Many home owners would love to have a new patio built for their homes complete with barbecue pit, walkways, flower gardens and more. Most settle for 2 foot basic square cement patio stones provided by the builder simply because of the cost. Contracting with a landscape company can cost thousands of dollars and most consumers just cannot afford it or they do not want to spend the money. There is another alternative and that is to do it yourself. The only real difficult parts of the job are making sure your patio is level and cutting the stones.
This particular post is going to focus on using a patio stone tub saw. For more information about actually designing and building your patio, there are many web sites that will discuss the design and preparation of a backyard patio along with the construction and building of your patio. As long as you are not afraid of a little hard work, any home owner can build their own patio and save thousands of dollars in the process. As a rule of thumb, add to the cost of materials, the materials multiplied by 1.5 or 2 times to get an estimate of the cost of hiring a contractor to do the entire job. Back to using a patio stone tub saw.
Patio stone tub saws are actually quite easy to use as long as you practice safe working conditions and follow the instructions provided by your local rental company. We will discuss whether you should rent or purchase one of these machines a little later in this post.
The first thing you should know about patio stone tub saws is that they will cut through patio stones as much as 2.5 inches thick as if they were made of butter. Just push them through at a steady speed, listen to the sound of the motor and if it begins to slow down, then let up the pressure. You will quickly determine what the best speed of cutting is with these saws.
Set up is straight forward. Pick a location that is close to your work area, with access to power and a water hose. Another important consideration is that these machines will generate a lot of wet particulate which when it drys will coat everything with a fine white dust. I installed a wood barrier around mine to limit the amount of spray and particulate from the stone cutter. This also makes cleanup much easier. Once you have hooked up the power and the water hose to the machine, complete several test cuts just to get a feel for the process of cutting patio stones. Always make sure the water is running to keep the blade wet and cool.
As with all home renovation projects and this includes patio stone tub saws, safety is paramount. These machines are pretty easy to use and safe as well, but there are a few things you should consider. First of all always connect the power chord with a heavy duty extension chord. If you do not have one, most equipment rental companies can provide one of these. Second the electrical outlet you use should have a ground fault breaker. You are wet, you will be standing in water sometimes and you want to make sure that there is little chance of receiving a shock.
Third, as we mentioned never operate the saw without water. The patio stone tub saw comes with a small water pump which pumps water out of the tub ( that’s why it is called a tub saw) through tubes to spray the water onto the saw blade. If it runs dry, you will generate lots of dust and the blade could over heat.
Eye protection is an absolute must. Wear goggles even if you wear glasses. The goggles will protect your glasses and more importantly will prevent particles from the tub saw getting into your eyes. Also wear sound protection for your ears. These tub saws are loud and the sound is quite ear piercing. If you do not wear ear protection at the very least you will not be able to hear properly for several days and the worst is that you could damage your ears permanently.
The last safety concern is always wear leather gloves. Water and the particulate from the stones you are cutting combine to form a paste which will rub your fingers raw. It can get quite painful if you are doing a lot of stone cutting. The gloves will get wet and it will be messy, but at least your hands will not be sore. Some people will also wear a rubber apron around them to protect their clothes and avoid getting soaked from the water spray. This is a great idea, makes the job a lot more comfortable, especially if it is cool. No one wants to be wet in cold weather.
Rent or Purchase a Patio Stone Tub Saw
Now back to renting or purchasing a patio stone tub saw. I have rented one of these machines several times for a 24 hour period and found this to be the most economical for my purposes. I planned my rental around spending a day of stone cutting, so I had all of my stones placed and marked for cutting prior to picking up the saw, which made the process quite efficient. The cost in Canadian dollars was around $45 for the day, which is quite reasonable.
The rental company also rented a 1.5 horsepower patio stone tub saw to me. This is quite important since a 1.5 horse power motor will draw just less than 15 amps so you won’t be tripping your circuit breaker very often. Three horse power tub saws can cut faster, however unless you have a 20 amp or 30 amp outlet, you will be tripping your circuit breaker all of the time. This is an important consideration if you plan to purchase a patio stone sub saw.
One last point, get to know the folks at the equipment rental company you use. They have lots of experience and will take the time to show you how to use these tub saws, some of the tricks and safety issues and will often throw in the heavy gauge extension chord you will probably need as well for free.