Cutting marble is intimidating for almost everyone, even seasoned DIY veterans.
Not only is the project more difficult than most, but any errors you make have the potential to ruin the expensive material.
But, luckily, with the right tools and just a little know-how, this seemingly difficult task becomes much more manageable.
By the time you’re done reading this guide, you’ll feel much more confident in your marble cutting abilities. You’ll be more than ready to take on the project.
Here’s exactly how to cut marble without making an expensive mistake.
What You’ll Need
No tool is better for cutting marble than a wet saw.
But wet saws are expensive and specialized tools that most DIYers don’t own. So, unless you rent or buy a wet saw, the second-best tool to use is a circular saw.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Circular Saw
- Diamond Blade
- Tape Measure
- Masking Tape
- Grease Pencil
- 2-Inch Thick Rigid Foam
- Plywood and 2 Saw Horses
Because you’ll be using a normal circular saw, not an actual wet saw, most experts, including The Family Handyman, recommend setting up a DIY water source.
Here’s what you’ll need to keep your saw cool:
Also, using this method tends to leave a somewhat rough edge after the cut.
Here’s what you’ll need to smooth down the edge:
- Orbital Sander
Like any DIY project that uses power tools, it’s important to wear the right safety gear when cutting marble.
Most important is good hearing and eye protection as well as a sturdy pair of gloves. A set of work coveralls takes your safety up yet another notch.
You should always set the marble you’re working with on a sturdy surface before making any cuts.
Generally, the setup described below (two sawhorses with plywood and rigid foam) is best, although smaller pieces can be safely cut on the grass.
Finally, remember that you should only attempt to cut small pieces of marble. Northside Tool Rental even recommends limiting your cuts to just two inches and calling in the professionals for any larger cuts (especially initial cutouts).
Step I: Prepare for the Cut
When it’s time to cut your marble slab, ample preparation is the key.
First up is setting up the marble slab. Place a strong sheet of plywood over two sawhorses to create a work table.
I prefer to set a 2-inch thick piece of rigid foam on top of the plywood. This gives the marble a softer surface to sit on top of to prevent damages.
Now, carefully set the marble slab on top of the rigid foam.
You can actually cut smaller pieces of marble without this sawhorse setup. For example, you can cut a small marble bathroom vanity countertop on a level area of grass.
Just as important as preparing the marble is making your measurements.
What I do first is tape off the edge that will be cut with masking tape. This reduces the risk of the cut marble edge getting damaged.
I then measure and make my marks on top of the masking tape.
Finally, set up your circular saw for the cut. Since you’re not using a wet saw, you want to set up the garden hose so that a trickle water runs over the front of the blade. I clamp my hose in place so it doesn’t move during the cut.
* Make sure that you always use a diamond blade specifically rated for cutting marble.
Step II: Make the Cut
Now that everything is properly prepared, start making the cut.
Slowly run the circular saw through the marked area. Take your time and don’t rush. Make sure that the trickle of water from the hose continues to cool off the front of the diamond blade throughout the entire cut.
Step III: Sand and Finish the Edge
There’s a good chance that the edge of the cut you just made will be pretty rough.
So remove the masking tape and smooth out the edge with your orbital sander. Work your way from rougher sandpaper to finer sandpaper.
I typically work my way from 40-grit sandpaper up to 400-grit sandpaper for the smoothest finish possible.
Alternative Method: Wet Saw
A wet saw simply makes it much easier to cut marble.
Not only are these power tools specifically designed to cut marble, tile, and other hard materials, but they also include a water-cooled diamond blade.
The water-cooled blade eliminates the need for a garden hose. Your cuts will be much easier and more efficient.
If you don’t want to buy a wet saw yourself, they’re often available for short-term rental from many home improvement stores.
There’s no denying that learning how to cut marble is intimidating.
But it’s actually very easy with the right tools and knowledge. Even though the best tool to use is a wet saw, the circular saw method described above will get the job done safely and efficiently.
Just remember to limit your cuts to a few inches at most – and to call in the experts for full-seam cuts so you don’t risk cracking or breaking the marble slab.