If you have ever had to do flooring or work with hardwood or tile, then you probably know just how difficult and annoying it can be to get certain pieces of tile or flooring. More specifically, the part of the tile or floorboard that is located under hard to reach areas like the cupboard, dressers, or drywall. This is so difficult, that there is actually a specialty tool designed to deal with just this specific situation, which is the Toe-Kick Saw.
What is a Toe-Kick Saw?
A toe-kick saw is basically a circular saw with an extended arbor on which the blade is mounted. It is used to cut the tiles, luan, vinyl (or similar sub-floor materials) under the kick space close to the cabinet base.
You can also use it to flush cut tiles closer to walls and cabinet base. Hence it is also known as flush cut saw.
The toe-kick saw is a specialty saw with a unique design and is meant for a specific purpose. Probably the best way to describe the saw is that it has a handle jutting out of the right side of the tool. You use the handle to help guide a circular blade protruding out of the front of the saw. The overall shape of the toe-kick saw makes it easy to get into places that would normally be impossible to reach if you were using a regular saw.
What is a toe kick or Toe Space?
A kick space (also known as toe kick and toe space) is the gap between the front of the cabinet and the base and the floor. A kitchen cabinet with a countertop is usually mounted on a base that is slightly inside. This forms a notch between the floor and cabinet front to the base that allows you to stand comfortably and work without strain.
Before the toe-kick saw was around, the only way to truly cut under cabinets or dressers was to remove them completely. This could be quite painstaking, as you can imagine. Thankfully, with a toe-kick saw, you just have to position the blade in-between the space from the bottom of the cabinet to the top of the hardwood. If you are using the saw to cut out tile by cutting the filling, then you can also use the toe-kick saw there to great effect. Just position the blade along with the filling and you can cut out tile quickly and efficiently.
What is a Toe-Kick Saw Used For?
As has already been said, the main use of the toe-kick saw is to cut flooring material without having to resort to moving cabinets, built-in-furniture or things like that. While it can have some other uses, this is the primary reason why you might want to either rent or invest in a toe-kick saw.
Using a Crain 775 Saw to cut and replace tiles. Click to see more details
Now, this isn’t exactly something that you do a ton (unless you are a dedicated contractor), which is why toe-kick or flush cut saws are fairly niche tools. Most people can reasonably get by without bothering too much to invest in one.
By now, the pros and cons of this type of tool should be fairly obvious. The advantage of owning a toe-kick saw relates to how the tool can make a traditionally difficult job (cutting up subflooring) extremely simple. It removes the need to remove things like cabinets from your kitchen, which can shave a lot of time off the total amount of time it takes to remodel a kitchen. It also saves you a lot of time and money in the end as well.
The downsides to this saw relate to the fact that once you get out of the tool’s specific niche, it really doesn’t excel at any particular job. While you can use a toe-kick saw outside of its designated niche, there really isn’t a reason to do so. This is why this is such a popular tool option to rent since it isn’t really a tool that you need on hand all that often.
Best Toe Kick Saws
The brands Crain and Chicago electric make the best toe-kick saws. Other brands include Ironton and Gino development and toolman.
#1. Crain 775 – Professional Toe-kick Saw
The Crain 775 is what most professional use. It is a reliable saw that can perform heavy-duty tasks. Crain manufactures a series of special-purpose power tools including this model.
One of the key features of this saw is a clutch system that will reduce the chances of kickback. The mechanism works by disengaging the clutch when excessive load is forced on to the blade.
This is a highly useful safety feature if you accidentally cut in the reverse direction or in a curved path.
- Strong metal body
- Anti kickback clutch mechanism
- Excellentm long term performance.
- Expensive compared to other models
- Fixed depth
#2. Ironton Toe-Kick Saw
#3. Gino Devoplment
How To Use A Toe-Kick Saw
If you just got a brand-new toe-kick saw and are a bit confused as to how to get started with it, don’t worry, as that is a very common issue. In this section, you are going to see strategies that you can follow to start using your flush-cut saw like a pro.
Step 1: Position the blade
Believe it or not, the first thing that you should always be doing when using a toe-kick saw is positioning the blade. Even before you turn on the tool or even plug it in, first you should position the blade where you plan to cut.
Step 2: Plug the tool in and start the motor
Once the tool’s blade is firmly in place, it is time to turn on the tool. Start by plugging in your saw, get a firm grip on the tool, and then start the motor.
Step 3: Tilting the saw
Once the saw blade has begun to power up to full speed, slowly turn it until it reaches the depth that you want to cut at. If at any point, you begin to hear something that sounds like grinding, then you have gone too far and will need to reposition the blade.
Step 4: Stopping the saw
Finally, you want to make sure that you follow standard safety procedures when dealing with a bladed power tool. Take your hand off the power and let the blade come to a complete stop before making sure that the tool is unplugged.
Toe-Kick Saw Alternatives
The two main alternatives for toe-kick saws are Sawzall and oscillating multi tool. For replacing a single tile, a sharp chisel is probably a better substitute. I do not recommend alternatives such as angle grinders since they are dangerous and not very effective.
Can these alternative tools really replace a toe-kick saw? Let’s find out.
Some people, as a substitute to investing in a specialty saw, will recommend using alternatives. This means other tools that can do the same job. Certain tools will often get recommended as alternatives to the toe-kick saw. In particular, you will often see some claim that you can get by with using an angle grinder, a Sawzall (a kind of reciprocating saw), a multifunction oscillating tool or in some cases a jamb saw.
Sawzall vs Toe Kick Saw
A Sawzall or a large reciprocating saw is perhaps the most effective alternative. Equipped with a 12” or 15” blade they can cut the tiles under the toe space.
However, if not careful, trying to use a Sawzall to cut subflooring could result in some nasty backlash and a damaged tool.
Toe-kick Saw vs Multi tool
An oscillating multi-tool is another option.
The advantage of a multi-tool is that it is very easy to control. Also, they are safer when compared to an angle grinder or Sawzall.
However, a multi-tool will take forever if you have some serious cutting to do.
How about angle grinder?
I would not recommend angle grinder as an alternative. They are difficult to reach corners and can be very dangerous.
Perhaps the safest alternative is to use the good old chisel and hammer. A sharp chisel can often do the trick if you are ready to sweat.
The problem with these kinds of alternatives is that, while yes, they are capable of doing some of what the toe-kick saw does, they don’t do it quite as well. In the end, it is just better to go with a toe-kick saw instead of trying to find an alternative.
Safety Issues and Precautions
As a veteran tool user, you probably don’t need to be told that every tool needs to be used safely. The same is true with the toe-kick saws.
- Ensure that the blade direction right and is tightened properly.
- Use the right blade for the job.
- Always make sure that any obstructions are moved far away from the blade.
- Likewise, always keep an extremely firm handle on the tool to prevent yourself from accidentally losing control of the tool if it jolts.
- Toe kick saws spew a lot of dust. So wear safety mask and glasses to protect your nose and eyes.
The same general safety precautions pertinent to most bladed saws also apply to this power-tool.
Toe-Kick Saw FAQ
Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions on the use of this saw.
Can a toe kick saw cut tile?
Yes. Depending on the tile material you have to use the right blade to cut a tile. For softer materials like wood flooring, you can use a carbide-tipped wheel and for harder tiles use a diamond blade.
Can you cut ceramic tiles with toe kick saw?
Yes. Make sure that you get a diamond toe kick saw blade to cut hard floor tiles.
How do you cut wood to flush a wall?
To cut the wood flooring flush to a wall you have to use a flush-cut saw (toe-kick) or a jamb saw.
What are the standard toe kick height and depth?
The toe kick space height is generally 3 ½ inches to 4-inches and 3 inches deep.
What size blade do I need?
Toe-kick saws are designed to work with blade sizes up to 3-3/8 inches in diameter. The most commonly used are 3 3/8” (Crain No. 787), 2 3/4” and 2 5/8” diameter blades.
So, now you know that if you are ever doing serious home renovations that are going to require you to cut through subflooring, then you need to ditch every other tool and invest in a good toe-kick saw. Regardless of if you rent or buy, you are going to be thanking yourself when your job (and therefore, your life) is made a lot easier by using it.