How to Cut Square Notches with a Wet Saw
Wet saws generally use a diamond-edge carbide blade to cut tile. They are called wet saws because they use a pumping system to continually shower the blade with water. This serves two purposes: to cool the blade as it cuts through unusually dense material, and to keep dust from being kicked up into the air. These saws, while precise when cutting straight lines, are notoriously difficult to use for cutting shapes. The following technique will explain how to cut square notches near the edge of a tile:
Step 1 – Mark the Tile
Look at the area where the tile is going to be installed and determine the exact size that the square notch will need to be. Then, using a tape measure, find the area on the tile where the notch will need to be cut. Turn the tile upside down and use a china marker to draw shape of the notch that is going to be cut.
Step 2 – Cut the Tile
Put on a pair of safety goggles before making any cuts. Place the tile on the saw upside down so that the mark made for the notch is clearly visible. Cutting the tile upside-down may help keep the porcelain enamel finish (also known as the glaze), from chipping. Turn on the saw and slowly feed the tile towards the blade. Cut the two parallel lines of the notch that is desired, stopping when the blade reaches the perpendicular horizontal line that connects the two sides of the notch. If these two lines are less than an inch apart, skip directly to step 4.
Step 3 – Cut Smaller Lines
If the notch is larger than an inch in width, turn the saw back on and cut more lines in the same manner as the first two. The new cuts should be the exact same length as the first two lines reaching from the edge of the tile to the horizontal line connecting the first two cuts. Each of these subsequent cuts should be between the original two cuts and no more than a quarter inch apart.
Step 4 – Remove the Excess
Using a hammer or tile nippers, carefully remove the excess material that lies between the original two cuts. Set the tile on a flat surface, such as a table, so that the edge of the table rests directly beneath horizontal line that connects the original two cuts and forms the deepest part of the notch. Next, using a hammer, tap the quarter inch tabs breaking them away from the tile; be gentle so the tile does not crack. It is also possible to use a pair of tile nippers to clip away these narrow tabs.
Step 5 – Smooth the Jagged Edges of the Notch
To smooth the jagged edges left behind from breaking the tabs out of the center of the notch, turn the saw back on and slowly insert it between the sides of the notch. As delicately as possible, touch the edge of the blade to the jagged edge of the tile to smooth it out. Work the saw along the deepest end of the notch until it is entirely smooth. Another way to smooth the inside of the notch is to use a carbide tile file. Using a file though will require much more time and elbow grease than the saw method will.