Manual Tile Cutter is suitable for cutting a few tiles. I find it the right tool for a DIYer who is looking to cut a few flooring tiles or doing a simple home repair task where tile cutting is involved.

Advantages

  • Easy to use
  • The tool is manually operated - no electricity needed
  • Inexpensive

Disadvantages

  • No flawless lines when cutting – you get rough edges
  • A lot of breakage and mis-cuts are involved
  • Cannot be used for angle cutting

Steps to Use the Tile Snap Cutter

Step 1

  • Place the tool on the ground or workbench and put on your eye protection gear
  • Assemble your tiles close to the work area. You should use a tape measure or ruler and a pencil to measure and mark the areas where you will be cutting

Step 2

  • Pick one tile and place it firmly against the top edge of the tile cutter. You should lift its handle and tilt the pressure pad such that it is angled out of the way
  • Proceed by moving the tile to a point where the cutting wheel is placed at the bottom edge of the tile. The wheel should now be precisely located at the point where you want to make the cut

Step 3

  • Once you have positioned the tile, consider scoring its face by firmly moving the carbide scoring wheel from bottom to top of the tile surface. Repeat the scoring one or two times for better results.

Useful Tip

Avoid too much scoring as they may crack the face of the tile. Cracking it means that you will end up with rough edges after snapping.

Step 4

  • Lift the handle and let the pressure bar pad drop down onto the approximate center of the tile. Slowly apply pressure to the handle, gently but firmly
  • The pressure will be evenly applied to the pressure pad, making it exert the resultant pressure on both sides of the tile over the metal snapping ridge. As a result, the tile will snap cleanly across the score line
  • Done! You have made your first tile cut with the Tile Snap Cutter. If the tile was properly scored, you will end up with a nice, clean cut tile.

3 – Tile Nippers

Tile Nipper, also Nibbler or Tile Snip, is the simplest tile cutting tool in the market.

The tool looks like a set of spring-loaded pliers, although its “jaw-end” has got two hardened carbide blades. The carbide blades are very dull, which allows for systematic nibbling at tile edges to make curves or cuttings.

M-D Building Products 49943 Compound Tile Nippers
M-D Building Products 49943 Compound Tile Nippers

Note: Wear proper eye protection to prevent eye/face injuries from the flying tile chippings when using the tool.

Project Suitability:

Tile Nippers are suitable for nipping off small portions of individual tiles. It is the ideal tool when making corner and curve cuttings.

Advantages

  • Simple to use, by just holding with one hand
  • The rubber handle enhances a comfortable grip
  • Excellent for hard and difficult cuts
  • Useful for corner and curve cuttings

Disadvantages

  • Causes tile breakages, especially thin tiles
  • Cannot be used for straight cuts or a large number of tiles

Steps To Use The Tile Nippers

Step 1

  • Use a pen and a tape measure (or ruler) to measure and mark the areas where you will be making the cutting.

Note: In case you are cutting along a straight line/edge, I will advise that you consider using the scoring wheel from your snap tile cutter to score along the line where you will be using the nibbler. It helps in creating a clean straight cut.

Step 2

  • Hold your tile nipper with one hand and start taking off small nips from one corner. In case of a concavely curved cut, you might want to start from the center of the material that you will be removing. On the other hand, for a convexly curved cut, start from the corner edge.
  • Hold the nipper at a slight angle and nip off the tile in small bits. Taking big chunks might save time but will result into snapping and breakage.

Tip: When using a nipper, patience is key!

Step 3

  • Continue working across the tile, by gradually reducing the amount of excess material remaining to the mark that you had made
  • When you are within an eighth of an inch to the mark, make your final cuts parallel to the cut line (for straight cuts) or tangent to the cut line (for convex cuts)
  • In the case of concave and circular cuts, you should make small nips around the interior of the cut until you get your desired results
  • Done! You now have a clean curved, straight, or circular cut.

Useful Tip: You can experiment with scrap tiles prior to making any cuts that count.

4 – Rotary Cutting Tools

Rotary Cutting Tools feature blade like rotating drill bit. The bit rotates exceedingly fast, and since they are covered in diamond grit, they work by biting through ceramic tile.

Rotary cutting tools are power tools with electric cords. The tool works just like a spiral saw.

DEWALT DW660 Rotary Tool
DEWALT DW660 Rotary Tool

Project Suitability:

Rotary Cutting Tools are suitable for cutting holes in the center of a tile or making small cuts on tile edges. The tool more useful when making small circular cuttings for pipes outlets on existing drywall tiles.

Advantages

  • The tool is handheld and simple to use
  • Better grip, hence better cuts
  • Can be used on drywall
  • Comes with a variety of cutting blades

Disadvantages

  • Can’t be used to make good straight cuts
  • Produces a lot of dust when cutting

Cutting ceramic tile with a rotary tool

Steps To Cut Ceramic Tiles With A Rotary Tool

  • Using a ruler and a pencil, measure and mark the area/line where you will be cutting
  • Plug in the power cord to the main supply socket
  • Hold the rotary cutting tool with your hand and point the cutting bit on one end of the cutting line
  • Power on the tool and slowly make the cutting along the marked line
  • Proceed with the slow cutting until you are done with the area/line that you marked.

Note: Since it produces a lot of dust, you might consider pausing and cleaning the tile surface while cutting. This helps in making the cutting line visible.

5 – Oscillating Multi-Tool

Oscillating Multi-Tool features a powerful oscillating motor that offers a strong performance when cutting. The tool is hand-held and comes with an electric power cord.

You will need a blade that is specifically meant for ceramic cutting in order to use this tool for tile cutting. A good example is the Diamond Coated Blade.

Cutting tile with an oscillating tool

Project Suitability:

Oscillating Multi-Tool is suitable for cutting holes in the center of a tile or making small cuts on tile edges on ceramic tiled dry-wall.

I found the tool more useful when cutting socket holes on dry-walls in my home remodeling tasks.

Advantages

  • Easy to operate
  • LED light for tighter areas
  • Powerful motor that allows for precise cutting

Disadvantages

  • You will need to buy a specific ceramic cutting blade
  • Quite noisy when operating

Steps To Cutting Tiles Using An Oscillating Tool

  • Using a ruler and a pencil, measure and mark the area/line where you will be cutting
  • Plug in the tool’s power cord to the main supply socket
  • Fix the ceramic cutting blade on the tool
  • Power on the tool and slowly make the cutting along the marked line
  • Proceed with the slow cutting until you are done with the area that you marked.

Conclusion

Whether it is your first time to cut ceramic tiles or you are a seasoned DIYer who has done this before, having the right tool will simplify the whole process. I always advise that before buying or using the above tools, you should consider the type of results that you are looking forward to getting.

With these above tile cutting tools, you can manage to complete any type of tiling project from bathroom shower to wall-tilling. Ceramic tiling offers for durable, attractive surface for walls and floors.

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