Cut Tile With A Grinder
Cut clean, accurate circles and squares in stone and ceramic tile with an angle grinder.
Become a pro tile cutter
Stone, porcelain and glass tiles offer beautiful options for bath and kitchen tiling projects. But cutting these hard materials presents a unique challenge. Straight cuts are easy to make with a diamond wet saw. But cutting curves and holes requires special techniques.
In this story, we’ll show you how to use an angle grinder with a diamond blade to cut perfect circles and squares in even the toughest tile. You can buy a 4-in. or 4-1/2-in. grinder for around $50 and a dry-cut diamond blade (below) to fit it starting at $20. In general, more expensive blades will last longer. When you’re choosing a diamond blade, look for one with a continuous, rather than segmented rim for the smoothest cut.
Be aware, though, that cutting with a dry-cut diamond blade creates a lot of dust and noise. So make sure you cut in a well-ventilated area (or better yet, outside!) and wear hearing protection, a good-quality two-strap dust mask and safety glasses.
Make accurate, near perfect circle cuts for shower valves and plumbing pipes with this technique
Circle / Step One: Tilt the blade for cutting circles
Score the front of the tile along the circle guideline with the diamond blade. Tilt the grinder about 30 degrees and cut about 1/16 in. deep.
Circle / Step Two: Make angle cuts
Move the blade 1/8 in. to the inside of the line and make a deeper cut. Continue moving the blade away from the line and cutting deeper until you cut completely through.
Circle / Step Three: Smooth the cut edge
Grind off rough edges and trim back to the line for a perfect curve.
Take a two step approach to cutting smooth semicircular shapes.
Semicircle / Step One: Score and rough cut
The process for cutting semicircles from the edge of tiles is similar to the technique shown for full circles. You start by marking the cut and scoring the face of the tile on the line. then cut in from the edge of the tile to remove as much waste as possible. Make a series of progressively deeper shallow cuts until you’re through the tile.
Semicircle / Step Two: Trim and grind
Now complete the semicircle with a series of radial cuts—like the spokes of a wheel. Finish by cleaning up the rough edges with the diamond blade. Or remove the “tabs” with a tile nipper (a pliers-like biting tool). Then grind the edges smooth.
Small Hole Technique
Cut small holes from the backside with plunge cuts.
Small hole / Step One: Plunge cut
Center the cut on the hole and plunge slowly from the back. Stop when the slot through the face of the tile lines up with the edges of the desired cutout.
Small hole / Step Two: Repeat plunge cut
Draw another larger circle to guide the depth of the remaining cuts. Use this circle as a guide for making the rest of the plunge cuts. Rotate the grinder about a blade’s width and make another plunge cut, stopping at the outer circle. Continue this process until you finish the hole.
Make rectangular cutouts with plunge cuts from the back side.
Rectangular / Step One: Score the front
Mark the cutout on the front and back of the tile precisely. Then score the front of the tile about 1/16 in. deep along the line. The key is to avoid cutting beyond the corners of the square where the cut might be visible.
Rectangular / Step Two: Plunge cut the back
Flip the tile over and plunge the cut from the back. Stop and check often. Stop when the cut lines up with the corners of the marked square on the front. Plunge-cut the remaining three sides.
Learn how to master the art of subway tile here.
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