- What to look for in a Power Tile Cutter
- Popular Wet Electric Tile Cutters in the UK
- Plasplugs DWW100 and DWW200
- Vitrex Power Tile Cutter 103402
- Clarke ETC8
- Rubi Electric Tile Cutter ND180
- Sealey TC180
- Clarke ETC180
- Einhell TC-TC618
- Vitrex Power Tile Cutter 103430
- Powerplus POWX230
- Plasplugs Tile Cutter DWW180
- Flexovit TT200EM
When it comes to tile cutters, there are essentially two major types, the non-electric manual tile cutter, and the electrically-powered one. Here at DIY-High, we like to focus on the powered versions of tools so this review of tile cutters will only focus on the most popular power tile cutters on the market today and we’ll leave the manual tile cutters for another time. But first, let’s delve a little into the various features on electric tile cutters that we need to understand before we can make an educated purchase.
What to look for in a Power Tile Cutter
Blade – Tile cutters come in different shapes and sizes and so do their blades. All tile blades that come with today’s consumer electric tile cutters are circular diamond-tipped, continuous blades that range in size from 110mm in diameter and upwards. Another metric to watch out for is the bore hole diameter (the part of the blade that fits over the motor’s spindle). The two most common bore hole sizes on today’s consumer devices are 22.2mm and 25.4mm.
Water cooling – The majority of power tile cutters incorporate a blade cooling system that usually consists of a reservoir of water located underneath the cutting surface in which the blade is partially submerged. After the blade has moved past the cutting interface it is cooled in the reservoir. At the same time, the water acts partially as a lubricant to facilitate better cutting action. The presence of water around the cutting area also has the added benefit of trapping and reducing the amount of dust that is released into the air when cutting through the rock-like materials of tiles which have the tendency to release a lot of dust when pulverised. Some more expensive tile cutting systems, like bridge saws (which will not be discussed here), use a submersible pump to run water more effectively over the cutting interface.
Angled cuts – Most electric tile cutters will usually provide the option to make mitred cuts so that the edge of a tile can be cut with a bevel. This is useful when tiling over an edge or ledge structure and by bevelling the adjoining edges of the tiles, a better overall finish is obtained.
Depth of cut – Power tile cutters have different sized motors and, for the most part, the higher the wattage or power of the motor, the thicker the tiling material which can be cut with the machine. Different tile types have different thicknesses and knowing the maximum thickness of tile that you are likely to be cutting will determine how powerful (and expensive!) a machine to go for. It is also important to remember that when cutting at an angle (ie. mitred cuts), the blade will actually have to pass through more of the tiling material, therefore the actual perpendicular thickness of a material that a particular machine is rated for cutting should be reduced if it is to be used for tile bevelling.
Portability – Are you moving from job site to job site on a regular basis, or is this just for home DIY use? Once you have determined how you will be using your tile cutter, you will then be in a position to determine your needs with regards to portability. How heavy should it be? Will it fit into the area or vehicle that you will need it to? Does it need a case for protection? and so on…
How easy is it to clean? – Cutting tiles with an electric wet saw is a messy business due to the amount of dust that is generated when a blade passes through ceramic, porcelain or other tile material. Most electric tile cutters these days use water to continuously wet the blade as it is cutting, which lubricates and cools the blade but also traps a lot of the dust. As a consequence, this dust-water suspension gets everywhere on the machine, and one needs to give a little thought about how it will perform at clean-up time. For instance, having a ridged cutting surface rather than a completely flat one can make life more difficult when trying to remove caked-in tile dust.
Popular Wet Electric Tile Cutters in the UK
** table size is not exact since dimensions were not available from the manufacturer
Plasplugs DWW100 and DWW200
At the most economical end of the electric tile cutter spectrum are machines that are, for the most part, made out of plastic. The tile cutters, DWW100 and DWW200 by Plasplugs are two such machines that are designed for the Do-It-Yourself-er rather than the trade professional. Although the plastic used is quite durable, they will not likely stand up to the test of time over many years and over many jobs typical of use by a professional tiler. They hold a relatively small 110mm diamond-tipped blade which together with a lower power motor, also limits tile cutting depth to 20mm. However, like bigger tile cutting machines, they do cut tile well and accurately as long as care is taken and the tiles are pushed across the cutting surface at a slow pace. The units can even handle tiles of almost any width and length if physical support is provided to the tile where it overhangs the unit. Of course, too wide a tile would prevent use of the fence so alternative methods would need to be devised to ensure a straight edge.
Just as with almost all power tile cutters these days, the machines can also cut at fixed angles necessary for the bevelling of tiles. All-in-all, the basic Plasplugs tile cutters are quite capable machines. One slight negative to note, however, is the inadequacy of the operating manual which is not particularly impressive especially considering which demographic the machines are aimed at. The explanation in the manual of how to set the machines up and operate them is quite poor. However, with a bit of trial and error and a couple of YouTube videos like the one below, once can quickly get the machines up and running and into the action! Considering the price of the Plasplugs tile cutters, they are good value for money especially for the DIY-er who just has a tilling project or two that needs doing.
Vitrex Power Tile Cutter 103402
Next in line is the Vitrex 103402, also known as the Torque Master Power Tile Cutter, which is one of the most popular consumer tile cutters on the market today. This is partly because it is a good basic cutter with a relatively powerful motor, but which is also very reasonably priced. Indeed at the time of writing, this Vitrex out-priced almost any other basic tile cutter on the market. The 103402 also uses a small 110mm blade on a plastic cutting surface. The motor is quite powerful at 450W allowing the machine to gracefully chew through up to 25mm thick tiles. However, once again for best cut accuracy, tiles should not be forced through. Slow and steady also has the added advantage of prolonging the life of the small blade. Of course, a lower price means that corners have had to be cut and the machine suffers from a few minor issues. One disadvantage with the machine compared to other tile cutters is in the high level of sound it emits when operating, so ear defenders are a must, especially when working for an extended length of time. Another quibble is that adjusting the fence can be a bit tedious since both ends have to be positioned and clamped for accuracy. In addition, due to its low weight, the cutter is also susceptible to being accidentally moved making it necessary to clamp it down to a workbench or similar. The Vitrex tile cutter also suffers from some of the same minor issues that are common to most other basic tile cutters. For instance, watch out not to overfill the water reservoir since, as with many of these consumer machines, it can lead to excessive spraying of water as the blade turns, soaking the operator and everything around it even with the blade guard in place. Unfortunately, not filling the reservoir too much causes a different issue, as the reservoir then needs topping up on a much more regular basis than one might consider convenient. Another inconvenience with this and with other tile cutters that have ‘drainage’ channels incorporated into their cutting surfaces are that the channels are susceptible to clogging with dust from previous tile cuts and cleaning them out can be a tedious process. However, despite these shortcomings, overall for the price, the Vitrex 103402 does get the job done and is great value for money.
Moving on from the plastic-based tile cutters, we have out first tile cutter with a metal cutting surface, the Clarke ETC8. The ETC8 is the smallest of the Clarke range of electric tile cutters. It is a robust little cutter which can cut a range of tile types. It has a powerful motor for its size which allows it to cut up to 33mm in thickness for a 90° cut and 22mm for a 45° mitre cut. Of course for its modest price, not everything is going to be perfect with the most complaints surrounding its plastic blade-guard. The blade safety cover is a bit on the flimsy side, and doesn’t easily lift up sufficiently as the tile tries to push past it requiring a little help from the operator. This is a common problem with many-a-table saw and usually operators get round this inconvenience by removing the guard altogether – a practice that is very much discouraged when using any sort of table saw. As with all the basic tile cutters, another common problem is the rapid emptying of the reservoir as the tile blade spins, sometimes only allowing two or three cuts to be made before the reservoir needs filling again. Part of the reason for the need to refill the reservoir frequently is that, like other basic machines, the reservoir on the ETC8 can not be excessively filled without having water spray a large mess around the machine. Another reason is that the ETC8 is not designed to recapture the water that ends up on the cutting surface since it has no drainage channels like those found on basic plastic-based machines. Another common issue has to do with the quality of the fence-locking mechanism which needs a bit of tinkering to get operating well. All-in-all, most buyers tend to be happy with the Clarke ETC8 tile cutter and would recommend it as a value for money proposition.
Rubi Electric Tile Cutter ND180
The Rubi ND180 is very similar to the other electric tile cutters in its category, such as the Clarke ETC180 and the Sealey TC180 (reviewed next), most likely because Rubi has sourced the machine from a manufacturer which uses many of the same parts suppliers. As a result, the ND180 performs very similarly to them and suffers from many of the same niggling issues. So read up on their reviews to get an idea of how this somewhat ‘generic’ machine performs. However, as they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so also check out the video below to get the best feel for the set up and operation of the ND180.
NB: One point of note is that the ND180 model has multiple selling variations and does NOT always come with a carry case nor a spare cutting blade as shown in the video – so do take notice of which variation you are buying!
The Sealey TC180 electric tile cutter is similar to a number of other tile cutters in this category possessing a 500W motor that can cut up to 35mm in a range of tile materials. However, unlike the basic plastic-based tile cutters discussed previously, the rotational speed of the TC180’s blade has been cleverly lowered to make the machine quieter. Like some other electric tile cutting competitors, the TC180 uses a sliding mechanism to rotate the whole metal cutting surface up to an angle of 45° for making bevelled cuts. Overall the machine gets positive reviews, although it does have a couple of niggling issues. First off, the tile guide fence can be a little tedious to slide about and get exactly level, while the thumb screw attachments that secure the fence in place can sometimes suffer from lax manufacturing tolerance. A second quibble that experienced tilers have often complained about is the design of the water reservoir tray. Although it works as it should, when it comes time to close up shop for the day and clean the machine, if the reservoir still contains any water, it can make it difficult to remove the tray without spilling the remaining water all over the place. However, it should be noted that this is not a problem limited to the Sealey TC180 – it is also common to a number of other similar machines reviewed here.
The Clarke ETC180 is one step up from its base ETC8 model discussed above, however, it is very difficult to differentiate between the two models under the hood. The machines have similar power motors which can cut to similar depths in a range of tile materials. They both use 180mm diamond-tipped blades which can also be used to make bevelled cuts up to 45° by angling the cutting table upwards. However, the one overriding difference between the two Clarke models is in the cutting table size. The ETC180 has a significantly larger cutting surface than its smaller sibling.
Clarke sources machines to bring under its own brand and usually does a reasonable job of ensuring a decent level of quality. However, sometimes manufacturing quality can be a little inconsistent which can be a problem for parts that need to be absolutely accurate. This is the case with the parallel fence which have suffered from manufacturing inconsistencies in the past making it difficult to get it to work properly. In addition, as was the case with the Sealey TC180, a small design flaw has been made with the water reservoir, which cannot be removed easily after it has been filled without spilling the water contained within it. However, this is not such a big problem since the machine tends to empty the reservoir as it is cutting, so there should not be much left in the tank anyway. In addition, the machine has been designed to work in an area where water spillage is not an issue (eg. outside). This is evident by the lack of any attempt to re-capture the run off of water from the cutting surface meaning the water tends to run off in all directions. One final warning with the machine, although some parts are rust-resistant (eg. the table top is chrome-plated), this does not mean, it wont rust, especially as it becomes scratched with regular use. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to dry down the machine throughly once one has finished, to minimise rusting and prolong its life.
The Einhell TC-TC618 is a German-made machine that is meant for the mainland European DIY market but being sold in the UK. This is immediately obvious when one looks at the accompanying operating manual and power plug. The manual is not in English (instead it is in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Dutch) and the plug is a European-style one instead of a UK one. Neither of these discrepancies is a deal-breaker for the internationalised British consumer, especially since the little bit of assembly required during set-up relies mostly on common sense, and the machine works fine on UK voltage once the plug has been changed.
The TC-TC618 is certainly a powerful machine and is able to handle almost any tile that is thrown at it cutting up to 35mm thick tiles although the cutting table size is on the small side so external support will have to be provided for bigger tiles. Like other tile cutters for the DIY market, the machine does suffer from a couple of drawbacks, some of which are a bit surprising considering its German pedigree. The most problematic feature is the blade guard bracket which is quite flimsy and can easily work loose after a bit of cutting, not something you want to happen on any sort of table saw. The other problematic feature is the parallel guide rail or fence used to ensure a straight cut. The locking nuts require a lot of effort to tighten so as to ensure the rail does not move, and this also makes ensuring the rail is exactly parallel to the blade a bit of a tedious process. In addition, when it does come time to move the fence again, the over-tightening of the thumb-nuts only makes life just that little bit harder. As with other machines, the water spray over the cutting surface can make for a very messy work environment, and since the machine is not really designed to recapture the water it ‘uses’ up, one once again has to keep refilling the reservoir every couple of minutes or so – something quite common within this category of electric tile cutter. Overall, a powerful machine for the price but with a couple of shortcomings.
Vitrex Power Tile Cutter 103430
The Vitrex 103430 is one of the tiling and flooring company‘s more powerful models in its 6-member line-up of electric tile cutters. The machine has a 650W motor which allows it to cut tile up to 30mm thick. Like its siblings, it is also able to do fixed mitre cuts at 22.5° and 45°. The Vitrex 103430 is unique in that it has integral support for larger tiles built into its design through a table extension, a feature you don’t often see on tile cutters. The designers of the machine have also listened to customer feedback and tried to design the water cooling system so that it minimises splashing around the machine while at the same time eliminating the need for frequent reservoir filling. However, their attempts have only been partially successful, as it still seems to make quite a mess. Operating the fence is also a little tedious as setting it at a particular location involves lining up both the front and back attachments individually to ensure it is perfectly parallel to the cutting blade. A better design would have required the setting of just one end of the fence with the other end moving perfectly square to it, possibly with some way to calibrate it when necessary. Finally, it would also have been better to incorporate some sort of locking mechanism on the extension arm to prevent it from inadvertently being pushed back in when its being used. Other than for these few niggling issues, the Vitrex 103430 is a good machine to get and is generally liked by owners.
The POWX230 is a powerful machine using a 750W motor allowing it to easily slice up to 34mm thick tiles. Its construction is similar to the Clarke ETC180 and the Sealey TC180, clearly using several parts from the same suppliers. As with its similar competitors, the POWX230 suffers from the same problem of the reservoir being impossible to remove without spilling the water inside it, but on the PWX230, this is made worse by the need to completely fill the reservoir in order to submerge the tip of the cutting blade. Other than that design oversight, the machine works very well. Once again, the best way to get a feel for how good the machine is is to see a video of it in action. To see the POWX230 at work, check out the video below – unfortunately it is in German so if you don’t understand German it might not be as useful as it could be, but it’s still well worth seeing the machine at work beforehand if you are considering purchasing it.
Plasplugs Tile Cutter DWW180