Using professional masonry saws is a good way to tackle a number of projects that require cutting through tiles, granite, marble, concrete and other types of hard materials. There are, however, a lot of different kinds of masonry saws on the market today. Follow this guide to get a better sense of which kinds might be appropriate for your needs.
Two Main Types
Size matters when cutting through something like a giant piece of stone. The largest versions are production models that are designed for cutting down massive quarry or field stones.
There are also portable saws that come into three form factors. The first utilizes folding legs to support a table surface where cutting occurs. Such models are ideal for handling precision work, such as creating custom countertops at a project site.
The second style is a handheld saw that usually has a pistol-grip design. These are less common and far from industry standard, but they can be handy, especially in closed spaces.
Finally, there are also disc cutter versions. These are relatively cheap options meant to perform simple cuts, but they can be helpful during the rough-cutting stage.
Notably, these systems are considered distinct from concrete saws. In terms of working with concrete, a masonry saw is meant for working with production materials, such as concrete countertops and not doing things like cutting into concrete slabs. Do not confuse the two. Masonry saws are meant for finish work.
Dry vs. Wet Cutting
Traditionally, wet cutting processes have been used to do masonry work. This provides cooling to the blade, and it also can keep the stone surface from getting hot. If you're in a situation where keeping dust under control is critical, it's wise to go with a wet-cut system.
A major advantage of using a dry-cutting method is that you don't have to supply water to the saw. This can be helpful in locations without ready water access or in regions where water usage is capped. Most models use some form of a diamond-edged blade, and that can make consumables more expensive.
Gas vs. Electric
The issue of using gas versus electric as a power source boils down to convenience, safety, and cost. Electric is cheaper in most regions, but it may be limited in remote areas. If you use a gas-powered system, make sure there is sufficient ventilation in your workspace to clear out any exhaust fumes.