Rent an "industrial" brick saw or buy a tile saw?
I can rent a mega-size industrial brick saw for $80 for one day (pick it up Saturday at 5:00 PM; return it Monday Morning at 8:30 AM). It's big (12" blade), powerful, and can bite a firebrick in half with one pass.
For the same $, I can BUY a TILE saw at Home Depot. Max cutting depth is 1.5", so I need to either cut it in two passes OR cut half and finish with a brick set.
Rental Brick Saw:
Advantages: Power, Speed, cleanliness of cut.
Disadvantages: Unknown condition of used blade, have it for only one day and then it's gone unless I rent it again.
Purchased Tile Saw:
Advantages: Keep it forever, no time pressure, I'll have it for bisecting firebricks AND cutting the complicated trapezoids for the top, new blades are less expensive than for the brick saw, save it for future projects.
Disadvantages: Two-step cutting procedure, less power, limited depth of cut.
Any advice? Thanks.
You paraphrased the decision problem perfectly
(M) Your decision, as I see it, depends upon your personal life style. I chose to buy the cheap tile saw that I still have because I don't want to have any time pressure. The building of the oven is for me a "process" and not a goal. I will drag out the tile saw again in a couple of weeks to trim some bricks on the leading edge and to build a decorative arch around the mouth.
(M) But its important also to be realistic about a cheap saw like I bought. I didn't find an 1 1/2" depth but an 1 3/8". That 1/8th makes a difference in that the final split leaves a tiny lip. I was able to hide all those edges but its conceivable that in some application the split edge may be visible.
(M) The blade that came with the cheapie had so little diamond dust on it that I could not complete the dome without buying a replacement of a different type. The new blade, from "Harbor Freight" I believe cost between $20 and $30. It is notched and can be used dry or wet. Dry sets up a cloud of dust; wet sprays clay all over your goggles.
(M) The bottom line is to try to see the whole picture as objectively as possible and then make a decision based upon how you want to approach this project. It is a decision that really only you can make.
Fio - Iv'e looked into these options as well. After putting in pavers and renting the saw, I am going the "buy" route. Being rushed under the clock is no fun. This is a project to enjoy. Check out this link, if the saw fails after a few days you are still ahead of the game.
Gentelmen of the Blade,
A few quick comments on this thread. I have run a 12" Stihl brick/stone saw a LOT, sometimes cutting armour stone up to 8" thick (must be split with chisels and a sledge after). If the diamond blade is in good condition, it's so quick on porous brick that it's hard to imagine. Downside, it's one ornery beast that will bite back so fast you won't notice the missing toes. If you force it and don't just let it chew the brick/stone, it can kick back and chew you.
Once the blade makes contact, you can't alter your line without binding the blade with a whine that you will remember always. It's nearly impossible to prop something as small as a brick to steady it, so you end up using your boot and risking your toes. Nothing other than steel toed boots on this one and a good dust mask and first rate electronic ear protectors. Otherwise, you'll be saying "Whadyasay?" in Emergency.
Far as the tile saw goes, it's a good investment. But, my father had a few good sayings. Two prominent: 1. NEVER buy cheap tools; you'll get hurt. 2. Always buy bigger than you need today, because you'll want it tomorrow.
The point is that there are larger tile saws out there. You can even fit a diamond blade to a 12" mitre saw and rig your own water system if you want or a dust collector. Advantages: full depth, full width cut, ability to clamp down, accuracy, safety. Personally, I can't work with a wet saw of any sort; like Marcel can't see after 10 seconds. Now THAT'S safe.
So buying a GOOD brick saw will set me back some SERIOUS coin. I am leaning toward the "inexpensive" Harbor Freight brick saw.
"Here! Here!" - Coming from a guy who has much more money tied up in tools than he's willing to admit to his wife. But then I doubt she wants to admit how much she has tied up in her shoes and hand bags! :D
Personally I see DIY projects as a Robin Hood scheme. Save money on the job by doing it yourself, then spend the savings on new tools! But good one's you'll keep and use for life!
Brick dust is tough on everything, including you. Sure, the dust will get into the electric motor of the saw, but just be sure to blow it out with compressed air at the end of the session. What I was suggesting, really, was that Home Cheapo and the like often have very good sales on mitre saws, so it might be worth it to buy one only for brick; cheaper than a real large brick saw. Should be possible to rig up a filtre around the motor cooling slots. Nothing will keep it all out, though. Think drywall dust with teeth.
Stuart, my girlfriend's eyes get VERY wide when I mention Lee Neilson hand planes to her, but she's horrified if I think $200 is too much to pay for yet another purse. "But," honey, "it's Italian leather." See, this is fair.
I built my oven using the Harbor Freight $199 tile saw (actually, I think I picked it up on sale for $189)--just bought a very good Felkner blade for it (I also used it to cut a bunch of concrete pavers and other brick work). In fact, I've gone through two blades so far!
It was money well spent, and I had no problems with it. It was really convienient having a saw handy anytime I needed to use it and to be able to only work whenever I wanted rather than having to get it done all at once.
I don't plan on keeping it forever and will sell it when my whole backyard project is complete...so, I didn't see any reason to buy a "high quality" expensive saw.
Also, Is that tile saw capable of angle cuts?
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