The requirement to cut concrete is not something that comes up very often, and is an activity that is carried out normally only by builders or contractors. When such needs do come up, the right equipment to use is a concrete saw.
Concrete saws have the power and blades to cut through very dense materials and besides concrete, may even be used to cut stone or tile. Regular cutting tools will find it difficult to deal with these materials. Most concrete saws are power tools and will use pneumatic, hydraulic, electricity or gasoline-powered engines for the huge strength requirement of cutting through concrete. Concrete saws are available in many different sizes and can be hand held or table mounted, or may even have chain saws that facilitate very large and complex cuts. Some machines may be large enough to walk behind and guide while they perform the cutting operations.
Saw blades need to run very fast in order to cut through concrete, and this causes a lot of friction and heat. Most machines use water or other cooling substances to cool the blade, which can otherwise cause it to get damaged. A common accident while using concrete cutters occurs when blades break off due to the heat. These blades have tips made of hard substances like titanium, so that they can stand the constant abrasion caused by the cutting process.
Check your Blades
Before you start any concrete cutting, it is necessary to check the condition of the blades and replace them if they are worn out or have any segments missing. The core blade must not have any cracks. The blades must fit correctly and firmly into the blade holder. The saw should be run to ensure that the blade is properly aligned and there are no distortions in the movement. Raise the blade from the working surface before you do this, as otherwise you may find that you have started cuts you do not want to make.
If you are using gasoline powered engines, make sure that you have enough fuel so that the operation is not interrupted. Ensure that you put on all the necessary safety gear like goggles, dust masks, boots, ear protection and other gear. Make sure the blade faces away from you before you start the motor, and that you have firm control over the machine. Do not lower the blade onto the surface to be cut, unless the blade has reached its optimum speed.
Mark the cut that you want to make by using chalk or paint, so that it is visible to you at all times, while the sawing operation is in progress. Initially, before the cut commences, the surface of the concrete must be completely dry. Now you can lower the blade onto the surface that you want to cut, and make sure it is aligned to the cut line. There will be a lot of dust generated when you first start the cutting operation and also afterwards, and you must be prepared for this. Very large operations may use water or oil to cool the blade and also control the dust.
The equipment must always be grasped firmly and pressure exerted on the cut, so that it bites into the concrete and progresses further. Constantly check on whether the cut is proceeding on the required alignment by raising the blade and examining the cut, after you clear it of the dust with a blower or water. All saws will have guards and you must never raise this, without stopping the engine or switching off the power. A concrete saw is just a sturdier version of any cutting tool, and all the precautions you need when you operate smaller cutting tools, like wood saws, have to be followed even more stringently. Some saws allow you to adjust cutting depths with the simple use of adjustable flanges which need to be set to the correct depth. These flanges are normally mounted on either side of the saw, and rest on the surface being cut, to serve as a guide to the cutting depth.
Once you have completed the cutting operation or need to stop work for the day, raise the saw blade before you cut off power or stop the engine. Allow the blades to cool down and examine them for any damage that may need to be rectified or corrected. Cutting of concrete surfaces must only be taken up after the surface is cleared of all loose material, as this can fly off the fast operating saw and cause injury to others. It always makes sense to ensure that large cutting operations are properly fenced off and unauthorized personnel kept away from the cutting site.