Best Manual Tile Cutters and How to Use Them

Manual tile cutters help you to save time and avoid a mess. You can use snap cutters, tile nippers, and carbide pencils at your work location instead of running to your wet tile saw each time.
Best Manual Tile Cutter

Score and Snap Tile Cutter

Snap tile cutters come in several different styles. Some are budget-friendly, while others approach the price of a wet tile saw or a masonry saw.

You need this tool when installing tile on a floor, wall, or ceiling because most structures are not square. You’ll need to create edges by cutting your preferred product to an appropriate size.

Manual Tile Cutter 24-inches

Other tools besides the score and snap tile cutter can accomplish this goal for you, but none of them offer the same combination of portability and strength.

Although most porcelain tiles don’t score well with this tool, any ceramic installation project you have will benefit from its presence.

How to Use a Score and Snap Tile Cutter

The score and snap tile cutter has a metal ridge and a tungsten carbide scoring wheel running parallel to it. You should move the scoring wheel across the tile firmly to create clean cuts.
Here are the steps:

  1. After measuring the cutting dimensions, mark where you intend to score the tile with a wax pencil. This step ensures a marker or pen won’t damage the product.
  2. Place the tile over the metal ridge and ensure that the market cut line is parallel to the path of the scoring wheel.
  3. Firmly move forward the scoring wheel across the tile surface’s face. Once you have completed this step, place the pressure bar pad across the tile.
  4. Once you have completed this step, place the pressure bar pad across the tile.
  5. Apply firm, downward pressure on each side. You won’t want to stop until you get a snap across the score-line you created. High-end models tend to have more stability because they weigh more, with a miter guide included making the angle cuts easier.
  6. Continue scoring and snapping based on your measurements until you have completed the project.

Tile Nippers

Tile nippers are a tool used to make circular cuts in ceramic tile. It is a useful option for when a tile saw or snap cutters cannot create the custom line you need.

Tile Nipper

If you work on a tile saw to create a curved cut, you’d need to make several straight cuts into the product that meet your mark. Once you eliminate that material, you nip at the fingers left behind until a smoother surface is available.

A rub brick would then be necessary to smooth out the edges of your cut.
This technique causes significant blade wear, requires excessive cutting, and the results are similar to what a tile nipper creates.

How to use a tile nipper

Here’s how you can use a tile nipper to do this successfully.

How to use a nipper to cut tiles

1. Make your measurement mark.

Use a wax pencil to trace the mark you need to create on the tile. Once it is in place, use a glass cutter to score the area. This introductory step reduces the risk of having the tile snap off beyond the mark.

2. Use small nips to remove tile.

Take your time with a tile nipper. Going too fast with this tool increases the risk of having the tile break beyond your mark. It helps to keep working your way across the tile, making gradual cuts while eliminating the waste area. Once you get within 1/8-inch of your scored line, cut parallel to it for a precise result.

3. Take a rub brick to smooth the edges

Once you have completed the nipping process, use a rub brick to smooth the edges of your cut tile. Pay more attention to the areas that could get exposed to other household objects, such as a drain. Until you’ve rubbed them down, these spots can be exceptionally sharp.

4. Avoid using tile nippers for straight cuts.

A tile nipper is useful for rounded or curved cuts only. You’ll have more success with the score and snap cutter for straight lines or angled cuts.

If you use tile nippers with a porcelain product, it helps to keep a few sets of replaceable teeth available since the material can be quite hard.

Carbide Pencils

Carbide pencils are a useful scoring tool for the various cuts you may need to make on the tile. When using it with enough force, it has the power to make a simple, straight cut without much difficulty.

Carbide pencil type tile cutter

The pencil type cutter has is equipped with replaceable tungsten carbide wheel tips. A carbide pencil is not the tool you need for a hole or notched cut.

How to use pencil tile cutter?

  1. Remove the metal cap at the rear end of the carbide pencil and fill few drops of cutting oil.
  2. Use a marker pen to mark the cutting line. When you make cuts with this tool, it helps to use a speed square as your guide.
  3. Place the tile on a flat surface and hold it firmly.
  4. Score the cutting line by quickly dragging the carbide pencil across the tile several times. Make sure that you are holding the pencil at approximately 45° for the best results.
  5. Once you complete that step, snap the product along that line with the other side of the pencil.
  6. If you are cutting a glass tile, you can place the pencil cutter below the tile right below the scored line and press down on either side using your thumbs.
  7. You need to use a rubbing stone to smooth the edge of the tile after completing the cut.

How to cut tile with pencil type cutter

Carbide pencils use the same principle as the score and snap cutter to create the clean lines you want. The primary difference between the two tools is that the latter option uses mechanical leverage to create pressure while the pencil requires human power.

What Manual Tile Cutters Should I Use?

If you have a tiling project to complete, manual cutters can reduce your downtime by working in the same area that you’re laying tile.

When you have numerous straight lines to cut, a score and snap tile cutter is your best option. You can measure, mark with a wax pencil, and quickly break the ceramic to the needed size in seconds.

Carbide pencils are another budget-friendly choice to consider for straight lines. You can score the tile a few times with the tool, place pressure with it, and create the perfect shape for laying the next option.

If you have curved or rounded lines to cut in tile, the best tool to use is a tile nipper. Although it can be time-intensive work, this option works faster and cheaper than a wet tile saw or a similar power tool. This choice is the only manual selection available that reliably works with dense porcelain tile.

You may find that all of these manual tile cutters are useful for your next project. When you know what cuts need to happen, selecting the appropriate tool for the work is much more comfortable.