Concrete cutting - do it myself?

tphaggerty

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 27, 2007
218
Poughquag, NY
I have to cut some concrete on my pool deck in order to repair a return line leak. It appears as though my pool builder is out of business, so no help there. Home Depot rents the hand held cutters (they look like oversize skill saws) and the rental guy says they cut like a dream. I am concerned about making the cuts straight and nice for asthetic reasons, so was also considering checking into a wheeled, walk behind cutter.

Has anyone out there done this. Would you do it again or recommend hiring someone? I've done a significant amount of handiwork, but no concrete cutting. Any advice?
 

cobra46

LifeTime Supporter
May 31, 2007
467
Rocklin, Ca
I seen it done a few times and it doesn't look like rocket science. I'm handy like you and would have no problem giving it a try.

Find a neighbor you don't like and practice on his driveway. :)
 

Bpotter

Well-known member
Apr 16, 2007
54
Gulfport Mississippi
This is something that you can absolutely do.

I would not say that they cut like a dream but it is relatively easy.

Just keep in mind the dangers of kickback.
Sometimes if you get complacent and hit a piece of rebar it may kick back.

Keep the concrete wet to minimize dust, wear a mask and a face shield (or just safety glasses) and you will be just fine.

What I have done in the past to get a straight line is – tack down a 2X4 with some read heads as a guide then run the blade right along the side to get started.
After the cuts are started take the boards up and continue to the required depth.

Good luck please let us know how it works out.
 

Molson

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 15, 2008
479
Midland, Ontario
Concrete saws are easy to use. Just respect it. It has a lot of torque and you'll notice it will "sway" when held in the air. Let the blade spin up before introducing it to the concrete, hold it firm and follow your line (or the board) once the cut is started, it will stay fairly straight. Keep two hands on it.
Like a chainsaw, respect it and don't get lazy around it.
Most of all, have fun with it!
 

sevver

Well-known member
Mar 27, 2007
477
Morris, IL
If you score the line first, then make several passes you can very easily keep the cut fairly straight. Walk behind saws are not necessarily easier to control. They can easily be turned off course, and getting it straight again can be a mess. If you stick the blade, that can be a mess too.

Just use a concrete saw, one of the handheld ones with a diamond blade, use a chalkline to lay out the cuts. Spray the line with Aquanet hairspray or even clear coat to keep the lines there, and put a hose on low next to the blade when you cut. If you get a newer saw, it should have the ability to connect a spray bottle to it. You would just have to have someone else there to keep pumping it up.

I have done about everything remotely imaginable with a concrete saw. Cut holes in the side of manholes underground, cut out pipe sections, cut pipe overhead. I have used them underwater (the blade) and to do live watermain breaks with water spraying all over the place. These saws are more powerful that you would imagine. A kickback could flip the saw around and take out your face or chest with a 14" blade spinning at 7000 RPM.

Respect the tool, hold on to the tool, and let it do all the work and you will be fine. If you use water, you will have a slurry mess that should be shop vacuumed up immediately. If you use a sprayer attachment, you can vac it up as you go. This would require the sprayer runner to do double duty.

To get the concrete out you will need to jack hammer. If you jackhammer through a wet mop it helps keep the debris from flying and the dust down too.
 

muss08

In The Industry
Mar 22, 2008
56
Maryland
One more point I'd like to push is make sure the saw is spinning at full speed. If you push into your cut or down to hard and slow the blade down then you will most likely pop your circuit breaker. Also- the choice of which kind of saw you want to use depends on how deep your concrete is. The walk behinds, while harder to control and be straight, cut significantly deeper than the hand held saws. If you have a hammer drill you can drill down to see how deep the concrete is or dig in an area where the grass meets the deck (if possible).
 

sevver

Well-known member
Mar 27, 2007
477
Morris, IL
This is more the kind of saw I am talking about.



I have used the electric ones before, and if I remember correctly, the blade spun backwards so the saw was always wanting to push back towards you.

You can get saws like the one above with 16" blades, and I believe that they will cut 6 3/4 inches deep. But, unless you are planning on overlapping your cuts half way in each direction, you won't get the full depth in the corners anyhow. Basically, the reason I say that, is that if you are going to jackhammer it out, you really don't need to cut all the way through. All you want then is something nice and straight to make a decent looking patch when it is over with. They do make electric jackhammers, which are by no means anything compared to the compressor driven ones, but they work absolutely fine in a pinch. There is an art to running a jackhammer too by the way. :wink:
 

kamoo

Member
Apr 16, 2008
18
Port St Lucie FL
As said above just let the saw do the work. You can rent the saw and diamond blade from anywhere. If you have alot of cutting you may want to buy your own diamond blade (not the abrasive blades), just depends on what they charge for rent and wear. If you force the saw too much use the wrong blade i.e. green concrete or asphalt, and/or dont keep the blade cool, you will burn up the blade really fast, about $150 a piece. Some blades you can use dry too, just know what you have and use it accordingly. A good electric jackhammer should do fine for a patio. I think the tow behind compressor, jack hammer and all the hose would be a PITA for what you are doing.
 

tphaggerty

LifeTime Supporter
Jun 27, 2007
218
Poughquag, NY
Belldiver said:
I would absolutely recommend practicing on some obscure section (or in the center of the area to be busted out) before making your final visible cut.
This is great advice, would have thought of it myself AFTER messing up a few lines!

Thanks to everyone for replying, sounds like a handheld will work and it really shouldn't be that tough to keep nice lines. Thanks again for all the advice and encouragement!!! This is why I hang out here.