How To Cut Glass Tile Without a Wet Saw

Glass tile is a stylish and elegant option for tiling a bathroom or a kitchen – it’s also great for many small-scale DIY projects.

In addition to its beautiful good looks, glass tile is notable for its stain, mildew, and bacteria resistance as well as its overall durability.

While a wet saw, also known as a tile saw, is the tool of choice for professionals to cut glass tile, it’s typically not the best option for most homeowners and DIYers.

It might seem slow and unwieldy at first, but learning how to cut glass tile without a wet saw is not only far more affordable but also produces surprisingly clean cuts with minimal breakage. 

Once you’re finished with this guide, you’ll feel completely comfortable cutting glass tile without a wet saw.

What You’ll Need

Safety First!

Cut glass tile is sharp! We don’t want you to get hurt during this project.

So, make sure to don the appropriate safety gear before diving in. When it comes to cutting glass tile, the most important safety equipment are sturdy gloves and eye protection.

You should also take the time to prepare your work area. Because cutting glass tile with a manual tile cutter can produce shards and dust, it’s important to first lay down a soft cloth to work on top off.

The cloth will collect the excess pieces of glass tile, making cleanup at the end of the project that much easier. It also prevents the work surface from scratching the tile.

Step I: Prepare Tiles and Cutter

Prepare for the job by measuring and marking all of the tiles first.

You can actually set most manual tile cutters to cut a certain size if all of the tiles will be cut to the same measurements.

Lift the handle of the cutter to release the pressure from the cutting blade. This will enable you to slide the tile into the device.

Slide the tile into the device with the backside facing up. In other words, the scoring blade will first come into contact with the back of the tile.

Make sure that the tile is pressed firmly against the fence of the cutter to ensure that it doesn’t move around during the cut.

Step II: Score the Tile

Now, use the scoring wheel to run the scoring blade across the back of the tile.

You’ll typically want to run the scoring wheel across the tile at least two or three times to create a good breaking point.

Remember that you don’t want to cut through the tile with the scoring wheel. It’s simply to create a weakened area for the next step of the cut.

Running the scoring wheel over the tile more than two or three times can actually weaken the tile too much, causing cracks and chipping.

Step III: Apply Pressure to Cut

Most manual tile cutters include the scoring wheel and a separate pressure pad controlled by the main handle.

Once you score the tile, press down on the handle to drop the pressure pad down onto the tile.

The pressure pad will drop approximately into the center of the tile (so don’t worry that it doesn’t land right on the scored area).

Firmly press down on the handle (without applying too much force). The pressure from the pressure pad will snap the tile in two.

It might seem a bit odd at first, but a manual tile cutter actually snaps a piece of tile cleanly in two instead of cutting it.

For Curved Cuts Use a Tile Nipper

You can only use a manual tile cutter to make straight cuts.

If you need to make circular or angled cuts on your glass tile, then a tile nipper is the best manual tool to use.

A tile nipper is a simple, handheld tool. You simply use them to break off small pieces of the tile in a controlled fashion until you achieve the desired shape.

Remember to always start at the corners, never in the middle of the tile. Continue to gradually cut away the excess material. Don’t rush and take your time to prevent cracks and damages.

Like most other hand tools, a tile nipper has a bit of a learning curve before you’ll be using it effectively – so don’t worry if the first couple of tiles don’t turn out like you want.

Final Thoughts

A wet saw is certainly the fastest and most efficient method of cutting glass tile.

But it’s also the most expensive. And the vast majority of homeowners and casual DIYers just don’t need to invest in a designated tile saw for their project.

Fortunately, it’s simple to learn how to cut glass tile without a wet saw. A manual tile cutter and tile nippers are the best tools to use.

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

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