Review By Dean Bielanowski  GMC Website - http://www.gmcompany.com


GMC LS
TSAW Laser Tile Cutting Saw
Review
By Dean Bielanowski

 

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 do it!

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.

Specifications
Below are the listed specifications as per the manual for this tool:

Power: 650W
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.

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GMC LSTSAW Photos
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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
either way.


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.

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