Introduction: Wooden Mosaic Tiled Wall Piece
I usually make mosaics with ceramic tiles. I couldn't help but wonder what would happen if I made a mosaic with the same technique. However, when working with ceramic tile you would grout it. It wouldn't work very well to grout wood, so instead I used epoxy resin. The whole thing is contained in a frame. This is actually my first time working with epoxy resin and I'm looking forward to using it again in the future. It's been a fun project and I'm happy with the results. After using both mediums (ceramic and wood) I would say they are actually really similar. I would love to hear what you think!
1) ¾” Plywood (21x21")
2) 8’ 2x2” (Actual Dimensions: 1.5x1.5”)
3) Wood Glue
4) Brad Nails for Brad Gun
1) 2x4 and Other Scrap Wood
2) Variety of Wood Stains
3) Epoxy Resin (The Epoxy Resin I Used)
1) Miter Saw
2) Table Saw
3) Brad/Nail Gun
4) Router and Bit
5) At Least 2' Clamps
Step 1: The Frame Materials
Cut the 8' 2x2" into four 24" pieces. Keep in mind, it should be 24" on the bottom side of the "trapezoid" shape. When you cut the ends of the sides, make sure they are all perfectly 45°—you'll definitely be able to tell later! A little tip: Cut them about a 1/4" longer than they need to be, then hold them all together at once and trim the edges, making sure they are all flush. Next cut a 21x21" square out of the 3/4" plywood.
Step 2: Preparing the Outer Frame
Part of this step is actually optional—you don't have to router the edges. However, you need to sand the 4 outer frame pieces along with the square. Whether or not you stain/paint is completely up to you, however, looking back on my process of making this project, I've found that this would be the best time to stain the frame. (I stained them as the last step and it was difficult) I stained the outer frame "Dark Walnut." Something to keep in mind: if you're routering the frame, make sure you leave at least a tile thickness between the routered edge and the square base.
Step 3: Assembling the Frame
Lay the square on a flat, level surface and surround it with the 4 outer pieces so that there are no gaps. When assembling it, it's very important that you use a square to make sure that everything is plum and tight. With that said, put a bead of glue between all the connection points. (It's handy to clamp everything in place or to have a helper) Nail it together with a brad nail gun. Definitely do at least two on both sides of the corner. Then nail along the frame, mounting the outer piece to the inner square. Be sure to sink the heads of all the nails.
Step 4: Making the Wood "Tiles"
Tiles are generally ceramic, stone, or glass. However, this project is a mosaic made up of broken wooden pieces. The method I'm about to explain is the best way, from what I found, to get a mosaic effect on the wood. Get a 2x4 around 7-10 inches in length. The same way you would split a log with an axe, split the wood from the top with a chisel. Next, reassemble the wood splits to form a 2x4. Then, tightly and completely wrap it in painter's tape. (I wouldn't recommend duct tape because of it's sticky residue on wood.) For this next part, it's best to do it on a table saw because of the 2x4's short length. Cut the 2x4 into 1/4" pieces. When you remove the tape from around the 1/4" thick "tile" it'll fall apart into mosaic pieces.
Step 5: Sealing the Edges
Make sure you use some type of sealant on the cracks, corners, and edges. You could probably make hot glue work, however I used caulking sealant. (The picture looks terrible and sloppy, but I cleaned it up quite a bit, and you can't see the sealant when it's done.) If you don't seal it properly, the resin will leak out and that would be a waste.... so please take your time.
Step 6: Doing the Mosaic Work
At this point you just have a bunch of wooden tiles and a frame. This is where you get to be creative and make your own design! Begin by choosing the first piece and applying wood glue on the back. Then place it where it needs to go on the inner square. Continue doing this and feel free to make it as you go. It also helps to make a rough outline of where you're going to put the tiles. In my particular design, I started out with solid 1/4" slices of a 2x4 and arranged them like bricks. Then they slowly broke apart and turned into an organic, flow-like design. While you're doing this, you might find you want to char the wood or stain it a different color. I found when staining tiles it's faster to glue them down, then carefully stain them later. This is because (unless you're REALLY good at puzzles) it takes a while to put them back in place after you've stained them. However, when it comes to charring, you can't char them after they're glued down because you'll accidentally burn other tiles. So here's my charring process: I make a rough layout of the tiles. Then, I take a picture and move them to an area off to the side. This is where I char them with a blow torch. Then I put and glue them back in place according to the picture. However, if you're able to free hand it and make the design as you go, you CAN char the tiles before you put them on.
Step 7: Time for the Epoxy Resin
Mix part A with part B in the ratios the directions call for. A little tip: Translate the 1:1 ratio into weight. This will be more precise than eyeballing it in a measuring cup. (The part A and part B have different weights, so keep that in mind.) Once it's thoroughly mixed, pour the resin from the cup by gliding the stream across the surface of the mosaic. It definitely helps to have a squeegee type thing and to scrape the resin. Make sure you've filled ALL of the cracks and that there's no bare wood. It's up to you whether you cover the surface or stop just below the top of the tiles. In this particular design, I made sure the wood was still showing, but was saturated with resin. Use a heat gun to pop all the bubbles and to heat it up. This will make the resin runnier. Both part A and part B put together, I used a 1/2 gallon. (A 1/4 gallon of each part)
Step 8: You're Basically Done....
Pouring the resin was the last step, besides letting it dry for 24 hours. There shouldn't be any imperfections, but if there is then you could sand and polish those out. You don't have to do this, but you could varnish the outside frame and back.