Q: What are tile nippers?
A: They are a tile tool that’s primarily used to make circular cuts in ceramic tile that are difficult for your tile saw to accomplish.
Circular saws and Snap Cutters are great at making straight and angled cuts. Although you can make circular cuts with a tile saw too, there is a technique used in making them. Typically to make an circular cut with a tile saw you would
mark off the cut your going to make with a wax pencil, make a bunch of straight cuts into the tile that meet your mark, and then nip the “fingers” you created with your saw. You’d end up with a tile that you could rub down with a Rub Brick to smooth out the edges. When you perform this technique with your tile saw you end up lots of cutting, lots of blade wear, and results that are about the same that could have been obtained with a tile nipper.
Depending on the circular cut you’ll be making, tile nippers become a necessary tool that creates less mess than using a tile saw to make the same cut. In most cases, you’ll be able to make a couple of angled cuts with your wet tile saw to get close to your circular mark, then nip off the rest with the ever handy tile nippers.
Nipper Tip #1: Make your mark and keep score.
Use a wax pencil to trace your mark and then score that mark with a glass cutter. Scoring your tile will help the tile snap off on your mark rather than past it.
Nipper Tip #2: Take small “nips” when using your nipper and take your time.
As long as your spouse sees you hard at work… all is well. If you go too fast, you’ll risk breaking the tile beyond the mark and you’ll have to settle for lousy work, or start all over again. And what we’re looking for here is absolute perfection! DaVinci spent years creating his masterpiece and you can too, even though you may have to struggle with your spouse to get things completed by the weekend.
Nipper Tip #3: Once you’ve nipped and nipped and nipped. It’s time to rub, rub, rub!
Use a rub brick, which is is a special stone used by tile installers, to smooth out the edges of the tile. You’ll want to pay extra attention to rubbing the cut that may be exposed to objects such as shower drains. Nipped tile edges can be extremely sharp unless they’re rubbed down.
Nipper Tip #4: Don’t use Tile Nippers to cut off straight pieces, use a wet circular saw, wet tile saw, or snap cutter instead!
Every tool has its niche and using a Tile Nipper to make straight or angled cuts is NOT one of them.
Note: With modern porcelain tiles becoming harder and harder, we recommend the use of nippers with replaceable teeth as older style nippers tend to break frequently on porcelain.