Inch T-Shank Diamond Jig Saw Blades For Ceramic Porcelain Tile
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Cutting Tile With A Jigsaw: Straight Cuts
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How To Cut Ceramic Tile With A Jigsaw – Step By Step
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.
A jigsaw is not the first tool most people think of when it comes to cutting tile. But a jigsaw can actually be one of the best tools for making those oddly shaped cuts in tile. But cutting tile with a jigsaw is not as easy as just picking a blade and starting cutting, we need to do some preparations.
When cutting ceramic tile with a jigsaw we use a carbide or diamond-coated blade. Secure the tile with a piece of wood and some clamps, mark the cut, put on safety gear, use water as a coolant, set the jigsaw to low speed, and cut the tile slowly to avoid heat buildup.
That is the quick version of how to cut tile with a jigsaw, but let’s go through the process in a little more detail, Step By Step.
How To Cut Ceramic Tile With A Jigsaw – Step By Step
A jigsaw is generally not the best tool for cutting ceramic tile. We have tile cutters and wet saws that are specifically designed to cut tile quickly, straight, and with little effort.
Compared to these tools, the jigsaw is slower and less effective at cutting tile.
But when it comes to cutting oddly shaped cuts, a small square in a corner, a v-notch, or making a slight unique curve the jigsaw is the best tool to use.
Use A Diamond Coated Or Carbide Coated Jigsaw Blade
To cut hard material like ceramic tile, we need an even harder and more durable material to cut it with.
To cut ceramic tile we want to use a diamond coated or a carbide-coated jigsaw blade.
These blades have diamond dust or carbide dust glued to the cutting edge of the blade, they are extremely durable and can handle cutting hard materials.
Diamond and carbide-coated blades are specialty blades and will be more expensive than conventional jigsaw blades for cutting wood and metal.
Check the of the different blades:
Mark The Cut
As with any type of cut, we want to mark the cut before we start cutting into the ceramic tile.
Since we are going to use water or cutting oil, it is important that we make a solid visible line. I prefer to use a permanent marker and let it dry before I start cutting.
When using only a carpenter’s pencil to mark the cut (as in the image above), the cutting line will be hard to see once you start cutting. The water will remove the line completely by the end of the cut.
Secure The Tile
To secure the tile, it is best to use a piece of scrap wood and some clamps. The scrap piece of wood will help us distribute the pressure across the tile so it will be more tightly secure and less prone to breaking.
Place the scrap piece of wood across the tile, let the part of the tile you are cutting protrude from the working surface, and secure a clamp to the scrap wood piece.
You might need a second clamp to secure the tile better, but in this scenario, it was better to only use one clamp so I could have better access to the small tile when cutting.
Put On Safety Gear
Safety gear should always be used around power tools. This is what we need for cutting ceramic tile with a jigsaw:
Safety Glasses – We need to be able to see the cutting line, tile pieces might break off and come toward your eyes. Always use safety glasses or a visor when cutting tile.
Dust Mask – Cutting with these fine carbide and diamond blades will produce tiny ceramic dust. Make sure you breathe in as little as possible and use a dust mask.
Also, consider using hearing protection and steel-toed boots. You are in charge of your own safety.
Jigsaw Settings For Cutting Tile
There are a couple of settings we need to make sure the jigsaw is set to before we start cutting. That is the orbital setting and the cutting speed of the jigsaw.
We want to use a lower cutting speed when cutting ceramic tile with a jigsaw. This is because the tile is so hard, and we use lower speeds to reduce friction and heat buildup.
Using faster speeds might seem quicker in the beginning, but if the blade overheats it will quickly become dull and wear out.
The other setting we need to keep in mind is the orbital setting. This is usually a lever on the side of the tool that goes from 0 to 3. Keep this at 0 or off. This makes sure the blade cuts straight up and down, and not in an orbital motion.
Having the orbital setting set to max (3) would only make the cut look worse and cause more vibration while cutting the tile.
Use Water/Cutting Oil To Prevent Overheating
Cutting material that is as hard as ceramic tile will produce a lot of heat due to the friction between the hard jigsaw blade and the hard tile.
To reduce heat buildup we can use a coolant like water or cutting oil.
I prefer to use water, it seems to hold up for doing these small tile cuts. You can really feel the difference between cutting dry and cutting with water.
I just use a small bottle with water that has a small hole in the lid, I use this to spray onto the cut when it runs dry. But make sure to keep the water away from the electrical parts, and don’t use too much water.
You can also use cutting oil to reduce heat buildup and friction. It works well. But the big downside of using cutting oil is that it will leave a mark on the wood you use your jigsaw on after cutting the tile.
I try to avoid using cutting oil since I only have one jigsaw that I use for several materials.
Cutting The Tile With A Jigsaw
Cutting tile with a jigsaw is fairly straightforward.
Start the jigsaw, let it get up to speed, place the shoe of the jigsaw onto the tile and slowly approach the cut with the running blade.
Cutting tile will require patience because it is so dense, and the cutting will take time. We want to use some pressure when cutting into the tile, but do not force the cut too much even though it can be tempting.
Forcing the cut can result in the tile breaking, and overheating, and the blade will also wear out more quickly.
Just take your time, follow the line, pour some water on the cut if it runs dry, and be patient.
Normally, a jigsaw will cut on the upstroke, which pulls the jigsaw into the material. Diamond-coated or carbide-coated jigsaw blades will cut on the upstroke and the downstroke.
Cutting on the downstroke pushes the jigsaw away from the material and might create more vibration, so make sure to hold that jigsaw a little bit tighter than you otherwise would.
Some tiles will be next to impossible to cut with a jigsaw, they are just too hard. If the progress of the cut is really slow, then this might be the case.
The tile on the right in the image above is ceramic tile, but after cutting it for 1 minute, I only made 1mm of progress on the cut. The tile in the center only took 30 seconds for the entire cut.
Can You Do Plunge Cuts In Tile With A Jigsaw?
You can not do a direct plunge cut into tile with a jigsaw. If you want to start a cut in the middle of a tile you have to first drill a hole through the tile where you can insert the blade and start the cut from. Drilling holes in tile is done with a carbide or diamond drill bit. The hole should be at least 3/8″ (9.5mm) wide.
Can You Cut Curved Cuts And Circles In Tile With A Jigsaw?
You can make slight curves in ceramic tile with a jigsaw. But since the ceramic tile is hard, stiff, and rigid it can be challenging to cut any sharp radiuses in tiles with a jigsaw. To cut circles in tile we can use circular diamond drill bits, specialized circular tile cutters, or an angle grinder with a diamond blade.
Here is a great example of someone cutting a circle in tile with an angle grinder. I only recommend doing this if you are experienced and skilled with an angle grinder, this is not something I would be comfortable doing yet.
But it is pretty amazing to see how people find solutions for these hard cuts.
How To Cut Ceramic Tiles With A Jigsaw
Ceramic tiles are brittle and prone to cracking. To cut through ceramic tile, you will need a power tool with an abrasive blade.
Fortunately, a jigsaw with an abrasive carbide (or diamond) edge can cut ceramic tile cleanly and safely – plus it can make notches, slanted cuts, and openings that few other power tools can.
It is important to note when using a jigsaw to cut tile it should be used for smaller, more intricate cuts and not your “main cutting tool”.
Even though it is possible to cut full tiles with a jigsaw, there are better tools that can do the job much better and much more efficient.
Items Needed To Cut Ceramic Tiles (With A Jigsaw):
Of course, you will need a jigsaw. In this case, it won’t even need to have an orbital action option, since any extra vibration will hamper rather than help the jigsaw blade as it tries to cut into the ceramic tile.
Blades: Typical jigsaw blades, with their sharpened teeth, will cause the tile to crack and break apart. The blade you need to use is an abrasive carbide edge blade, or a diamond blade.
They look very similar but use different materials in their abrasives and the cost is also varied. Check out the images below from Home Depot to get a feel for how similar they really look.
Measuring Marking: Just like with all jigsaw cuts, you will often need to mark out accurate cutting lines.
You will need your tape measures when measuring the length and width of your workpiece and speed square if you want to do square cuts.
If you want to go for curved cuts across one or more tiles, you will also need a beam compass or a template.
Drill And Drill Bit: If you need to start a cut in the interior, you will need a drill with a glass tile or ceramic bit to make a starter hole inside the tile.
You will also need starter holes for the corners and sharp turns of your design, as well.
Coolant: Remember that you will have to lubricate and cool the blade as it makes the cut. You can either have a squirt bottle handy to give the blade a squirt of water every now and then, or you can have a hose running a bit of water along the surface of the tile.
Using a coolant is optional and really just makes the blade last a little bit longer. You don’t have to use a coolant if you don’t want to.
Use extreme caution when using any type of power tool and water together. It can be very dangerous!
Clamps: You will need to have a way to securely clamp the tile to an elevated work surface, with enough clearance for the jigsaw blade to move up and down.
Protection: Finally, you will need to put on eye protection and a face mask to protect yourself from the ceramic dust ejected in the process of cutting the tiles.
How to Cut Straight Lines In Ceramic Tile
Making notches, angled cuts or square cutouts is typically the most common “straight cuts” you will make on ceramic tile using a jigsaw but the basic principles apply for cutting all of them.
To cut a square or angled cut in ceramic tile, first use a straightedge to mark the cut line on the ceramic tile that will guide your cut.
To help you make longer cuts an opening that will span several tiles, it will help if you first lay out the tiles in the order that they go on the work area.
Label or number the tiles to keep track of their order and orientation. It helps to also mark the waste side with an X, especially if you are marking several tiles at once.
Install a carbide edge or diamond edge blade on your jigsaw, making sure that it’s one that is designed for ceramic tile.
These blades use a grinding instead of a chiseling action to make the cut, which lets them safely work on brittle materials.
To safely cut ceramic with a jigsaw, it’s crucial that the workpiece is secured well. Secure the tile between two wood blocks or MDF boards that are clamped tightly on to a workbench or a saw horse, with the cutting line suspended.
Check that there’s enough clearance for the jigsaw blade to work with.
It helps if the cutting line is as close to the workbench or saw horse as possible to minimize chattering and vibration.
After drawing your outline, turn on your jigsaw and set it on low speed and wait for the jigsaw blade to gain speed.
The moment that your jigsaw blade is up to speed, slowly cut your way through the ceramic tile until you finish your cut.
Focus on following the cutting line, and let the abrasive jigsaw blade do the work. Keep the cut cooled and lubricated with a little bit of water to keep the blade cooled and clean during the process.
Be careful with water and power tools! A cutting oil will also work for this and help keep the blade cool.
How to Do an Interior Cut in Ceramic Tile Using a Jigsaw
Interior cuts in ceramic tile are often done to cut out openings for wall outlets and taps. To do an interior cut in tile, you will need a power drill, a drill bit and a jigsaw.
SHDIATOOL DIAMOND JIG SAW BLADES
Mark out the area that you want to cut out and place an “X” inside of that area to make it clear what side of the line your blade is goint to cut on. Then, attach a glass or ceramic bit on the power drill.
Some bits have a cutting spade-shaped tip, while others come with carbide tipped ends.
Below are three examples from Home Depot’s website that show the different types of drill bits that are made for drilling a pilot hole through tile.
Make sure that the bit will leave a hole large enough for the jigsaw blade to fit through.
Make sure the tile is secured tightly before making any of the starter holes so it doesn’t move on you while you are drilling.
Drill a starter hole in the waste side of the cutting line for every other corner of the cut you wish to make. If you are cutting out a rectangle, for example, you will need at least two starter holes (at opposite ends) for all the corners of the cut.
Drill Pilot Holes For Interior Tile Cutouts
The rounded edges of the starter holes also mean that the tile is much less prone to cracking on the corners.
Take the jigsaw and position the blade inside the starter hole, while making sure that the blade follows the cutting line and that the shoe is flat against the tile surface. Start the tool, and let the jigsaw blade get up to speed.
Ease the running blade against the tile workpiece, and FOCUS on following the cutting line – let the blade do the work.
Make sure that the blade and the tile stay cool by either squirting some water periodically on the cut or by doing the cut under a small amount of running water.
How to Cut Curved Lines In Ceramic Tile
To cut curved lines in ceramic tile using a jigsaw, for a shorter, thinner carbide jigsaw blade with a medium or high grit. These are also used for hardened material such as glass and marble.
Cutting out general curves are pretty much the same process described above and there is really no difference in procedure, you will just pay closer attention to the blade and make sure it stays within your cut line.
While cutting, FOCUS on following the cutting line – let the abrasive grit do the work of removing the material.
For tight corners, you may have to add pilot holes in order to make the turn.
The more sharp turns that your design has, the more starter holes you’ll need to put in. You can also use these holes to cut relief lines to make cutting out intricate designs easier.
Tile jig saw blade
Diamond Grit jig saw blades
A tough and rugged diamond grit jig saw blade for exceptional performance on hard tile and stone.
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TARGET USERS Professional Tile Installation, Plumbers, DIY Users
Diamond Grit recip saw blades
A tough and rugged diamond grit reciprocating blade to meet the toughest of cutting challenges.
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Carbide Grit jig saw blades
A range of tough tungsten carbide grit jig saw blades that will deliver excellent performance in a wide range of applications.
FEATURES Tough brazed carbide grit edge will withstand abuse and give long life. Smooth non binding cutting action does not snag. SIZE RANGE 2-3/4” to 4” TARGET USERS Professional Tile Installation, Plumbers, DIY Users