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How to Use a Masonry Saw Blade

A masonry saw is very different from your standard table saw used to cut wood, and one of the main differences is in the blade. No doubt you’ve seen that a blade for an electrical wood-cutting saw has lots of sharp metal teeth all around the outer edge of the blade. These teeth are sharp enough that when the blade is rotating fast enough, it will cut through wood like a hot knife through butter. But masonry saw blades are a very different beast.

A masonry saw blade might look odd to someone with no experience. That’s because there are no “teeth” on the blades used for masonry saws, tile saws, brick saws, etc.; instead, the outer edge is covered in a strip of small diamond particles, which are stuck to the blade with a softer metal called the “bond”. That’s why masonry saw blades are often referred to as “diamond blades”.

How masonry saw blades work

Unlike wood-cutting saws, which actually slice through the material (and your fingers if you aren’t careful), diamond blades grind through hard materials like brick, tile, stone, granite, concrete, etc. As you know, diamond is the hardest material on earth, making it the best and often the only choice to cut these tough materials.

If the diamond blade is properly matched to the material being cut, the sharp diamond particles will grind through the material. At the same time, the abrasive material will slowly strip away some of the metal bond, ensuring that you always have fresh, sharp diamond particles to work with.

How to use a masonry saw blade (or tile saw, or brick saw)

As I implied above, it’s very important to pick a diamond blade that is indicated for the exact material you’ll be cutting. Otherwise, you’ll wear through the blade too fast, or you’ll be left with dull diamonds and have to sharpen the blade manually to get it to cut again.

The other critical thing to know about masonry saw blades is whether they are designed for wet cutting or dry cutting. The vast majority of masonry cutting is done wet because this practically eliminates silica dust from being kicked up into the air (which can cause lung cancer and other serious problems), because it extends the life of the blade, and because there’s less risk of cracking and chipping on the material you’re cutting due to reduced friction and heat. Remember: it’s okay to use a dry blade for wet cutting, but you can NEVER use a wet blade for dry cutting.

Now it’s just a matter of ensuring the blade is the proper size for your saw and attaching it properly according to the saw’s owner’s manual. The ideal situation is to use a masonry saw or tile saw that has a build in water pump. In a pinch or in a tight space, people sometimes will fit the masonry saw blade to a portable circular saw and have an assistant carefully cool the blade and material with a garden hose, but this is pretty risky and we don’t recommend it unless it’s absolutely necessary.

In terms of technique, all you have to know to use a masonry blade correctly is to let the blade do the work. Don’t put too much pressure on it to make it cut faster, or push from the sides to try to steer the blade. Finally, if your material is thin or delicate and keeps chipping or breaking as you finish the cut, you can try carefully pressing the sides of the material towards the center during the last inch or so of cutting.

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