* Prices may differ from that shown
As a keen and competent DIYer I bought the Plasplugs Compact Plus tile cutter a few years ago after deciding to revamp the bathroom in my previous house.
Having previously only hired professional electric tile saws I wasn't expecting amazing performance from a relatively inexpensive tool but it was a very pleasant surprise when the first cut was completed resulting in a good straight clean finish. Obviously there are some differences between this and the more expensive models; being plastic it is light so can move around when cutting big, hard or heavy tiles but a couple of bricks wedged behind the back does go a long way to overcoming this small issue. It is also a comparitively slow cutter as the diamond discs supplied are only 80mm diameter so the outer edge is not turning as fast as on a larger disc. You can however fit a 105mm disc (about £9 from Screwfix) which does help and doesn't cost much more than you can find the Plasplugs spares available for.
As other reviews have mentioned, it is noisy, but any powered tile cutter will be noisy so don't expect to be cutting tiles early on a Saturday morning without getting a few disapproving looks from the neighbours.
The blade/splash guard does need lining up correctly if you're going to get the best from this machine and being held in place by just one screw does mean it will move over time with all the vibration from the surprisingly powerful motor.
If you do go for this handy little unit there are a couple of things to note. Make sure you wear protective glasses/goggles. The blade guard is quite narrow so small fragments of tile will fly off and the last thing you want is a trip to casualty to have a tiny shard of porcelain removed from your eyeball. Secondly keep a watering can nearby as the spray from the blade will mean regular top ups of water are needed to keep the reservoir at a suitable level. Let it get to low and your disc will overheat and the diamond coating will wear off leaving you with a disc that doesn't cut.
Three bathrooms and two kitchens later, this is still going strong with no sign of problems and it has more than paid for itself in time and effort saved.
Reading this back I seem to have listed quite a few negatives considering my overall feeling is that it is a good tool for the amateur tiler. A standard score and snap tile cutter is fine for ceramic tiles but will not even mark a porcelain one so the Plasplugs Compact Plus is an essential purchase for either hard tiles or more intricate cuts.
As a professional tiler I usually buy Plasplugs tile cutters, as they have served me well in the past usually lasting a few years with fairly high usage. I have currently had this tile cutter for two years.
The on/off button is on the handle making it easier to access which is important when you have got dust or water on your safety goggles making it difficult to see. Another thing that I find useful with this make is that you get a carrying handle, however, after lots of usage sometimes the lid will fall off when you are carrying it. It is also fairly light compared to some tile cutters of the same size.
I did find that I had to use a different blade to the one that was supplied with the cutter as I found that it was not precise enough, which is important for a good finish.
Replacement blades are fairly cheap to buy depending on the quality from places like tool station.
Be sure to check the sizes of the blade when ordering replacement to be sure it will fit your tile cutter. The blades are also easy to change you just need to lift up the lid (where you put the water in) take off the nut that holds the blade in place, take out the blade and replace with new, then replace the nut.
I did make the mistake once of overfilling the water chamber, the water splashed everywhere, so bare this in mind when filling it up. This is a problem that happens with lots of electric tile cutters. Due to the fact that it can be noisy and messy cutting tiles with an electric cutter I try whenever possible (i.e. no rain!) to use it outside.
Overall I would highly recommend this tile cutter, I have found it powerful enough for lots of tiles of all different materials such as stone, ceramic and porcelain and it does a good job of cuts to go around tricky corners etc.
I bought this tile cutter because I had thought it would be faster than a manually operated one, but it didn't end up being faster at all. In fact I sometimes lost my temper with it.
First of all, its noisy... very VERY noisy. The sound of it fills the whole house and you will probably want to wear ear defenders when using it.
It has a water reservoir to cool the tile and prevent it from shattering with the heat and friction. In practice, the water that spills all over the tile is incredibly messy and washes away any lines you have drawn on there for guidance.
You'll also want to wear safety goggles as the blade guard doesn't stop water or tile bits from flying towards your face.
The guide fence isn't really that great and you end up relying more on your judgement for doing your cuts.
In my opinion, for straight cuts you should stick with a manual cutter.
If you need to cut a cornered shape out of the tile, this will make your life easier than tile nips, but be aware of the noise and mess you're going to get.
Cleaning the tool is very simple, but be advised: don't clean it in your kitchen sink. The water in the reservoir is full of tile clay and it might clog up your drains.
No sooner had I finished fitting the last cupboard door of our new kitchen, the wife was off out to choose the tiles that would adorn the walls of our newly fitted kitchen. One week later and every store within a 10 mile radius visited, shed found her dream tiles and there was I thinking she only dreamt of me.
*** The Purchase ***
I am used to using a manual tile cutter but working out that I was going to need about 800 four-inch square tiles, an electric tile cutter was definitely on the agenda. I trotted off to our local Homebase store and brought the tiles and then looked at the selection of tile cutters they had to offer. There was a wide choice of just one and this was the Plasplugs Diamond Wet Wheel Tile Cutter and for only £30 it was worth a try.
*** The Instructions ***
With again the promise of an endless pot of tea, my wife was eager for me to strip off now now, throw on my overalls and get tiling. The instructions wont take long to read, printed as a fold-out A5 pamphlet it details the usual safety and user precautions, a list of whats in the box, 6 bullet point headings with accompanying diagrams depicting how to use the cutter and a small paragraph on care and cleaning of the tile cutter. Finally there is a small description on how to replace the 80mm cutting wheel and the obligatory 1 year guarantee section.
*** The Accessories ***
Apart from the main unit itself, you receive a hexagon spanner, which is required to replace the cutting wheel, a height adjustable splash guard that fits over the cutting wheel and prevents water spraying in your face when the cutter is in operation and a cutter guide to aid lining up the correct cutting position of your tile.
*** Look and Use ***
The tile cutter is square in appearance, measuring 15.5 inches by 15 inches and is 5 inches in depth. It has been designed with the home user / DIY enthusiast in mind as opposed to the professional tradesman but that said it can cut tiles to a depth of 12mm and can comfortably cut through ceramic, quarry, terracotta and slate tiles to that depth. On paper it looked more than adequate for my needs.
Overalls donned, pencil behind my ear, a quick swig of tea and I was off. The cutter sports a diamond cutting blade that spins at approximately 4,600 revolutions per minute so dont get your fingers anywhere near it. A diamond tipped cutting wheel spinning at that speed will inevitably leave a dark and jagged cut line on the tile due to friction and the build up of heat. To avoid this Plasplugs and other manufactures invented the wet wheel cutters. Its a simply idea but ingenious, keeping the blade wet at all times will stop the heat build up and reduce friction and this is where this type of cutter gets its name wet wheel.
One half of tile cutter is hollow and is effectively a water reservoir, lifting the cover off to the right of the blade allows you to fill the compartment with tap water. Before use, fill the compartment to a depth of 20mm, just shy of one inch and then replace the cover. Next and most importantly fit the splash guard. This attaches just above the cutting wheel and sits on a slide mount and is held in place by a plastic wing nut, that is big another to be done up using your fingers. The height you set the guard up at depends on the depth of your tile, if when using the cutter you experience water spraying in your face, lower the guard a couple of millimetres and try again.
The last piece to fit is the cutter guide; this spans the complete width of the unit and has a straight edge to butt up to your tiles. Attached to the guide are two plastic clips that hold the guide firmly in place on the cutter, when the clips are undone the guide will slide horizontally across the unit.
Once you have plugged the tile cutter into the mains outlet socket, you turn it on by pressing the square green button located below the cutting wheel and to the left. Be careful as turning the machine on will instantly set the cutting wheel in motion, so only do this when you have lined up your tile and are ready to begin cutting. Turning the machine off / stopping the cutting wheel is by pressing the square red button located next to the green button. Turning off the cutter will not instantly stop the wheel from turning, so mind your fingers and wait for the wheel to stop revolving before removing your tile.
Once you have marked the cut position on a tile, simply place the tile on the cutter aligning the marked position on the tile with the cutting wheel. Moving from left to right slide the cutting guide up to the tile, make sure the guide is just touching the edge of the tile and snap the clips at either end in place. The unit has ruler markings either side of the guide, which will help you cut in a straight line.
With the guide firmly locked down and the splash guard in the correct position turn the unit on and with your hands placed on the tile either side of the cutting wheel gentle push the tile forward on to the cutting wheel until you have completely cut the tile in two.
If when cutting you notice a dull line appearing on the tile where you have just cut, the water reservoir will need topping up. I found the machine easy to set-up and use and it made light work of the cutting. It is important that the splash guard is in the right place otherwise you will experience water being sprayed in your face as well as small fragments of tile, which could result in a trip to the hospital if any were to hit your eye.
The top of the unit can pivot to make 45 degree cuts possible and once you have gained confidence you can make curved cuts without the use of the straight edged guide.
When in use there will be a certain amount of tile dust expelled but I did not find the need to set the cutter up outside. After use a damp cloth is required to wipe down the top surface but you will find a build up of sludge from the tiny tile fragments in the reservoir that will need thoroughly cleaning out.
*** Opinion ***
All in all the cutter worked very well and I had finished the tiling in a couple of days with all my fingers still in place. Care does need to be taken, if you are cutting a small slither off of a tile, as your fingers will come very close to the cutting wheel.
No regular servicing of the cutter is required and replacement cutting wheels can be purchased on-line or in most DIY shops for around £8.
Always remember to take regular tea breaks when using the cutter as if nothing else it will help prolong the life of the motor ;-)
I would definitely recommend this to others.
Thanks for reading.
Designed to stay on your head!