To do this project you will need the following tools:
- A wet diamond tile saw. (Purchase from Home Depot for about $50, or rent from a tool store.)
- 1 bag of tile cement referred to as Thinset
- 1 bag of sanded grout, colour to match adjacent tile
- bag of plastic tile seperators (1/8 inch and 1/4 inch thickness cross shaped.)
- A piece of wall board/ gypsum board/ plywood, measuring 40 inches square (big enough to hold insert.)
- blank paper to cover the board and on which you will sketch your design
- Compass made from stick about 20 inches long
- a roll of clear plastic shelf protector (sticky.)
Skill set required:
Do it yourself skills with no fear trying new methods
Patience, plus measure twice cut once attitude! You need this one in spades.
Step 1: The Design
In the end I chose a design that could be implemented WITHOUTspecialty tools and which could be implemented using nothing beyond straight line cuts and 45 degree cuts on the wet saw. Last, but not least, I wanted a simple design that I could implement using my supply of left over 3/8 inch floor tile.
To be clear, mosaics are usually constructed from small pieces of material. In ancient Rome, the tiles termed tessara were made from cubes of limestone, typically 1" on a side. Nowadays, the tessarae are made from virtually any shape and size and material, including semi-precious and precious stone, glass, marble, and ceramic . However, the people who design and construct mosaics still tend to use pieces of 1" or less in surface area. THIS PROJECT IS MADE WITH BIG PIECES!
The design I am using is not original to me. I did change the design, including using BIG pieces instead of tessare, but otherwise the basic design is pretty generic. If you just love it and want to start producing these, please check for any copyright. This instructable shows how to construct, not how to design.
In order to build the inlay, I did a fairly straight forward analysis of the design. The pic here is from an AutoCad image I created simply by copying each element in turn using a repeat copy tool. The basics are straight forward, 36 outer elements into 360 degrees gives a 10 degree subtended angle, the 18 element set is twice that or a 20 degree subtended angle. The circumferances, are chosen arbitrarily but selected to give a pleasing pattern. The entire inlay uses a 1/8 inch grout line.
Step 2: Drawing the Circles
I decided on a 35 inch diameter inlay, since that was all the would fit on my piece of 40 inch by 48 inch piece of gypsum board. On this board, I placed 2 sheets of 24 inch by 35 inch presentation paper, taped in the middle to cover the entire board.
To draw the circles of the inlay, make yourself a compass from a piece of wood similiar to a yard stick, cut off at about 20 inches. Drive a 3 inch nail at one end and drill holes along the length of the compass at the various places ( given below) to accomodate a lead pencil.
Next find the centre of the inlay. Draw a line side to side on the paper. Draw a second line perpendicular to first. Draw all the circles using this intersect as your centre. To duplicate what I did, draw circles using the numbers below as the radius of each circle. You can alter any of these to suit your own requirements. I
used 7 circles.
rad1: 2-3/4 inch rad2: 2-7/8 inch rad3: 3-3/4 inch
rad4: 6-1/4 inch rad5: 6-7/8 inch rad6: 10-5/8 inch
rad7: 17-1/2 inch
Step 3: The Circles
Step 4: The Spokes That Define the Tile Pieces
Use the protractor as shown here to mark the 20 degree arcs. Draw a line from the marks through the centre, extending the line from one edge of the design to the other. I used a yard stick.
For the 10 degree lines, repeat for the process by marking 10, 30, 40 degrees degrees. I found it useful to use a very sharp pencil and a different colour for the 10 and 20 degree lines.
Step 5: Completed Spokes
Step 6: Draw the Basic Elements
The diagram shows the basic design elements of the inlay. Recall the AutCad drawing as a guide.
To proceed, use a sharp pencil and draw lines inside the areas defined by the spokes and circles. This line should be 1/16 inch inside the defining area. This is 1/2 of the grout line. What I did was to draw these lines on a piece of tracing paper, to make it easier to transfer the lines to a piece of tile. When cut, this will be your pattern piece. When setting the saw fence remember the angle is 1/2 the angle of element being cut. Make lots of practice cuts!
Note that the angles on the pointed pieces are 45 degee angles drawn from the end of each tile.
As a guide on how to proceed. Label the tile circles from the outside in to the centre. there are 6 tile circles. So the first circle is the dark grey tile triangles. I would suggest that you leave these to the very end. Start with the second circle and cut 18 sandy and 18 grey-green elements using your pattern piece. Check frequently to see if the fit is good in the intended segment.
For the second set of cuts, cut the pieces for circle 4, the sandy coloured pieces. There are 18 of these.
So far there has been no reason to round the end of any tile pieces. This is because for the segments that fit in the 10 degree areas, the ends are a good approximation of the arc of the circle into which they fit.The pieces of the third circle are in a 20 degree arc segment, and the interface between the second and third circle will require rounding
Step 7: The Assembly
Rounding the bottoms of the third circle elements can be done on the wet saw by using the edge of the blade as a grinding wheel. You will need to do this with the centre circular piece as well.
When you try to fit all the pieces of any circle together, seperate each piece with a 1/8 inch spacer. When you do this the lines between each segment becomes parallel. This picture shows how the 20 degree pieces are forcing the fourth circle elements out of true.
The center piece is cut with multiple straight cuts until almost round. Finish carefully with the edge of the wet saw a a grinder
Step 8: The Completed Inlay
Later experience showed me that I should have used mesh backing over the drawing, again with sticky side up. In this way I could have applied the grout THROUGH the mesh before installing the inlay. I could have also stiffened the inlay by applying Thinset over the grout, which would have simplified the install greatly. Later I found that mesh used for taping gypsum wall boards was an excelllent and cheap source of mesh.
Step 9: Remove Some Floor Tile
Step 10: The Install
Step 11: Removing Thinset: the Morning After
This picture shows me paying the price as I carefully picked Thinset out of the grout lines. This took about two days of miserable grunt work. I did learn however, and if I get time I will publish an instructable showing a second inlay, using tessare and done in a more productive way.
Step 12: The End
It looks good, I enjoyed the learning experience and I did make another. Comments of any type welcome.