How to Cut Stone Tiles With Hand Tools

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Things You'll Need

  • Hacksaw with tungsten carbide blade

  • Marker

  • Straight edge

  • Tile scribe

  • Nippers

  • Hammer

  • Sharp chisel

  • Drill with diamond bits or hole saw bits

  • Dremel tool with diamond wheel or grinder bits.

Most people use a wet saw to cut through stone such as granite and marble because the surface of the stone is extremely hard. The wet saw makes precise cuts, keeps the dust down and cools the stone. Not every home-improvement job is big enough to rent or buy a wet saw, and sometimes it's better to cut stone tiles with hand tools. Hand tools are good for the cut that's inside the tile, including a hole for plumbing or small jobs in which you only need to make a few cuts.


Step 1

Secure a hacksaw with a tungsten carbide blade. The tungsten carbine bonds to the steel on this hacksaw blade and allows you to cut very hard tiles including marble, glass and granite. This type of tool is useful for small cuts but takes a bit of time compared with a wet saw. If you have a lot of cuts to make, it may not be the best tool for you.

Step 2

Mark the line with a marker and use a few downward thrusts of the hacksaw to score the tile. You can also use a tile scribe with a tungsten carbide tip and a straight edge to score a path for your hacksaw. Once you score a line, use a sawing motion to continue.


Step 3

Use nippers to make rough cuts or cut near the edge of tiles. A nipper is a tough, curved pliers-looking hand tool that is useful if you have a small edge that needs a cut. The biting blade is carbide, which makes it strong. Unless you have a lot of practice, don't expect a perfect cut. Mark the cut line with a wax pencil and then put the sharp edge of the nipper onto the line you created and squeeze the handles. It snaps off the tile. If you have a curved cut, draw the curve and then divide it into 1/2-inch sections and nip away a bit at a time.

Step 4

Sample a technique from artists. The technique is a hammer and a hardie. You place a chisel on the line and hit it with a hammer. It's not precise, but if you're chisel is sharp enough, you can use it for cutting marble tiles. Like the nippers, this is a good way to shave bits of stone tile off the edge.


Step 5

If you have a power drill with variable speeds, you can use a diamond hole saw bit to cut the holes. There are also drill bits with diamond tips that have a water feed to accurately make holes and keep the blade cool. The handy Dremel tool also has this attachment as well as a diamond cutting wheel that makes small jobs go fast. You can also use the grinder bits for the Dremel to peel away very small areas and smooth the sides.


Jay P. Whickson

Jay P. Whickson worked as an insurance rep, financial planner and stockbroker from 1979 until her retirement in 2007 when she began writing about the field of finance. Whickson has both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in education from Indiana University. She also has post Masters courses in science and a number of different insurance and investment designations and degrees.