Please note: Since this review was
published, Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and
is no longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot
be obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com
appears to still be available online and offers some product information
and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that
OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support
or spare parts for their products.
So you've made more than a hundred woodworking projects,
spent endless hours in the workshop, and now its time to renovate the
bathroom, kitchen or laundry area and your significant other wants you to
Tiling may not be your specialty, but if you need to cut
tiles to fit an edge or to work around an immovable object, a powered tile
cutter will make life a little easier!
Today we are taking a look at the GMC Tile Cutter, which
is another tool from the GMC range fitted out with their "Redeye" laser
feature. Let's take a closer look...
Out of the Box
The GMC LSTSAW Laser Tile Cutting saw ships mostly assembled. All you
really need to do is attach the laser mount arm to the saw, add the
fence, and install the supplied batteries into the laser's battery
compartment. Certainly one of the more simpler and quicker out-of-the-box
setups we have encountered lately I must say!
There is the normal high-quality, color-printed manual
supplied with the tile saw, as with most GMC products now, as well as
standard warranty card and registration information. Everything was in
tip-top condition once assembled - no dints or dings to be seen.
Below are the listed specifications as per the manual for this tool:
Speed: 2950 RPM
Blade Size: 180mm Diamond Blade
Bore Size: 15.88mm (5/8")
Bevel Capacity: 0 to 45 degrees
Maximum Cutting Depth at 90 deg: 35mm
Maximum Cutting Depth at 45 deg: 21mm
Table Size: 420mm x 360mm
Laser Class: 2
Laser Output: <1mW
Batteries: 2 x AAA
Features & Function
The first feature you may notice once you have this tool out of the
box and are ready to move it to its place of use is the integrated tool
handle. Located on the left side of the tool (when standing in front of
it) the flip up handle allows you to carry the tool around very easily and
conveniently. The weight of the tool seems pretty well centered under the
handle, so there is little strain when lugging the tool around.
The motor offers 650W output. For tile cutting this is
plenty. Most tiles have a similar thickness and few ceramic tiles measure
more than a quarter or third of an inch thick (except from some specialty tiles) so 650W
of power is more than enough to complete regular tile cutting tasks with
ease. I haven't been able to bog the saw down yet during a regular tile
cut. The motor is also of the induction type. It is very quiet when
switched on and no ear protection will be needed. Once you start cutting a
tile however, the noise level jumps up a little. This is not the saw
itself becoming noisier, but simply the noise the tile makes as it is
being sliced by the diamond blade.
The saw uses a standard, non-segmented 180mm diamond
edged cutting blade. The bore size is listed at 15.88mm, which is 5/8".
Finding replacement blades shouldn't be terribly difficult if you search a
big box hardware store, or from tile retailers that also sell cutting gear
(many do). A quality tile cutting blade will last for quite a long time if
used only to cut common tile materials. A plastic blade guard protects the
user from accidentally striking a spinning blade causing injury.
Personally, I found the blade guard was a little flimsy, but when set
properly, it performs the task it is designed to do and doesn't really
move when the saw is turned on and cutting is in progress, so who I am to
criticize! Its light weight probably contributes to the saw's easy
portability, so my back certainly is thankful for that.
The next main feature is the table itself. It can tilt
to the right to 45 degrees if you have a need to make a beveled tile cut.
As most tile cuts will likely be made at the square 90 degree setting, I
didn't really find much use for the tilting table function but at least
the function is there if and when you do need it. A small knob on the front
of the unit releases the table allowing you to tilt it to 45 degrees. The
small etched scale and arrow marking system approximates the bevel angle.
It's crude but more than sufficient for tiling cuts, where accuracy to
less than a single degree is rarely required, if at all.
The scale on the table itself provides a method by which
a distance from the blade can be calculated to set the fence. It measures
a little over 8 inches left of the blade, and 4 inches right of the blade,
with a central "0" setting in line with the blade's projected kerf cut
line. The scale is found front and back on the table as the fence is a
dual clamp system and not self aligning, so to get a square cut, you need
to set the fence at the same measurement front and back.
The fence itself is of aluminum box construction. It is
fairly rigid when locked down. You can flex it a little, but only with
excessive pressure you wouldn't normally be applying pushing a tile
against it, so it is really a moot point. Under normal use, there is no
visible flex and tile cuts remain parallel front to back. As mentioned
above, the fence uses a basic front/back clamping method, using a cam-type
clamp up front with a pressure adjustable turning lever, pretty similar to
the clamps you find on Leigh dovetail jigs, although not as substantial,
or as bulky either. In use the fence works well. A little fiddly to align
and clamp down at times, but no different to any other tile cutting saw of
similar design and price tag. A miter gauge is provided which sits over the
tube fence and rides along the top of it. The fit is snug, but easy moving
with little side to side play to ensure good accuracy. The guide can be
rotated 45 degrees either way to make mitered tile cuts, and the right
angle in the gauge itself provides a relatively secure "caddy" to hold the
tile against while making a cut. The gauge is marked, curiously, in 2.5
degree increments, with major marks at 15, 30 and 45 degree settings each
way. The yellow knob atop the gauge secures and releases the gauge to its
runner to allow you to make changes to the gauge's angle.
When it comes to alignment and fence issues, GMC's
addition of their "Redeye" laser to the tile saw offers back some brownie
points. Since most tile cuts are not measured by setting the fence itself,
but rather scribed as a line on the tile itself to fit a particular space
taken right from the jobsite, the ability to bring the fence and tile
together, then move them to line up your pencil line on the tile with the
laser line generated from the laser arm "floating" above makes quick and
simple fence setting for distance possible. The laser uses two AAA size
batteries, and two are included in the kit to get you started, and even
these are nicely branded with GMC logos! The laser can be adjusted in
several planes to line up with the blade's projected cutting line forward
of the blade tip allowing fairly precise fence settings.
Naturally, precautions must always be followed when using any laser
products. Although the output is low, personal injury is still very
possible. Never look directly into the laser beam itself, and read all
other precautions in the provided manual to ensure safe use. The laser arm
attaches to the side of the unit with the provided hardware, but you do of
course have the option to remove the laser arm from the saw if you wish. I
find it very handy, so it's not going anywhere!
The main power switch is a simple on/off switch with a
yellow safety key. The safety key can be removed to essentially disable
the switch and prevent the saw from being used. These switches are great
when you have small children around with inquisitive minds! However, they
are also a good safety feature to disable the switch when servicing the
machine, changing blades, or cleaning it down etc.
Looking down underneath the table you will find the
water compartment. This area under the saw feeds the blade with a constant
supply of cooling water, which also helps reduce the amount of fine
airborne dust thrown up by the tile as it is cut. There is a plug feature
which also acts as the maximum water fill level line. If you overfill the
compartment, the excess water will simply drain out from the bottom of the
saw body. If you have ever cut tile before, you will know very well how
much dust can be created in the process. Adding a little water to the
process greatly reduces this problem. Sure, you often do end up with a
nice sludgy mix of dust and water building up in the lower compartment and
on the table itself after many cuts, but it is easily removed with a rag.
It sure beats inhaling copious amounts of fine tile dust and suffering
serious lung damage as a result. Bring on the slime, I say! I found that
almost no visible dust was created above the table top when cutting a
tile. The water really helps reduce airborne dust to almost zero.
Use and Conclusion
The GMC LSTSAW Tile Cutting Saw is quite simple to use providing you
have some basic knowledge of the tool and understand the way it cuts.
Those who own a table saw will be very familiar with these principles, as
they are essentially the same with this tile saw. For new users, the
included full-color manual will provide all the tips and safety
information you need to use the tool correctly and safely.
With proper set up, making dead straight cuts to a
marked line should be no problem at all with this saw. With the many tiles
I cut, there was really no sign of chipout on either face of the tile, and
cuts were very clean and "sharp". Given its price tag
of AUD $169 I feel you do get enough out of this saw to field the opinion
that it does provide good value for money. It's not a commercial machine,
but it's not priced at a commercial level either, and for what some hire
companies charge you to rent out a tile saw for a couple days, you could
buy your very own GMC LSTSAW tile saw to keep and use for as long as you
want. Sure, the saw is not absolutely perfect, and I have mentioned some
minor issues in the text above, but in the end, I found it achieved the
task it is designed to do; to cut tiles quickly and easily with good
accuracy. A handy little tool to have for your next tiling job.
The GMC website can be found at
www.gmcompany.com and you can contact them to find
out whether these saws are available to you in your local area.
All photos copyright onlinetoolreviews.com. Use without prior
written permission prohibited
The LSTSAW assembled and ready to go.
Blade guard protects precious fingers and hands from damage.
The laser line generator attached to the boom arm.
The front of the fence with its cam clamp securing feature.
On/Off control with yellow
removable safety key.
Table bevel angle guide scale and locking knob.
Water compartment with fill-line plug shown left of shot.
Miter guide slides along the top of the fence.
It is adjustable to 45 degrees
Integrated carry handle makes portability very simple!
Making a straight cut using the rip fence. Note the water on the table
top helping to reduce dust to almost zero.
Making a 45 degree cut using the miter guide.
A nice clean-edge cut top and bottom. The ridges you can
see on the bottom are the natural ridges in the tiles design.