How to Make Miniature Roof Tiles Out of Clay




About: I love creating. I love ART in all its forms. I am a daughter of the 50s, born in 1992. I had the pleasure to be a Featured Author on this fabulous site, and you can read my interview here: https://www.ins...

I've been trying to make miniature houses lately, and one of the things I love the most about miniatures is trying to make them as similar as possible to the real big ones.
For this reason, I wanted to give a realistic look to the roof of my miniature houses using these little roof tiles sold in hobby stores. The problem about them though, is that there are not many tiles in a single package and I can never know for sure how many I need...
Luckily, my problem didn't last long because I immediately had the idea of making them using why spending money when you can create your own tiles?
You can make as many as you want and, believe it or not, they are very fast to make!

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Step 1: What You Need

For the clay cutter:
  • (empty) soda can
  • cutter
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • scotch tape

Step 2: Prepare Your Soda Can

The fastest way to make identical tiles is to use a clay cutter, just like cookie cutters.
I didn't have one (and I didn't even want to buy one) so I thought I could easily make one using a piece of soda can!

The first thing you should do is washing your can and let it dry, this way you won't find drops of soda when you cut it.
Once your can is dry, cut both the top and bottom using a cutter.
Finally, open the cylinder you obtained cutting from one side to the other and flatten the strip.
Be careful when you handle the can, the edges are sharp!

What you have now is an aluminium sheet you can work with!

Step 3: Make Your Clay Cutter - Part 1

Cut a rectangle 4,8 x 2,5 cm (1.88 x 0.98 inches).
This is all the aluminium you'll need for your clay cutter, you can use the rest to make others if you want.

Now, working on the colored side of the rectangle, trace a line at about 5mm (0.19 inches) from one of the longest sides and bend the aluminium following that line.
This will be the top of your clay cutter and you won't hurt yourself while you use it this way.

Step 4: Make Your Clay Cutter - Part 2

Keep working on the colored side and divide the rectangle in 4 sections tracing the lines with a pencil.
Each section has an exact length, in this order:
  1. 8mm (0.31 inches)
  2. 1,5 cm (0.59 inches)
  3. 1 cm (0.39 inches)
  4. 1,5 cm (0.59 inches)
Bend each line using a ruler to make sure that the bends are straight.
As you do this you'll notice that the rectangle will start to close by itself in a perfect "roof tile" shape!

Secure the rectangle with pieces of scotch tape both on the inside and outside, joining the two ends together.

Your clay cutter is done!

Step 5: Cut Your Tiles

Cut a piece of clay and flatten it using a rolling pin, making it about 2mm thick (0.07 inches).

Place your clay cutter on the clay and press on it.
Do this many times to cover the whole surface of the clay and cut as many tiles as possible.

When you are done, remove the exceeding clay (you can reuse it later).

Step 6: Give the Right Shape

Now you have to give the classic round shape to the tiles.

To do this, take something that has a thin, circular shape like a pencil or a stick and place your tiles on it, pressing a little with your fingers.
Do this to all your tiles so that they won't be flat anymore and let them dry over night.

Step 7: Paint Your Tiles!

Now, if you used clay of the color that you want for your tiles, you can skip these steps because you are done!

In case you used white clay (or different color) like I did, you can proceed in 2 different ways.

One of them is to paint your tiles one at a time with acrylic paint. The only problem about this method is that it takes quite a long time because they are so small and hard to'll end up with your fingers full of paint!
But the result will probably be more accurate this way.

Once they are dry you can finally glue them to the roof of your miniature house or use them for whatever you want.

Step 8: Glue and Paint

The other method is to glue them to the roof first, then paint them all at once.
It will be much faster and easier even though some spots will be harder to reach with the brush.

Well, it doesn't really matter what way you choose, what is important is that your miniature roof tiles are done!
Aren't they cute? :)

If you liked this instructable, I would really appreciate your vote :)

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    47 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    If you want to make them even more authentic, you can make them a little smaller on one end. Then you would have pans for your barrels. Just turn the small end UP (towards the roof ridge) for the barrels and the small end down (towards the eave or bottom edge of the roof) for the pans. put them on the roof the same as you are.
    Cool, though... I love miniatures. I carve would and stone into miniature cars, trains planes, animals, what ever.

    9 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    NOTE: the pans would be round side down and the barrels round side up. Put the pans down first then the barrels 'inside' the pans.... make sense? look closely at a tile roof and you will see what I mean...
    Keep craftin


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    OK, last note... also you would put the 'barrels' across the ridge (peak/top) of the roof and across the top edge of the slanted pitched roof to keep the rain from going under the tiles where it is opened up. Don't know if you want to spend that extra time with the pans and ridge tiles, but it would look more authentic.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, thank you so much for your advice!
    This was the first time I made roof tiles like this so I didn't think about all that, but I really want to try to do what you said, it sounds really nice and realistic, thank you! :)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Siete i benvenuti, Linda
    I put roofs on houses for almost 20 years so just something I notice,
    Most people don't think of 'pans and barrels' for roof tiles unless you have put them on a roof.
    But they look great and really rustic the way you have them. Buon lavoro.
    You don't have to make the one end smaller, but that is how you get the old style tile roof look. I like the 'tile cutter' you made and it can easily be modified to make these tiles, also. Using your measurements, one end would be 8mm, the other end you should start at 6.5mm and see how that looks. Making them thinner would also help. If you make them this way, make them maybe .5mm, but no more than 1mm, thick, if you can.
    Once you have the tile cutter made, it will be just as fast to make them as it does now.
    Good luck with that and would like to see how it comes out if you do it.
    And, that WOULD be "I carve WOOD and stone..."
    I don't have any pics of the carvings due to a computer crash and lost them, but I do have a couple projects I could take pics of. I do mostly Leather goods, but the carvings are what I do in miniature. You can see some of my leather on my Facebook page 'One Horse Town leather company'.
    I keep would like to an instructible, but don't think about it till I am reading what others do here.
    Tenere lavorazione


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! I will definitely show it to you when I try it :)
    I've just looked at your leather work and it's amazing! What you make is really, really good. I hope you post the instructions for those things soon, it would be nice to see how you make them and I'm sure that many people would love them :)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Grazie, Linda,
    Since most all my projects are custom made for customers, I never seem to have the camera around when I do them.
    I have thought about doing a short series on tooling leather, or maybe a small leather project. Just haven't found the right project and the camera at the same time.... hahahaa.
    But, thanx again and good luck with the tiles.
    Tenere lavorazione


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    By the way, I am so curious to see what you make, it must be great! Are you going to post your projects on this site?


    2 years ago

    Can I make my own clay? Or do I have to buy it?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I checked you measurements of the tiles and I think this scale is 1:24, and not 1:12.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Oh that would be wonderful, so much more realistic! Please post a picture of your work here if you can, I would love to see it! :)