Is there any way of speeding up and improving cutting accuracy with paving materials?

There is a good range of disc cutters and cut-off saws for cutting paving materials, including equipment from Emak, Husqvarna, Makita and Stihl. But whatever you use, preparation, concentration and skill are needed to make the perfect cut.

One item that comes to mind as helpful in getting straight and accurate cuts is the Makita 4112HS electric stone saw. Do not dismiss this machine just because of the word "electric" - it is just very different to petrol cut-off saws. With a massive 2,400W of power, this is every bit a professional machine and it is great for cutting slabs.

The 4112HS is the smaller of two stone cutters from Makita and has a 305mm diameter blade, compared to 355mm on the bigger 4114S. When we tested the 4112HS, one landscaper found the unit easy to use freehand. "You can cut a straight line easily, even though you can't always see the groove at the back," he reported.

I particularly like the depth setting on the 4112HS. It is adjustable from zero to 100mm. I also like the fact that the motor and handle can be positioned within a 45 degs angle for convenience and control.

There are lots of safety features, such as full rubber sheathing to protect the operator's hands. There is also an operator presence control to depress to enable the machine to run and a dust extraction connection comes as standard.

Other notable features on the 4112HS include the Super Joint System, which is a type of clutch system that disengages the drive if the cutting wheel becomes jammed, thus protecting the operator and the tool's drive gear from harm. A soft start system provides added protection.

It is well worth noting that there is a new piece of kit expected to become available from Stihl in the next few months. It is called the Brick Jig and it has been developed for the fast and accurate cutting of bricks and brick-size paving blocks.

For years, Stihl has manufactured a range of robust and reliable cut-off saws so it seems a natural progression for the company to provide ways of holding and positioning materials for cutting. The Brick Jig is designed to do just that - and it dramatically improves safety, speed and accuracy.

The Brick Jig is a metal frame, comprising a base, adjustable end stops and a cutting guide that allows clean, accurate and safe cuts to be made in bricks. The jig holds bricks in line for easy cutting and the guide is adjustable to allow for a variety of cuts - either square or at an angle.

There is no need to mark the bricks and then, thankfully, absolutely no excuse for trying to hold the brick with your foot while you cut it. What is more, the guide is easy to remove for cleaning purposes.

Two versions of the Stihl Brick Jig are available. The first is a three-brick model that allows the operator to cut three bricks at a time, straight or at an angle, in under three minutes.

The other jig is a 10-brick unit, holding up to 10 bricks at a time for a smooth, trouble-free cut in under three minutes. This one has large folding legs for easy transport and storage. In use, it holds bricks firmly at any set angle, allowing repeatable cutting.

Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 27 years and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.

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