Slab marble can be used in numerous places such as bathroom shower walls, kitchen countertops and bookshelves, as well as stair treads and thresholds. Marble is one of many natural stones that make up slab material, and just like all other slabs, it needs to be cut to fit your specific installation. While large-scale cutting should be left to professionals with commercial slab equipment, the average do-it-yourselfer can cut smaller marble slabs for specific installation requirements.
Marble is one of the world’s most beautiful and desirable natural stones. There are many types available that feature gorgeous and unique veining. The natural stone is very often used for home structures, including countertops. This guide will take you through the steps of how to cut marble.
For ordinary homeowners, cutting marbles may appear seemingly impossible. But with the right tools and knowledge, this particular task is achievable even without professional help. Do you want to know how to cut marble correctly? Then you should check out this DIY tutorial.
There are a lot of perks that you can get from learning how to create marble slabs by yourself. One of these is the flexibility it creates. It gives you the freedom and control to the cut size and style of the marble.
Moreover, it saves you money. You can see marble scraps and leftover marbles on stone yards and masonries that you can buy cheap. Aside from that, doing this project by yourself means that you don’t have to pay professional services at all!
Fabricators cut stone slabs using a number of machines. Much of the work they do is similar regardless of the machine the fabricator decides to use. However, there are variations, as well. Characteristics of the stone you are cutting impact the way you cut it. In this article, we will look at some popular natural and engineered stone materials. We will consider the common aspects of cutting all types of stone. Along the way, we will also look at specific qualities that certain stone types have and how that affects the cutting process.
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How to Cut Marble Properly
The first thing that you have to secure before you start this task is the cutting tool. Specifically, this DIY project requires you to have a wet saw. Technically speaking, a wet saw doesn’t cut the marble. Instead, they just grind the latter.
The blade of this tool has diamond crystals, which affixes to the edge of its segment. These crystals are effective against dense and sturdy objects. Through friction, the diamond blade efficiently grinds through any surfaces that it touches.
Make sure that you operate this saw where there is a continuous water source. The water will serve as a cooling agent of the blade. It guarantees that the blade won’t heat up easily, which results in its operational reliability and effectiveness. Moreover, the water also protects the structural integrity of the blade and marble itself.
Make sure that you exercise precaution while you are cutting marbles. After all, you will be using a beastly power tool. Do not forget to wear your protective gears, especially gloves and eyewear. It is also necessary that you wear earmuffs or any items that could protect your ears. This tool creates high-volume noises when running.
The clothes that you wear should not be loose. Otherwise, they can be caught up in the blade. That could result in dangerous consequences. A pair of rugged footwear is also necessary, as debris from the marble could fall directly to your feet. Additionally, you need to tie your hair, too.
Considering that you already familiarised how a wet saw works, you can already proceed to the cutting process. As we mentioned earlier, make sure that you set up the saw to a nearby power source. Alongside this, ensure that the water pump of the device is in good condition.
Place the marble slab that you are going to cut on thick and sturdy foam. Any non-abrasive surfaces could work, too. This step is necessary to protect the marble from scratches when you move it across the saw platform.
You should mark the marble on the area that you are going to cut. You can line tape on it and use a marker to create the guide. Make sure that the mark you draw is thick so that you can see it. After this, start pouring water on the front portion of the blade.
Align the marble on the wet saw and ensure that it is placed as flat as possible. The proper placement of the material allows you to accomplish this project efficiently. Also, it protects your fingers from being sliced off.
Once everything is okay, start cutting the marble. Do not rush this process. If possible, you should be slow as you want to ensure that the blade removes all the materials on its way. On the flip side, forcing or roughly pushing the marble against the blade will cause it to break or crack. Moreover, it could injure you as well as the blade can spit out big and sharp debris towards you.
Always keep a moderate pace to ensure the success and safety of the project. Just gradually move the marble through the saw until such time the entire slab passes through the blade.
If you are already done cutting the marble, shut down the wet saw and start refining the material. You can do this by refining the edges of the marble with the use of dry or wet sandpaper. Either way, you should begin with 120-grit sandpaper then switch to 2500-grit sandpaper. Sand the edges until they become smooth.
Do not ever use coarse sandpaper because it will just create scratches on the marble. If you do not want to do this process manually, you can use an angle grinder. This particular tool can quickly smoothen the finishes of your marble. Of course, you can say that this machine can generate better smoothing results than manually smoothening the material’s edges with your hands.
Clean all your stuff after cutting and finishing the marble. Your working area should be blemish-free. Dust off any scraps and residues that you see. Sweep the floor properly so that you can remove any shards or sharp objects coming from the marble. They could be potentially harmful, especially to unsuspecting individuals.
Cutting Natural Stone Slabs
The first main group of stone that we will examine is natural stone. Before we delve into how to cut natural stone, let’s define what we mean by “natural stone”. Natural stone, as we use the term, does not mean “any material that contains natural minerals”. Rather, we define it as stone slabs that are taken (quarried) directly from the ground and cut into slabs with no significant engineering.
Natural stone surfaces range in hardness and composition. So cutting stone slabs will vary to a certain degree. Both the hardness and the composition can impact the needed equipment and cutting procedure. The basic steps for cutting natural stone are:
- Select the proper diamond blade for cutting the targeted material.
- Set up your saw for cutting the stone slab.
- Measure the slab or set up your template for performing the cut(s).
- Turn on the water used to cool the stone and blade.
- Make the cut following the procedures laid out in the documentation for the saw and the stone.
In addition to performing your cuts using the proper procedure, you want to be sure your stone saw is maintained and in good working order. Inspecting it on a regular basis can reveal potential safety issues that could cause damage; or worse, injury.
Because marble is such a soft material, it can be tricky to cut if you do not have the proper blade or enough water to keep the kerf free of debris that will build up and make it more difficult to cut. Using a blade designed to cut marble can be a key to getting the best results.
Cutting granite is a bit of different story than that of cutting calcareous stones like marble (or limestone, travertine, onyx, etc.) because of its hardness. Granite blades need to be designed to cut in just the right way so that the blades wears “evenly” and gives you the best results. Additionally, you need a high-quality bridge saw that can accommodate the granite blade you choose. If you have the right quality tools, you will get the best results. Selecting the best Achilli USA Saw for the job and working with a good granite blade like the Grey Leopard would be a successful combination.
Quartzite is just as hard and even harder than granite, and when you cut it, you need to use a blade that is designed for cutting hard materials. A blade that has segments designed for cutting hard materials is your best choice as far as blades go.
One diamond blade that cuts quartzite extremely effectively is the White Lion by Weha. The White Lion offers a German silent core for a smooth and quiet cut. And the patented segment design speeds up the cutting by 35%.
Cutting Engineered Stone
It may seem like cutting stone slabs that are engineered surfaces would be the same as cutting natural stone. However, you might be surprised to find out that some engineered materials require more time to cut because of the nature of the material. That means that your shop may have to accommodate for this. For example, you might hold all the engineered jobs that take longer to cut until the end of the day. Or, you might have specific machines set up for only running those materials. We won’t get into the details of why these materials take more time right now, but we will in a minute. First, though, let’s start by looking at an engineered material that is fabricated in a similar way to granite.
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In many ways, quartz is cut very much like granite. This is because quartz is hard like granite. Quartz has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale. That is equal to the harder granites, which range from 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs hardness scale.
One thing to keep in mind though when you cut quartz is that the composition is different from that of natural stone. True, there is natural material in it. However, there is a high level of resin in the sheet (or slab) that you are cutting. This has an impact on the way you cut the material. How so?
The resins used in quartz surfaces cannot withstand extremely high temperatures. This means that when you cut quartz, you must keep the stone & the blade cool during the entire duration of the cut. Otherwise, you could cause the material to overheat. As a result, the stone can discolour form the heat. Using a blade that is designed to dissipate the heat and/or keeping the stone and blade cool with water are both effective when cutting quartz.
This engineered surface material is also very hard. It is harder than granite and quartz. As a result, it takes longer to cut porcelain slabs. One fabricator said in an interview that it could take as much as three times longer to cut porcelain and sintered stone (which we will get to shortly) projects than it takes to cut typical natural stone projects.
Besides the need to have the time to make the cuts on porcelain, using the proper blade can help too. If the proper blade for cutting porcelain is not used, you run the risk of chipping as you make your cuts. A popular blade for cutting porcelain is a continuous rim blade. “Continuous rim” means the blades don’t have segments. As a result, the rim is in constant contact with the stone and does not hit the edge of the stone with segments as it is making the cut.
Important Guidelines to Cut Cultured or Slabs of Marble
Meanwhile, the wet saw should be wiped and cooled first before you return it to its storage. Also, as you clean the wet saw, you can improve its longevity and performance.
Marble tiles have a beauty and elegance which can enhance any room of the house. Learning to cut marble tiles is a great skill to learn, that will not only quicken the completion of your project but also reduce chances of costly mistakes.
Adding a tiled marble wall, floor any such decorative accent to your home will improve its beauty and enhance its value in the market. But cutting marble slabs or cultured marble is a different ball game, altogether from other cutting jobs. A small marble tile job in such as entryway hall or kitchen sink may seem like an easy DIY project, but care must be taken about location, tools, etc.
With the availability of a large number of marble cutting tools, knowing which one to use maybe a confusing aspect. Apart from just choosing the tools, there are a variety of ways to cut marble based on where it will be installed. Knowing the proper way of installation of marble slabs can make a world of difference.
Cultured marble can be cut using a wide variety of tools. This range from a small jigsaw for small cut-outs to a circular saw for long sections such as kitchen countertops. If you need only to shave an edge, you can use a router.
Whatever be the tool you finally use, a diamond or carbide blade will be needed to cut into the cultured marble properly.
The types of tools you use for cutting marble will be dictated by the location for which you are installing the marble. For instance, if you are setting up a kitchen countertop, you must use a circular saw for the long section and use a jigsaw to cut out the sinkhole. On the other hand, a router can be used on the edges in case you cut a little extra wide when you are using the circular saw.
As for areas like cultured marble tubs or shower pans, a router and a jigsaw are used typically due to the range of motion and easy using, which they provide in tight spots.
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Some Handy Tips for the Job
There are wide arrays of tricks and tips that can be used while cutting cultured marble slabs. Firstly, use masking tape to tape off the area where you intend to make a cut. This helps prevent any chipping of marble during the process of cutting.
Another way to prevent chipping of edges during the process of cutting is cutting the material from the backside that will keep the chips on the backside of the marble product and will not be seen after it has been installed.
For cutting straight lines, use a pair of clamps along with a straight edge to push the circular saw against you so that you can maintain a steady and straight line down the length of the cultured marble. In case there emerge any chips, they can be smoothed down, using either a belt sander or manually by using sandpaper.
Another important tip is always to use dust mask, gloves and safety glasses while working with power tools.
Learning how to cut marble slabs and tiles properly is not just a thing for professionals. Even simple homeowners and weekend warriors can do this task. You need to acquire the necessary tools and materials to start this project. It also pays if you master or familiarise the use of a wet saw. That will drastically improve your working speed and efficiency.
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