Top Manual Tile Cutters For The Perfect Cut
Tiles. Waterproof essentials, the perfect wall covering. Whether you’re re-doing the bathroom or crafting a beautiful mosaic, they need cutting. The first glazed bricks are found as far back as the 13th century BC, they were fired in a kiln and were much stronger than the sun dried bricks used up until that point. Some pretty advanced stuff.
We still use very similar techniques today, but with dozens more styles, and from many more materials. Glass, ceramic, porcelain, even some types of wood can be used to make tiles.
Manual tile cutters work by scoring the tile in question, and then applying pressure to the line. It is a slightly daunting procedure. If you’re reading this you’ve probably encountered the poor breaks and wasted tiles that occur when learning the skill.
A good tile cutter will have a sharp wheel – that you can easily replace. Plenty of breaking force when you push down the handle. And potentially the option to change this handle for a different style.
The manual tile cutters we’ve selected and reviewed range in size, strength and price. The Sigma 3D2, for example, is a truly professional tool, probably a bit of overkill if you’re just doing a few tiles in the kitchen. Whereas the VonHaus tile cutter is perfect for the DIY-inclined.
Sigma Tile Cutter 3D2
Sigma has been making tile cutters since 1969. This is the Series 3 cutter, and it is an iteration of one of the original models. If it ain’t broke and all that. Manual tile cutters are very simple pieces of engineering, of course, simplicity can be hard to master, and the 3D2 is one of those that have mastered the moves.
This cutter has an incredibly wide base, which is perfect for those long cuts, or making some angled cuts on the side of the tile.
The pull bar cutter has a single rail, there are adjustable heights on the sides which allow you to fit the different thickness of tiles. For reference when buying new handles, the rail is 10mm wide. And the maximum thickness that the 3D2 can cut is 20mm.
- Cuts through 20mm of tiles
- The adjustable bar runs through 45 degrees in two directions
- 10mm wide pull rail
- Wide range of Sigma handles and wheels to explore
It is a joy to use a pull bar tile cutter. You can adjust the measuring bar out to 45 degrees in both directions. The bar is scaled with centimetres or inches – if you get the wrong one do make sure to contact your supplier or Sigma themselves. The manual, physical feel of the guide is incredibly well made. I like the way you can also store the measuring bar parallel to the cut rail when you’re not using it too.
All these connections are metal locking into metal. Nice action on the screw handles and a satisfying button to press whilst dialling in the cut angle too.
Adjusting the height is very simple. You place your tile in, and use two screws (with large but discreet handles) on either end of the pull rail to modify the height to your exact requirements – when the wheel feels right on the tile – and then it is time to cut.
The cut mechanism itself is a carbide wheel. The breaker handle feels good to hold, everything is so tight on the 3D2. All the force required to break the tile is transferred to the base plates down in the base of the cutter.
Pull the handle towards you, and give it a hit or a push downwards. Crack. Perfect. Cuts.
If you want to see just how good the Sigma brand is, check out this very high-quality video made by a crack documentary team from the UK.
Essentially, if you skipped the video. Sigma cutters are unbelievably sharp, precise and fast. ‘Gary’ with his Sigma was cutting tiles down to a very slim width, with the tile instantly breaking, while ‘Other Gary’ and his Rubi required a little extra help after the cut even on a wide thickness.
Of course, this is not a wholly reliable study, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that the lads were having a few drinks – see the odd choice in headwear on ‘Other Gary’.
Stabilising handles must be bought separately for the 3D2, a bit of a cop-out when this cutter already runs well into the hundreds. That said, there are some other customisable features – you can change the pull handle to a Max handle, or a Klick Klock handle if you so wish.
The overall weight of the Sigma is 13.5kg, and the maximum cut on a straight tile is 95cm. Diagonal cuts can run to 67cm. The cutter has a breaking force of 1050kg, just over a ton.
Sigma is the best brand out there making tile cutters. If you’re working with water and a saw, you might be haunted in your dreams by Gary in the video above, making his fast and narrow cuts all day. Although the price is quite steep, the amount of time you would save and the quality of the job you do would probably mean that cost is recouped in next to no time.
Nothing compares.CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE!
Rubi Manual Cutter
Ah Rubi, we’ve just seen how the Rubi stacks up next to the Sigma. It wasn’t a pretty sight. How can we talk about the Rubi after that? To put it one way, they’re in different price brackets. To put it another, I still don’t trust Other Gary in the red headwear.
Rubi tools are much cheaper than the top of the range. Still over the hundred-pound mark, but not stratospheric (unless you’re buying in Topps Tiles).
On a more pragmatic and technical note, the amount of force is around 20% lower. With the force sitting at 800kg – it is like asking a boxer to move up the weight category.
- Cuts through tiles that are 15mm thick
- Straight cut length of 620mm
- Comes with a hard plastic carry case
- Magnetic handle keeps the cut steady
Now, of course, Rubi still wants you to cut a range of tiles with their cutter, it would be a high niche purchase to only use the Rubi for jobs with tiles under a certain thickness.
As it goes, Rubi cuts 15mm. The scoring wheel supplied has a kerf of 8mm, the straight cut length is 620mm and the whole thing weighs 8kg – and comes with a plastic carry case.
If I were to go full-time with the Rubi, there are a couple of things I’d change. Thankfully it is easy to change the wheel on the Rubi and lots of spare parts are available – so I’d get a range of wheels – I don’t think the standard is too sharp. Remember, tungsten is three times stronger than steel.
What Rubi does have going for it is a lot of robust design features. The steel guides are nicely chromed and have been treated to prevent corrosion.
On the handle is a magnetic system to lock the breaker in place. This improves the cut by making scoring tiles easier – and letting you see more clearly where you’re at.
To apply the breaker pressure, that 800kg of force, you move the lever up, not down, and snap through for a pretty precise and pretty clean cut.
There’s a removable and mobile guide separator for making angled cuts easy. This also has a side stop which is scaled in millimetres for making lots of repetitive cuts and rips. For angled cuts, there’s a 45-degree square.
In terms of shock absorption, the Rubi doesn’t have the quality of base plate found in Sigma tools. But the whole process is still as smooth as cutting dozens of tiles can ever be.
Cutting lengths are as follows- 620mm on a straight cut and 440mm on a diagonal cut. Not huge, but large enough for many jobs.
Rubi may have been savaged earlier, but if you know what you’re getting into the Rubi has a lot to offer. I like the magnet on the handle which let me cut one-handed. I also found the carry case a nice touch, tile cutters can often be annoyingly obtuse bits of kit, but this makes it smooth.CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE!
VonHaus Manual Tile Cutter
VonHaus have an incredibly affordable and diverse range of products. They run the full gamut. I’m talking about air fryers, impact drivers, saws and yes, tile cutters. I don’t know who they are, but they never seem to stop. The tile cutter in question is rather a nice surprise. For a fraction of the cost of the Sigma, even the Rubi, you can get yourself a 600mm cutter.
What’s the cut like? Not great. Instead of one scoring line, I find it better to run a couple down the tile before attempting to break it – when you do this, I found, there is little room for error. At least you’re already scoring with a tungsten carbide wheel – the strongest slash most versatile blade wheel out there.
- Highly compact and still cuts 600mm
- Doesn’t include a rail for diagonal cuts
- Requires a few scores to make clean breaks
You can cut through ceramic tiles, glazed tiles and porcelain tiles to a thickness of 12mm. These cuts can be 600mm long. Now the catch – unless you can get creative and measure angles well yourself, you can’t make diagonal cuts. There’s just no measuring rail.
Despite cutting 600mm the cutter only weighs 4.6kg. Which is not actually ideal for a manual tile cutter. A little more weight in the base plates makes cut a sturdy cutting base and a cleaner cut, all things considered. On the bottom of the cutter are some anti-slide pads, but this doesn’t give you the weighty focal point to exert to pressure from, as a loaded base plate would do.
Though the best bit about this tile cutter, and any manual tile cutter, is the lack of mess. No need for a plug, and far less hoovering when you’re done – compared to an electric tile cutter at least.
The VonHaus is a very cheap and reasonable manual tile cutter. Who might like to own one of these? Well, it has a compact footprint, so it could be a nice back-up to have in the van, should the number one cutter break down. Or, if you’re renovating a house and are planning for a few tiles cut here and there, the cost and cut quality are about right.
Remember – make many scores if you don’t want to waste tiles on this thing.CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE!
Vitrex Manual Tile Cutter
Vitrex’ pull-based manual tile cutter is a flatbed system, with the familiar score and snap functionality. Built from rigid steel, the construction is robust and surprisingly lightweight.
The Vitrex tile cutter is available in a range of sizes, from 600mm up to 900mm, you certainly won’t be stuck on those large corporate lobby jobs. The maximum diagonal cut on the 900mm is 610mm, for reference on the smaller models, assume about two-thirds. Thus 400mm on the 600mm and 630mm models. Woo, what a lot of numbers. How about the cut itself?
- Available in a range of sizes, 600mm up to 900mm
- Cuts a maximum of 13mm in thickness
- Ships to you with a tungsten carbide wheel
In terms of thickness, the Vitrex is not up there with the Sigma, you can get through a maximum of 13mm – and that goes for all sizes of the Vitrex. The wheel that is supplied is a tungsten carbide baby, which will run for thousands of cuts and score plenty of goals.
You can happily cut through wall tiles, floor tiles and ceramics with the Vitrex. Replacement parts and wheels are available through Vitrex only, which is a bit of a shame. The pull handle has a rubber coating on it and will take some of the pop out of the pressure you apply to said tiles.
Making cuts with the Vitrex is simple and easy. It is a heavy and bulky item, which doesn’t come with a case, but if you can stomach the size of the thing then you’ll find it very useful.
The largest size is what we’d opt for as a pro, that capacity is so versatile. But those looking for a simple way to re-decorate their house might like a smaller version.CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE!
Katsu Heavy Duty Tile Cutter
Katsu makes some great tile cutters, their electric cutter is featured here, but the manual version is also worth a look. Built to last and capable of making cuts down to 1cm in width. The Katsu is heavy-duty and nimble as a bumblebee.
Despite its quality, you won’t be paying through the nose. It comes in well under the cost of the Sigma model but can give it a run for its money. Why is Katsu so good at making tools, is it anything to do with katsu curry?
Along the slide rail, there are twenty-two bearings which make the handle and wheel glide across the tiles. These bearings are backed up by eight adjustable bolts which will calibrate the position of the wheel and add stability to the sliding mechanism.
The largest straight cut you can make is 800mm. In terms of the wheel Katsu rate it for 5000 meters of cutting, some simple maths then shows us that you could cut 6250 tiles before you jigger the thing. That’s a fair few bathrooms and floors.
The weight of the cutter might mean it is a bit difficult to shift around, 12kg is to me a decent weight for a manual cutter. The bulk adds degrees of breaking pressure to the cut. This means you can run down to just one centimetre wide pieces.
Unlike other tile cutters, the Katsu includes a novelty more commonly found on mitre saws, a laser measuring device. In addition to this, there are three other measuring points. You can also cut in diagonal strokes using the adjustable guard rail.
I like Katsu, they have a fortune cookie feel about them. The tool does require set up and calibration before use, but once you’ve got it sorted you have a piece of pure physics. Breaking tiles manually is a rather beautiful process, much like the beauty of this simple machine. Get one today and start making your dream bathroom is what I’d say.