I’ve found the sites below to have content that’s interesting and relevant to the use of these wonderful little concrete saws.
Feel free to drop us a line if you have a question or if there’s something you’d like to see us add to the site. Do you have a saw that you’d like to review? Submit it to us in the format we present our other reviews, and if it’s a well-written, objective review of a saw we haven’t already discussed, we’ll post your review and make you famous! Be sure to include a few pictures of the saw from different angles.
Are you a concrete saw manufacturer and would like to have your saw reviewed here? Send your request to the email address below and we’ll contact you to make appropriate arrangements. Any saws sent to us for review will become ours upon receipt and will not be returned.
Send snail mail to the following address:
P.O. Box 146
Kimberly, WI 54136
Or you can contact me at . Update: Because I have too many irons in the fire, I’ve stopped responding to email sent here. Sorry – hope the info you find on the site is enough.
I look forward to hearing from you
You really want to know about us? I’m flattered!
Well, here’s our story. I began working in the landscaping industry way back in 1985 as a bottom-rung grunt laborer. If there was a garbage job that needed to be done, I was the guy that did it. I tried to work hard and learn as I worked. Working for a company that wanted to make it’s move to become a player in the hardscape arena in that market, I learned about installing and cutting brick from a foreman who’d been around pavers for a long while. Back then we used the now seldom-seen guillotine-style splitter. You know, place the brick in, crank-crank the blade down, then snap it quick. It made fast cuts, but precision left a lot to be desired.
Next I tried a carbon blade in my 7 ½” circular saw. That lasted about 3 days – too time consuming, not to mention it trashed the saw. So on a flyer I laid down $750 for a Stihl TS400 cutoff saw. It was small, light and powerful and held out the promise of cutting my production times. I still wasn’t on board yet with diamond blades – they were $250+ a pop from the only supplier I knew of in the area, and I just couldn’t justify spending that kind of money on a saw blade. So I’d buy stacks of 14″ carbon blades at $6 apiece, spending time after every 30 minutes of cutting, replacing the blade.
But then just like the saw, one day I got tired of wasting time and stuck some money into a good diamond blade. Now we’ll only use the carbon ones to cut pieces of metal, and that’s only if we happen to be at the shop when the need presents itself. Otherwise we use that diamond blade to cut everything.
Back to the saw – we started using these saws exclusively on all of our paver projects and never looked back. We’ve used a few different brands, and have had varying levels of success and failure. At this writing we’re running two tub saws (Target and Clipper) and four cutoff saws (Partner and Stihl) daily. It’s through the years I’ve spent with my hands on the saws that I write the saw reviews on this site, and the information presented to help you cut more, better, faster and safer. I hope you find it of use.
We got a little vindication on the project I mentioned in our last article about cutting channels in weir stones with our brick saws.At the time the client had quipped that the channels we had cut would not be enough to direct the flow of a garden hose (and we would be hooking up two 10,000 gph monster pumps for this pond, quite a bit more than a garden hose).
I tried to calmly explain that the channels were not intended to direct all of the water flow, but they would help to ensure that where he (the client) had wanted to see water splashing over these stones, there would be water splashing. Without the channels the water would go wherever it wanted. It might look fine, it might look terrible. The channels would help guarantee success. In short, he didn’t believe me.
Well, we got some much-needed vindication when the pumps were brought to life and the waterfall started crashing. Roughly 70% of the falling water was directed by our shallow little channels cut by our brick saws! Up your butt, Jobu!
Over the last 2-3 weeks we’ve been working on a larger commercial project (large for us, anyway). We were excited about taking the project on when I first created the design roughly 12 months ago, but as the DNR and local governement got involved, the project start date got pushed further and further back, to where we were starting the project 6-8 months later than expected. Then came the changes by both the general contractor and their client; our color-rendered design was essentially erased and we were designing and installing on the fly.
Part of our new “design” included a crashing waterfall using weir stones that weighed 5-6,000 pounds each. This change required us to rent much larger equipment just to be able to lift the stones. But once they were in place, I needed a way to help direct the water flow from the two 10,000 gph pumps feeding this waterfall. This is where our Partner concrete saws came into play. Dolomitic limestone is very dense, but not all that bad to cut through. So we simply cut a few channels with out concrete saws to direct the water flow, slicing numerous grooves close together, then using a hammer drill with chisel bit to clean out the material between the grooves to make the channel.
As the client has made and unmade many decisions during this process, he decided that he didn’t like the look of the channels, even though there really would be no way of him seeing them, unless he climbed atop the waterfall without the pumps running (and who would want to do that?). So we’ll be burning up more man-hours chiseling these channels to make them look more “natural”. I’ve often said that if it weren’t for clients and employees, this job would be a breeze.
I’ll post some pictures when the project is done.
I’ve always thought it was a little inaccurate to call these machines a “saw”; after all, it’s really more like a very narrow grinding wheel. For example, today I was removing a piece of patterned limestone from a walkway we had installed last year, because we had mistakenly put the piece straddling a seam in the concrete slab below. The result was a cracked piece of stone. So I was using our Partner K650 concrete saw to cut through the mortar around this piece, then hit it with a hammer drill to break the stone out. While I was moving from one spot to another and changing my grip on the running saw, it grazed my leg. Thankfully I had my keys in my pocket, and they stopped the blade from cutting into my leg. But they didn’t prevent the saw from ripping a hole in my pants (see below). The good part of all this and the reason I question calling it a saw, is because had this been a 7 1/4″ circular saw, I’d probably be in the hospital, the blade having ripped through my pants and keys and into my leg. But because it’s just a gas-powered, brick-cutting grinding wheel, it cut my pants, nicked up my leatherman micra, and spilled a few coins onto the stone walk.
Which would it be?
If you’re new into hardscaping, or maybe you just struck out on your own with a new business, you’re probably in the process of accumulating tools. This can be both fun and nerve-racking; fun because, hey – what tool buying isn’t fun? It’s also nerve-racking because you have a limited budget, so every purchase has to count. Buying the wrong tool could mean having to buy a different model of the same kind of tool soon after the first purchase, cutting into the margins you need to feed your family. Or it could mean having to work inefficiently with the wrong tool for the job.
So I thought I’d look back at all of the kinds of hardscape work we’ve done and rank brick saws based on if I could only have that single saw. I’m not going to rank brand against brand, mainly because different brands perform differently under different circumstances, and a brand that doesn’t work well with what we do might be perfect for what you do.
First I should describe the type of work we most often do. We run a landscape company that specializes in hardscape installations, so brick paver patios and retaining walls are our normal fare for a given day. Cutting pavers and SRW’s are a daily occurrence for us.
So one of the things that is important to us is a saw’s ability to cut to a specific depth. Having to flip retaining wall block over, making a second cut to get all the way through is a drawback.
Another important consideration is the weight of the saw. Heavier saws aren’t bad when you only have a few cuts to make, but if you’re cutting for an hour or more non-stop, a few extra pounds makes a big difference. So I’d want the brick saw I chose to be light.
For now I’ll set aside issues of reliability, vibration dampening and other things like that, as they are issues associated with brands more than saw types or sizes.
With those two main considerations being the basis for my decision, depth of cut and weight of saw, my choice for a first (and/or only) saw is going to be a 14″ saw, every time. Many times the difference between a 14″ brick saw and a 12″ brick saw for a given manufacturer is just the size of the blade guard. Engine size and output are often identical between the saws (check the specs on the Partner K700 and the K650 for reference). And you can always put a 12″ diamond blade into a 14″ or 16″ saw, so you’ll maintain the maneuverability around curved patio cutting that you have with a 12″ saw, but with just a bit more weight.
Because it’s a 14″, it’ll have a depth of cut of about 5″, which can cut some smaller retaining wall blocks all the way through. But it still can’t cut the more standard block completely through, as those tend to be 6″ thick or thicker. My rationale for a 14″ saw in this situation goes like this: When building a retaining wall, you’re not cutting anywhere near as much as you’d cut when finishing a brick paver patio. Because the frequency of cutting these block is much less, and because a 16″ saw tends to be so much heavier than a 14″, the negative of the added weight outweighs the positive of the additional depth of cut. If we were installing more segmental retaining walls than anything else, my opinion would probably be different.
We’re in the process of updating the site, including a new look, new graphics and other features (like this Other Uses page). Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to put it all together yet, so I appreciate your patience while I work on bringing all the new goodies online.
Though the handheld concrete saws rule the roost for ability and portability, they has some cousins that can make quick work of other concrete cutting tasks.
Less portable, bigger and heavier than a cutoff saw, the tub saw makes delicate cutting of small pieces easier and safer. Called a tub saw for the tub the motor and blade sit over, it has a wheeled tray for smooth feeding into the blade. We have two tub saws in our stable of equipment, and use them primarily for detail paver cuts. Often we’ll have to make a notch or semi-circle cut in a paver to allow room for electrical conduit or a drain or some other obstacle. Using a cutoff saw for this can be pretty dangerous (I know, because I’ve done it too many times). You have to place the cutoff saw on the ground and hold the saw steady and at full throttle with one hand, while the other hand carefully works with the blade to carve material out of the brick paver. Far too often, you twist the brick just a bit too much, it binds the blade a little, and the brick is yanked out of your hand and your hand pulled toward the blade, all in an instant. I’m fortunate to not have had a good chunk of meat removed from my hands…so far.
But this is why we use the tub saw for these cuts. On most brands you can adjust the cutting depth, place the material on the tray and hold it with both hands, and guide it as slowly as needed into the blade to remove unwanted material. And most tub saws blades spin slower than the RPM of a cutoff saw, though there is more torque. While trying to make certain cuts can still bind the blade a bit and pull the paver right through the saw and your hands with it, it’s harder to do. And if you take care to keep fingers and thumbs out of the path of the blade just in case it binds, you’ll have happy, healthy fingers for years to come.
Partner has just unveiled their first gas-powered ring saw to the US market. While I haven’t had to opportunity to cut any material with a ring saw, I’m anxious to try. Ring saws used to be the exclusive domain of hydraulic-driven tools, but Partner has recently figured out how to marry the body of their K-series saws to the ring-saw mechanisms. A ring saw works very similarly to a standard rotating diamond blade saw, except you get a far greater cutting depth from a given blade diameter. For example, a 14” ring saw will provide 10” of cutting depth. The secret is in the more complex mechanics that allow a diamond ring blade to rotate around a narrow drive wheel, gliding on four rollers.
While the saw has some distinct advantages in areas such as demolition work, rescue work, or other work that requires deep but less accurate cutting, then this saw might be of great benefit. I’m not certain how many companies offer the specialized diamond blades for this kind of saw, which may keep the per lineal foot of cut price higher than a typical cutoff saw. But if you’re looking for 10 inch cutting depth without hauling around a saw with a 24 inch diameter blade, a ring saw might fit the bill nicely.
Concrete Chain Saws
Another newer entry into the field of concrete saws is the concrete chain saw. Born of the need to have an even more portable concrete cutter that could make some rough, deep cuts, the concrete chain saw was created. Recognizing the need for better air filtration than the usual chain saw, these saws have filtration systems much like their concrete saw cousins. These will also provide for a deeper cut, and are great for general cutting or concrete pipe cutting. I’ve read they are good for precision cutting, but just like you don’t use a chain saw to build a Queen Anne chair, I don’t think a concrete chain saw is the best tool for most precision stone or masonry cutting. After talking to another contractor who uses this saw, he agreed, and they only use theirs for rough cutting of pipes or other concrete.
I’m going to cut to the quick on this one (pun totally intended). If you have a saw that you use to either run different sized diamond blades on, or you use specialized blades for each type of cutting you do, getting a used blade mounted correctly on your cutoff saw is important to the life of the blade. And mainly what I’m talking about is the orientation of the diamond grit in the blade.
Some blades have only a small indicator on the label as to which way the blade should be facing to make sure it spins in the intended direction. If the label gets damaged, there doesn’t seem to be another way to tell which way the blade should be turning. But there is, and it’s pretty simple. Just look at the diamond segments at the end of the blade.
What you see pictured below is a close up picture of a diamond segment on a cutoff saw blade. From the picture you can see that the diamond grit or bits kind of “leading the charge” when digging into the material being cut. The matrix material behind each piece of diamond is protected by that diamond bit, at least until that diamond fractures and falls out; then the matrix material will soon follow, getting quickly ground away by the material being cut.
So think of it like a comet – the head of the comet is going in the direction you should be cutting. Mount the blade accordingly. Do this and you’ll help get the most out of your blade.