Masonry saws, as the name would suggest, are used for cutting materials like bricks, stone, cement, concrete, granite, marble and even tiles. One of their most popular uses is to cut tracks or channels in these types of materials. These channels are then used for holding cables, conduits and pipes.
Mainly these type of masonry saws are used by professional contractors and would not be needed or found in your average home.
Some keen DIY people will own one of these as they are useful for cutting things like granite worktops, stones that you can use to make ponds, cultured granite, concrete board, flag stones for yards, cinder blocks, tiles and for doing cable runs along a wall.
Now personally we would recommend using a tile saw for cutting tiles. However a masonry saw is the ideal tool for all of those other tasks.
As a contractor myself I own a couple of these and they are necessary tools of the trade. You can buy them in different styles such as:
- Hand Held machines
- Stand mounted
- Disc Cutters
They can be powered by an air compressor, by electricity or by an engine depending on the size of the saw and the type of work it needs to be able to do. You can buy two types which are dry cut and wet cut. The “Dry Cut” saws are newer to the market.
The most important thing to understand about a masonry saw is that it has to be used correctly, and is very dangerous in untrained hands. The “Wet Cut” remains the most popular. This will be a saw that uses water to cool the blade and reduce the levels of dust.
If you work in the construction industry these are used every day and proper training is given by all responsible contractors. These are not saws that should be treated lightly as they can do serious damage if not checked regularly and used carefully at all times.
This basically narrows down to two elements which are the quality of the blade and the actual power of the machine.
Risks of Using A Masonry Saw
Like any saw, the blade needs to be able to get through the material it is cutting. There are three risks when using any type of power saw which are known as:
- Kick back – this is where the saw can stick and the saw kicks back both upwards and backwards in motion with a sudden jolt if he blade sticks…this in turn can easily make the user drop the saw
- Push back – with this type of action the saw pushes straight back if the blade binds up..this can cause damage to the arms but also to the back and shoulders
- Pull In – this is probably the most dangerous as a turning blade can grip and pull the user towards the blade
I don’t mention these to scare anyone away from buying one of these. I do however believe that it is extremely important to know about the risks of using one of these before you actually buy one. Construction workers simply can not live without having at least one of these in their equipment. You just need to treat it with the ultimate respect.
It should also go without saying that personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn at all times and will include safety goggles, safety gloves, safety boots, a dust mask and a hard hat. Trust me, and I say this from bitter experience, you do not want to get cement dust into your eyes. Now that I have covered off the risks let’s have a closer look and see what is available on the market right now.
Dry Cut Masonry Saws
I mentioned earlier that dry saws are becoming very popular. This is simply because you do not have to worry about finding a method of using water to keep the blade cooled down. As I am sure you can imagine running a dry blade through hard materials like concrete, the friction is enormous, and the heat builds up quickly. Water is a great way of both reducing friction and cooling down the metal blade.
These dry cut saws use diamond blades which are more resistant to heat and have a great cutting edge. That allows you to make cuts without the need for water. Now personally I keep a water spray bottle handy and use that to help keep the surface as friction free as possible.
If you have a powerful enough motor and a diamond blade then these work really well.
I think these are great and if I had to pick one then it would probably be this style of masonry saw. I have used one like this to cut through bricks, sandstone, concrete and cap rock.
They work really well for a variety of jobs. If you opt for an electrical one be aware that in most cases because of the power they draw you will need a higher rated circuit breaker. (Check the manufacturer’s recommendations)
The majority of this type of saw are gas powered however and they remain the most popular choice.