When cutting building materials such as concrete and masonry, step cutting offers a safe and controlled way of achieving the desired outcome.
What is Step Cutting?
In terms of construction products and building materials, step cutting with a diamond blade is simply the process of cutting with multiple ‘steps’ rather than the one-step action seen in full depth or fixed cutting.
In full depth cutting, the blade is lined up, locked in a fixed position, and pushed through the material in one smooth movement. This can be effective in wet cutting applications where the material is soft.
When the material is hard however, step-cutting is much the more efficient process. The blade is lined up and a primary shallow cut is made in the material; acting as a guide for further cutting.
The blade is then progressively lowered into the material, cutting back and forth along the guide line multiple times until the desired depth is reached. The harder the material, the more rapid the forward and backward strokes should be.
Step cutting also reduces the contact area between the blade edge and the cutting material. This keeps the blade cool, running free and at peak efficiency.
Method for Step Cutting
Whether you’re cutting concrete blocks or slabs of granite, floors or tiles, the step cutting method is essentially the same. Here is our guide for safe wet step-cutting using a masonry saw.
Multiple step cutting consists of moving the conveyor cart with the material to be cut backwards and forwards under the rotating blade.
1. Place the material to be cut on the conveyor cart firmly against the cutting guide and the backstop, keeping your hands well away from the blade. Ensure the water pump is plugged in and turned on. The handle on the petcock should be turned in line with the water flow.
2. Start the motor and be certain that both sides of the blade are getting an adequate flow of water.
3. Move the conveyor cart forward near the blade and pull down the cutting head until blade is lowered to the point where it is lightly contacting the surface of the material.
4. Pass the material beneath with rapid full length strokes, making a shallow cut approximately 3mm deep.
5. Complete each rapid stroke backward and forward by passing the material beyond the centre of the blade. The harder the material, the more rapid the forward and backward strokes should be.
6. At all times make sure that the water level covers the screen on the bottom of the pump. Do not let sludge and dirt get deep enough in the pan to block the pump inlet.
7. Be sure to keep a close eye on the performance of the blade. If the blade appears to be struggling, be prepared to adjust the speed and/or cutting depth.
8. Switch everything off and isolate from the power.
9. Clean the water-tray and the pump after use.
Step Cutting Machines
Norton Clipper have a great range of machines that make step-cutting easy. Here are just a couple:
The Norton Clipper CM501 Masonry Saw is an easy to use, high capacity machine.
The large table combined with a pedal operated pendular cutting head make this machine ideal for step cutting large building blocks such as cellular concrete and other light building materials (e.g. aerated fired clay or aerated concrete).
The anti-slipping surface on the conveyor also helps keep the material stable and movement-free, to assist in making the most precise cut possible.
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