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How to cut a right angle on tile without a tile saw

Updated February 21, 2017

A tile saw effectively cuts dense tile like marble or stone, but if you are installing ceramic tile, there are much easier ways to make your cuts. If you apply uneven pressure to two sides of ceramic tile, it will snap in two fairly easily. You can use this to your advantage by scoring a line on the tile and forcing the tile to break along that line. To make a right angle on the inside of the tile--for instance, to fit around a wall protrusion--the only way to complete the task without a saw is with tile nippers.

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  1. Draw the lines on the tile where you will make your cuts, using a straight edge. Extend each line from one end of the tile to the other, making an X where the two lines meet. Use a pencil if it will show up; otherwise, use a grease pen. Mark the front side of the tile, not the back.

  2. Place your straight edge against one of the two lines. Drag your tile scribe along the straight edge, cutting a line into the tile.

  3. Place a wire on the floor or table in front of you. Tape it down and ensure that it is perfectly straight.

  4. Place the cut line directly over the wire and apply pressure to both sides of the tile. The tile will split into two directly on the line.

  5. Repeat the process for the other line on the tile, leaving a right angle cut away from the outside of the tile.

  6. Draw the rectangle or square that you want to remove from the tile on the back side of the tile with a pencil.

  7. Place the head of your tile nipper over the corner and pull the handles together, taking a chip out of the tile.

  8. Take these chips out of the tile until you have remove the entire area you marked off, leaving a right angle taken out of the inside of the tile.

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Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Grease pen
  • Metal straight edge
  • Tile scribe
  • Wire
  • Tile nippers

About the Author

Shawn McClain has spent over 15 years as a journalist covering technology, business, culture and the arts. He has published numerous articles in both national and local publications, and online at various websites. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in journalism at Clarion University.

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