I didn't do much tile work when I was a remodeling contractor, but when I did, it wasn't worth dropping $1,000 on a heavier-than-an-engine-block tile saw, that would end up spending more time in my shop than making me money. So I made do with a low-rent saw and hand tools instead. Still, it would have been nice to have a light, low-cost tile saw for my occasional tile jobs. Porter-Cable just filled this need with its model 1500 portable wet saw. It's designed to cut all kinds of tile and some masonry-based products. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try it out.
The assembly instructions are straightforward and make an important point about setting the cord up with a "drip sag" to prevent any water running down the cord from reaching the receptacle. The instructions, however, didn't tell me early enough that the blade housing must be open (it's the wingnut, stupid) to mount it on the saw. I learned this the hard way; it's next to impossible to install the housing when it's closed. The saw armature, pump, and tubes require some easy assembly, then set nicely into the blow-molded plastic tub.
This saw is very loud, but cuts accurately and has plenty of power. As on larger saws, a sliding table moves under the fixed saw blade. I took 1/8-inch off a tile's edge to test accuracy: There was no slop in the slide or the blade, and neither the slide nor the table picked up any vibration from the motor. The table has a stamped measuring scale with an adjustable stop that reads 6-1/4-inches left and right of the blade. The right side was 1/16-inch off.
The 1500 cut perfect 90- and 45-degree angles on 4x4-inch quarry tiles. It handles straight cuts on 12x12-inch tiles, but they're hard to line up for diagonal cuts because they don't fit on the table. I cut granite, quarry, glazed-ceramic, terra cotta, and marble tiles. I also cut a marble threshold and even a masonry paver. This tool cut them all well and left nice edges. You have to cut the thicker stuff just a little bit slower, but not much. There was slight chip-out in glazed tile, but it was difficult to spot.
The pump moves plenty of water over the blade to keep it cool. Keeping relatively clean water in the tub prevents the pump from clogging. If you set up inside, you must account for about 6 inches of overspray going past the blade housing's mud flap. When I performed this test, the saw didn't come with a folding stand, so I set it up on saw horses. Porter-Cable now offers a folding stand for the 1500 that's a welcome addition.
The switch locks on with a downstroke; tapping it disengages it quickly. By the 100th cut with soaking hands, the switch was a little tough on my fingertips. I wish it was more tactile. Clean-up is easy at the end of the job. The saw and slide assembly lift easily from the tub, which you can then drain by removing the rubber drain plug. Tipping it sideways and hitting it with a garden hose quickly removes accumulated debris.
I like this tool. It's excellent for a contractor doing repairs or small jobs. It only weighs 34 1/2 pounds, so it's easy to move around or store at the shop. Most importantly, it makes good cuts easily and repeatedly. At $300, I'd have it ready to go for that next tile job.