How to Use a Wet Tile Saw

  • 01 of 08

    Using a Wet Saw to Cut Tile and Artificial Stone

    Cutting tile with a wet saw
    lutherhill / Getty Images

    A wet tile saw is an essential tool for cutting ceramic and porcelain tile, stone, and manufactured veneer stone, both safely and efficiently. Wet tile saws are really the only way to get a good, professional cut. In comparison, snap tile cutters produce a ragged edge and the cut is not always predictable.

    But using a wet tile saw can be a fearsome proposition, and rightfully so. Water, electricity, and rapidly rotating diamond-encrusted blades combine to make this an experience that requires all of your attention. When used safely, wet tile saws can help you produce many cleanly-cut tiles to your exact specifications, in very little time. Not just that, bevels, small shapes, odd angles and more are possible only by using a wet tile saw.

    What Does a Wet Tile Saw Do?

    A wet tile saw is an electric table saw designed for cutting tile and stone that has the added feature of a water outlet that sprays water over the work material. The continually moving water reduces debris and dust, plus it cools down the cutting blade.

    Troubleshooting Tips

    Optimal wet tile saw operating conditions are:

    • Blade rotating at full speed
    • Tile sliding continuously toward and into the rotating blade
    • Water copiously flowing around blade and cutting area
    • No particles or dust flying outside of the blade area
    • No jams or kickbacks

    To maintain those conditions, make sure the water is always flowing by checking the tap located on the wet tile saw. Always bring the blade up to full speed before you push the tile or stone into the blade. If you find that there is too much debris, turn off and power down the saw and try adjusting the water nozzle. To prevent jams and kickbacks, keep the work material moving straight into the blade.

    Project Metrics

    • Working Time: 1 hour (for 16 square feet of tile)
    • Total Time: 2 hours
    • Skill Level: Intermediate
    • Materials Cost: $90 to $400 (saw only, tile not included)

    Tools and Supplies You Will Need

    • Wet tile saw
    • Clean 5-gallon bucket
    • Eye and hearing protection
    • Garden hose, 15-foot minimum
    • Short garden hose (3 or 4 feet) for collection pan drainage, if not included with your saw
    • Working outdoor faucet
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  • 02 of 08

    Connect Water to the Wet Saw

    With wet tile saws, you can either recirculate the same water within the collection tray or continually feed new water while draining old water.

    Recirculating water makes it easiest to run the machine inside because the process is somewhat drier. But it also means using water that has particles in it. While the machine is designed to strain out particles, sometimes the particles clog up the strainer. The wet saw must have a built-in pump to recirculate the water.

    Feeding new water means that the machine should best be operated outdoors. Water that hits the tile or stone is always clean. But water is wasted since the water is always draining into a bucket or onto the ground.

    Make the Wet Saw Connections

    First, attach the garden hose to the faucet.

    • Clean water enters the saw from the garden hose.
    • The wastewater drains out to a bucket or onto the ground.
    • In lieu of wastewater draining away, that hole in the collection tray is plugged.
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  • 03 of 08

    Connect Electricity to the Wet Saw

    Connect the wet saw to a household 120V outlet or other as specified by the instructions. 

    Electrical safety is a major part of using a wet tile saw. There are only a few remodeling tools where water and electricity are in such proximity, and this is one of them. Maintain a drip loop in the electrical cord leading from the saw to the outlet. The drip loop is lower than both the saw and the outlet, so that water does not drip down the cord and into the outlet.

    Wet saws with a recirculating pump will have two electrical connections: the one leading to the outlet and an internal connection to run the pump. 

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  • 04 of 08

    Place a Bucket for Wastewater

    Wastewater drains through the hose attached to the collection pan. The bucket must be lower than the wet saw to allow for the water to drain.

    It is usually better to have the wastewater drain into a bucket rather than directly onto the ground. This prevents puddles from developing where you are working and allows you to strain out debris before disposing of the water.

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  • 05 of 08

    Turn on the Water to the Wet Saw

    At the faucet, turn on the water to the saw. Make sure that the water is not flowing so fast that it splashes outside of the saw's drain tray. You can adjust the water flow both at the faucet and with the lever on the wet saw.

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  • 06 of 08

    Ensure That Water Is Flowing to the Saw Blade

    The water should be flowing freely all around the cutting end of the blade. If not, do not begin cutting. You could risk breaking the blade or the tile and you might incur serious injury. The water keeps both the blade and the tile cool and prevents particles from flying around.

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  • 07 of 08

    Turn on Power to the Wet Saw

    Make sure that all parts of your body are clear of the saw. With your hands dry and while wearing eye and hearing protection, flip the On/Off switch to "On."

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  • 08 of 08

    Push Tile Into the Blade

    When using a wet tile saw, the rotating blade head remains stationary. It is the sliding work tray containing the work material that moves into the blade. Push the tray slowly into the blade. The blade should easily cut through ceramic tile. Always keep your hands clear of the cutting blade.