For a small job of putting marble on the floor of a smallish bathroom I
got one of the $88 wet saws at Lowe's. It did an okay job, but I could
see micro-chips along the cut lines as I was cutting....nothing anyone
could notice without getting on hands and knees though.
Is this just a fact of life when cutting polished stone, or can you
make better cuts using a better blade?
I am about to embark on a much larger project on a different bathroom
(marble tile counter, travertine shower, tub skirt & surround and
wainscotting, slate floor and am willing to get a better blade (or even
a better saw if that's necessary) to help make the job go faster and
smoother with potentially better cuts.
What do you think?
Can't comment much about a better blade, always use inexpensive ones.
AFAIK, all have the diamonds sintered to it. On my blade edges, they
aren't all that close together. I suppose if there were more it would
tend to cut more smoothly. Feeding slower will too.
Cutting with polished surface up or down (according to the type of saw
you have) could help too. Good surface up if the blade is above, down
if blade is below.
For what chips you do get, you can always sand them out. Yes, the gloss
will go. If you want to take the trouble, you can re-polish.
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there are lots of blades, for different materials some are better than
others. usually the one that comes with a machine is cheap and average for
most things. you could get one specific to your material that would cut
better. investigate mk's web site for different blades, for example. make
sure you get one that has the correct arbor sized hole for your machine.
sometimes the cheap machines like that one have an odd sized arbor, which
can make it difficult to impossible to get another blade.
btw: you don't want a slotted blade for wet cutting marble/granite. go
slowly. feed material straight into the blade without any twist.
Even using a more expesive blade it's important to keep it 'dressed'.
This practice removes the super fine particles of stone or tile bisque
from around the diamonds that are embedded in the blade. You do this by
rubbing what's known as a rubbing stone against the blade on each side
as it's running. Do both sides frequently. This results in a clean blade
which leads to smoother quicker cutting. The rubbing stones are
available at tile stores and I believe Lowes. They are generally white
in color, 6" long by 3/4" thick by 2" wide and are used primarily for
rubbing the cut edges of tile to smooth them. Dressing the blade will
extend the blade life as well.
As for the saw, I don't have one that inexpensive, but I suspect for
stone and harder tile a bigger saw with more hp and rpm's would probably
work better for you. I have an older Rizzo Manufacturing Co. saw that I
bought from a neighbor who tiled until he retired. This saw was
maufactured many years ago and is of remarkable quality. When I got the
saw a few years ago I bought an expensive blade at a tile store and
while there a tile guy remarked that the 'contractor line' blades (made
in Korea I think) that they also sold were just as good. I believe the
expensive blade was about $100 and the other around $29. So I bought
both and have used both and have found no difference. He's also the one
who told me the secret of keeping the blade dressed. Works like a charm.
Joe S wrote:
What do you think about the "finished side up/down" issue? If I read
the other poster right, I should be having finished side down since the
motor is below the table. If that's correct, I'm a bit concerned about
marring the polished side by sliding over the table top.
The direction of the leading edge of the blade should always go into the
finished (top) of the tile. Chip-outs happen where the blade exits the
workpiece on the bottom. Slower blades reduce chipping but cut slower.
Larger blades generally have a the cutting edge moving faster than a smaller
blade at the same RPM. Lots of coolant/lubrication improves cut quality and
speed and preserves blade.
On my bottom blade saw the blade rotates so that the front is going down
into the table (i.e. if you stepped to the right side of the saw, the blade
would rotate CCW). This means the tile should be face up. I used it to cut
a lot of slate tile and found that cutting finished side down caused the end
of the cut to be on the bottom. The end of the cut was where this tile
(being slate and made of many layers) wanted to break so having it face down
was better for me.
These are tiles made to go on the floor and be walked on. Sliding it once
over a cutting table once should do little or no damage.
IMHO the quality of the blade does not so much dictate the quality of the
cuts it makes but on how long that blade will ultimately last and somwhat on
how sharp it stays. Cheaper blades may have less diamond tooth. have the
diamond less well attached. Certainly one way to save on cost is to
sacrifice quality control. That is not to say they have less quality but it
is not subjected to testing and improvement like a brand name might be.
Tile and stone cut the same as for wood. It all
depends on the way the saw blade is turning, you
want the blade to go down into the best surface.
On a regular saw with the blade below, the saw is
turning toward the feed, and that means that the
best side of the tile should be up.
For a good cut with minimum chip, you need plenty
of fluid and slow and regular movement of the
stone/tile, and you must make sure that the cut is
straight. The major error that most cutters make
is to cut too fast, which increases chips and can
ruin the saw in a short time.
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