Monday, January 21, 2008

Q: How long does it take to cut 5 tiles?

A: Four hours. Or when you realize it's 2PM and you've been working on this "simple project" since 10AM...too freaking long! So, what was the source of this long task? If you recall, Eric visited the Tile Shop yesterday for the purpose of having them render our more difficult cuts. Alas, as it turns out, they don't do circular cuts, so we were on our own, albeit with sound advice as dispensed by our trainers. I did some really easy straight cuts first - that slender row you see at the back of this pic:
Then it was on to tackle the more challenging pieces, the 3 pipes and air duct in the above photo. After measuring the first one backwards we managed to get it right, if in 3 horizontal pieces:

But, hey, that one's going to be under a vanity, so don't go peering down there the next time you use our guest bathroom! Eric only cracked one tile today in an attempt to use the hole saw to drill for the copper pipe in this photo. Meanwhile, I used the pro saw to whittle away one of the semi-circles for the toilet (our pro at the Tile Shop did one as an example):

Both Eric and I succeeded on this one:
After losing two tiles to cracking yesterday, Eric refined his method. Slow and steady with constant cooling periods resulted in a perfect circle:

Below is the master's workstation:
(Eric's insert) As some advice to anyone contemplating using a hole-saw on tiles before they are set, I'll explain the process I used referencing the photo below.
First, buy a ceramic hole-saw drill bit (attached to the drill). Then drill a guide in a block of wood (next to the drill). Next, remove the guide-bit in the middle of the hole-saw, as the bit puts too much pressure on one spot and can cause the tile to crack. OK, so put a piece of tape on the front face of the tile and mark the spot you want to drill on the tape. And trust me, double-check your measurement for the hole location. Don't drill from the back side as it can chip, drill top-down. Then, put down some paper-towels or rags on some plywood. Wet the rags/towels so the tile has a nice cool base to rest on. Get a bucket of water (small bucket on top to pour on the tile, larger bucket below to catch run-off) Next, mount the guide-block of wood over the mark on the tile. Secure it to the top of the tile and the tile to the plywood using clamps (you don't want it sliding all over). It's important to do this at counter-height, as you will be pressing down on the tile for quite some time. A bad angle or bending over too far will be very uncomfortable. OK. So you are all set up, the block is clamped to the tile, guide hole centered where you want to drill. Now, pour some water in the guide hole and start drilling. As I cracked 3 tiles when I first tried it, I found the best technique is patience. Put your weight into it but don't push too hard. I drilled for 25 seconds then stopped, submerged the hole saw in cold water and poured cold water onto the tile and let it cool. Even at 25 seconds, the water would get hot enough to steam. Then repeat. About 100 times. It took me 36 minutes to drill through 1 porcelan tile. Now, maybe I was gun shy having cracked 3 tiles, but 36 minutes and success beats 20 minutes of hard drillin' just to end up with a cracked tile. About every 10 minutes I would take the tile off the board and let it cool completely, even refreshing the cool water on the rag/towels under the tile. Then re-assemble the guide block, tile & clamps and return to drilling. (End of Eric's insert).

Once we'd built up our confidence we tackled the master bath. This was critical as we only had one full tile remaining for the toilet piece and one properly sized remnant for the copper pipe patch. Eric drilled the small hole while I cut the large tile into 2 pieces (a big one and a small square in the middle of the hole) and created the curcular cuts:
You'll have to take our word that this turned out perfectly as we didn't get a photo of it!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Looks good! Those were tricky little cuts.