What Does a Concrete Cutter Do? An Expert's Guide

A concrete cutting saw is a tool that runs on gasoline, pneumatic pressure, hydraulics or an electric motor. It is also known as a road saw, cone saw or slab saw. A concrete saw is used to cut hard materials such as concrete, tile, asphalt, brick, masonry and other solid materials. So when do you want to start cutting concrete slabs with a saw? When choosing which area to start cutting expansion joints, select an area that does not have any steel reinforcement that continues from one slab to another. Diamond chainsaws and cutting machines are the two most popular concrete cutting tools used in the construction industry.

Hand sawing is a traditional method of cutting concrete, but it takes a lot of time and effort. In addition, the depth of cut is usually not satisfactory. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of concrete cutting machines and diamond chainsaws will help you determine which tool is right for your job. Cutting machines and diamond chainsaws are the two most common concrete cutting tools, and their uses overlap quite a lot, but they are not interchangeable. By understanding the differences between these two types of teams, you can make the right choice for your next job.

The ideal choice for most concrete cutting jobs, cutting machines are hand saws that are used to cut concrete, asphalt and metal. They use a composite resin grinding wheel or diamond blade for cutting in various construction applications. Typically available in 12- or 14-inch sizes, cutting machines can be operated with a two-stroke gas engine, hydraulic power unit, air compressor or electric motor. The choice of power supply depends on the application. According to Tom Carroll of CS Unitec, power saws are popular with some operators because they are light, less noisy and easier to use than other types of cutting machines.

However, they are not as powerful and may take longer to complete a job. Hydraulic saws, on the other hand, have the highest power-to-weight ratio. They are convenient because most contractors have a hydraulic power unit on hand, but they are more expensive and less tolerant than a pneumatic saw, for example. Air saws are also convenient, as air compressors are ubiquitous on job sites. The operation is simple and has fewer potential risks, says Carroll.

If the blade gets stuck, the air pressure is simply released, he says, adding that there is no risk of fluid leakage either. Air saws are also lightweight and easy to maintain. The most popular among the various types of cutting machines are gas-driven units. These tools offer the advantages of portability and familiarity, but require more maintenance. In addition to power requirements and maintenance, there is also the question of weight versus performance.

Operators appreciate a lighter saw because they are easier to use, but there is a trade-off. It depends on what the operator really wants, says Axt. If the saw is lighter, it will cut shallow with more passes, so it may take longer. A heavier saw, on the other hand, will cut deeper and faster, but it is heavier, which can make it difficult for some operators to handle. He continues: “For some, time is money” Others prefer to save wear and tear on the operator. There are several things that operators should keep in mind when using a cutting machine.

The end user must read, understand and follow the instructions and warnings in the instruction manual, says Steve Parmentier, Strategic Account Manager at Stihl Inc. It points out that end users must also have all appropriate personal protective equipment as described in the instruction manual. A diamond chainsaw is a tool designed as a woodcutting chainsaw with a motorized head, guide bar and chain, which is driven by a sprocket from the powerhead around the guide bar explains Bill Bray ICS vice president of sales and marketing Blount Inc. As the name suggests the chain of a diamond chainsaw incorporates diamond segments that are laser welded to the chain instead of the typical cutting teeth of a wood saw. Diamond segments as in a traditional circular diamond blade essentially create a grinding action that wears away concrete, brick or other aggregate material This grinding action creates a very safe cutting operation without the recoil that is associated with a wooden chain. Diamond chainsaws offer several advantages over circular blade cutting machines says Bray The chainsaw is designed to dip the tip first into the material and has the ability to cut more than twice as deep as a 14-inch circular blade The smaller ICS gas saw allows a 10-inch deep cut and depending on the saw model there are gas saws that can cut a total depth of 16 inches says Bray. A gas saw with a cutting depth of 12 inches is the most common on job sites There are hydraulic diamond chainsaws that can cut to a depth of 25 inches A 14-inch circular blade on a cut-off saw is designed for a maximum depth of just under five inches. When selecting a diamond chainsaw the most important thing is to consider whether you need to cut openings larger than five inches If the answer is yes then a diamond chainsaw is the right tool says Bray Most start with a gas-powered two-stroke engine offering portability and a lower initial investment ICS recommends a minimum 80cc engine that can use a guide bar that is 12 or 14 inches deep of cut. If you have significant cutting needs you may want to consider a hydraulic or pneumatic diamond chainsaw which has more power and can use guide bars for openings up to 25 inches Contractors who cut concrete should use engineering controls such as water or ventilation to limit worker exposure to silica dust Respirators should be provided if engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure When cutting concrete wet cutting is recommended to help control dust. Water retains dust and reduces the amount of airborne dust created by cutting concrete. Another important factor when using diamond chainsaws is safety Operators should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment such as safety glasses hearing protection gloves face shields hard hats respirators etc when operating any type of power tool. In addition operators should always inspect their equipment before use making sure all components are properly secured lubricated etc Finally operators should always be aware of their surroundings when operating any type of power tool including diamond chainsaws.

Chloe Robinson
Chloe Robinson

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