Although saws are typically used to cut wood, there are actually saws out there that are designed to cut tougher materials, including metal, tile, concrete, brick, and masonry. In this article, I’m going to introduce you to the masonry saw, which is a tool capable of cutting the toughest materials.
Masonry saws aren’t all that well-known to DIYers and hobbyists when compared to more popular saws, like table saws and circular saws. This is partially because most people aren’t cutting things like concrete and brick on a regular basis, meaning that these saws tend to only be used by professionals. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be useful for non-professionals as well. In this article, you’re going to find out everything that you need to know about masonry saws.
What is a Masonry Saw?
A masonry saw is a power tool with which you can cut granite, marbles, stones, tiles, brick, concrete, and other masonry used in construction. In order to cut through hard materials, the masonry saw utilize a diamond blade that spins at high speed. While you can get a dedicated tile saw or concrete saw, the masonry saw is a more versatile power tool and hence is a better choice for home improvement work.
Depending on the design, the masonry saws can be classified into two.
- Masonry Table Saw
- Handheld Masonry Saw
Masonry Table Saw
The table type saw has a blade attached to a drive motor and a sliding table that can move towards the rotating blade. Generally, masonry table saw is wet type and is able to cut masonry slabs accurately along a straight line. The one with the table is the most commonly used by building contractors and construction workers.
Handheld Masonry Saw
The handheld masonry saw which is also known as disc cutter is mainly used for cutting through reinforced concrete, bricks, paving stones, etc. for demolition and repair works.
As you can see in the above image, the head-held version is a portable saw that works similar to a circular saw or an angle grinder. But it is a piece of heavy-duty machinery and with powerful drive motors. These types of saws are usually dry cut type with some models equipped with dust collection systems.
This saw is also often referred to as handheld concrete saw.
Masonry Saws Uses
What is a masonry saw used for? Masonry saws have a wide variety of uses. They are mainly used for the construction of buildings, roads, home improvement, and repair works. Unlike regular saws, which can really only cut wood, masonry saws are capable of cutting a wide variety of tough materials provided that it is equipped with the correct blade.
Cutting tough materials
So, the first and foremost use of a masonry saw is to cut through tougher materials. Now, let me be clear, you can use table saws, circular saws, and most other kinds of saws to cut through tougher materials like metals.
But masonry is a different ballgame.
If you use a regular circular saw on stones you are going to run into the problem of the saw dying quickly. Regular saws simply don’t have the horsepower to cut through harder materials effectively. They also cannot cut very straight unless you use a guide rail system.
Masonry saws have the horsepower and durability to reliably cut through tough materials that are commonly found on construction sites (which is where the masonry saw gets used the most). So, what exactly qualifies as tough materials? Well, think of things like stones, bricks, or concrete.
A masonry saw can make easy work of those sorts of tough materials. Likewise, materials like metal can also be cut using a masonry saw, although it does require specialty blades. However, if your main task it to cut lot of metal, I would suggest you use a metal cutting chop saw for this purpose.
What type of blade is used on a masonry saw?
The most commonly used wheel on a masonry cutting saw is the diamond wheel. To cut any material you need a blade that is harder than the work-piece. Here the minute diamond particles that is welded over the wheel acts as the cutting blade.
The reason a masonry saw is able to cut through these tough materials is that they don’t really “cut” in the same way that most saws do. Most blades on a masonry saw are going to be what are called “abrasive blades.” These kinds of blades use abrasive particles to “cut” through materials. The fact that they don’t use teeth like most saw blades, is what enables them to cut through hard materials.
Dry vs Wet Masonry Saws
One of the main ways of categorizing masonry saws is by the way that the saw is cooled. Because masonry saws use friction to cut through materials, they generate a lot of heat. If that heat wasn’t cooled, the saw would eventually overheat and break. Masonry saws are generally cooled in one of two ways. Dry masonry saws have internal mechanisms to prevent overheating. Wet masonry saws utilize water to prevent overheating.
Since water cooling is more effective, wet masonry saws tend to be a bit more powerful because there is less of a fear of overheating.
A dry saw can produce a lot of dust filled with harmful silica particles. This is another advantage of wet masonry saw where the water jet washes away the cutting dust that contains silica.
Masonry Saw vs Tile Saw
Masonry and tile saws fulfill the same general role as concrete cutting tools, but they go about it in different ways.
The main differences between a masonry saw and tile saws are the depth of cut and the blade to workpiece movement. A masonry saw has a higher maximum depth of cut that enables it to cut thick granite slabs, stones, and bricks. On the other hand, the tile saw lower cutting depth which is suitable for slicing tiles.
You also have to use them differently as well. With a masonry saw, you bring the material to the rotating blade. With a tile saw, it’s the other way around where the rotating blade is fed across the station work-piece.
|Masonry Saw||Tile Saw|
|Design||Fixed blade and sliding table. Or handheld saw.||Fixed table, moving blade|
|Working||Move the stone against the rotating blade.||The blade is moved across the stationary tile.|
|Cutting Depth||Higher maximum depth of cut||Lower depth of cut|
|Types of Cut||Generally only straight cuts. There are masonry saws with miter options.||Straight cute, miter cut and bevel cut.|
|Accuracy||Less accurate when cutting miters.||Better accuracy and more options to cut angles.|
|Uses||To cut granite, marble, stone, bricks etc.||To size ceramic and porcelain tiles.|
Masonry saws can also be portable, handheld saws. These are similar to a circular saw; but much larger in size. Tile saws, on the other hand, have their blade attached to a table. While the table is fairly portable, it doesn’t offer the same amount of mobility that a masonry saw does.
Masonry Saw vs Concrete Saw
Despite sometimes being used interchangeably, masonry saws and concrete saws are actually different things. A masonry saw as I have already discussed, is meant to cut tough materials like stones, granite, concrete, brick, etc. A concrete saw is an even more heavy-duty tool meant to cut through things like asphalt, a concrete wall, thick slabs of concrete, etc.
The concrete saw is also called slab saw or road saw because it is commonly used to cut large slabs of concrete from the road and asphalt during repair and maintenance.
A concrete saw is not going to be useful for your average DIYer and is basically only used in select professions. A masonry saw has a lot more practical use for your average person.
Final Thoughts :
Masonry saws are incredibly useful tools, and not just for professionals either. Next time you have a heavy-duty cutting job, considering investing in a masonry saw and see if that doesn’t make your life easier.