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## tilemakers and the misers' alternative

### Janet H Walker on thu 16 apr 98

...About the Georgies tile cutters...especially great for hexagons...

Linda Blossom was ruminating about why on earth one would use a
tile cutter for square tiles when a carpenter's square and a piece
of wood would make a tile template.
...faster and there is less waste than a cookie cutter...

I thought I'd chime in with a little idea that has saved me a lot
of time in making hexagonal tiles. With any tile, one big problem
is where to cut the first one from a slab in order to get as many
from that slab as you can, with as little waste as you can. This is
not always obvious, especially with hexagons! After thinking about
increasingly baroque technical solutions to this problem, I finally
got it simplified to its essence. "Ahem! Drumroll please!" You
don't make one template; you make a whole set of them at once.

Take a piece of newsprint and a hexagon with the right
point-to-point "diameter" for what you're doing. (It is not that
easy to find something with the right 60 degree angle for making the
model -- look for a floor tile that you can trace the angle from.
And measure your model until you get it right -- all of the
distances between opposite points have to be equal.) Got that?

Now place the model on the paper and make red dots at each corner.
Move it along so the template shares an edge with the existing dots
and make more dots. Do that until the whole piece of paper is
"tiled" with the dots. Not real need to fill in the lines for the
edges but if it makes you feel good, by all means go ahead!. Make
at least as many tiles lengthwise and crosswise as would overhang
your longest or widest slab. This gives you leeway.

Now, you can place the piece of paper on top of a fresh slab and see
where the dots fall relative to the edges of the slab. Move the
paper around until you have found the optimal orientation. Now poke
through the holes with a pin tool and cut out your tiles.

(I use transparent tape over the little dots on both sides of the
paper. This way the template lasts quite a while because the dots
don't tear from repeated use. Also, it gives a little hard spot for
pressing onto the slab in order to check that all the tiles you
think are going to fit are actually going to come out of that
particular slab. Then you can reposition the paper onto the dots.)

I hope there are others out there similarly obsessed with minimizing
scrap (if it isn't waste, it doesn't need recycling) who can use
this particular idea. I remain hopeful that there is perhaps a
better way out there. Although I've been pretty satisfied with
this. The main advantage over using a single plain tile template is
that you minimize waste because you can see at one glance how many
tiles you are going to get out of a particular slab AND where to
place the first one in order to get the rest.

Cheers,
Jan Walker
Cambridge MA USA
jwalker@world.std.com

### Dwiggins, Sandra on fri 17 apr 98

As a coda to Jan's message, I remember seeing in Donald(?) Firth's book on
Plaster Casting (which I looked through in a bookstore because it was \$75!, but
worth every penny even though I couldn't afford it) a reference to a tile design
company which has large cast resin or plastic tile cutters for unusually shaped
tiles. In the photograph shown, the cutter looked about 24" by 36" and cut a
whole slab at once, thereby eliminating all that guess work. I don't know how
much it would cost to have one of these made, but I definitely thought at the
time that if tiles were a mainstay of my business this is an investment I would
gladly make. Paying \$50 for a single tile cutter and then thinking about the
time involved in making each tile individually is not a cost-effective or even
efficient way to produce a large number of unusually shaped tiles.

I never looked into the cost of getting one of these made, but even if the cost
was \$200-\$300, it would definitely pay for itself very soon. Any injection
molding or plastics manufacturing company could do the work.
Sandy

-----Original Message-----
From: Janet H Walker [SMTP:jwalker@world.std.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 1998 7:57 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list CLAYART
Subject: tilemakers and the misers' alternative

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
...About the Georgies tile cutters...especially great for hexagons...

Linda Blossom was ruminating about why on earth one would use a
tile cutter for square tiles when a carpenter's square and a piece
of wood would make a tile template.
...faster and there is less waste than a cookie cutter...

I thought I'd chime in with a little idea that has saved me a lot
of time in making hexagonal tiles. With any tile, one big problem
is where to cut the first one from a slab in order to get as many
from that slab as you can, with as little waste as you can. This is
not always obvious, especially with hexagons! After thinking about
increasingly baroque technical solutions to this problem, I finally
got it simplified to its essence. "Ahem! Drumroll please!" You
don't make one template; you make a whole set of them at once.

Take a piece of newsprint and a hexagon with the right
point-to-point "diameter" for what you're doing. (It is not that
easy to find something with the right 60 degree angle for making the
model -- look for a floor tile that you can trace the angle from.
And measure your model until you get it right -- all of the
distances between opposite points have to be equal.) Got that?

Now place the model on the paper and make red dots at each corner.
Move it along so the template shares an edge with the existing dots
and make more dots. Do that until the whole piece of paper is
"tiled" with the dots. Not real need to fill in the lines for the
edges but if it makes you feel good, by all means go ahead!. Make
at least as many tiles lengthwise and crosswise as would overhang
your longest or widest slab. This gives you leeway.

Now, you can place the piece of paper on top of a fresh slab and see
where the dots fall relative to the edges of the slab. Move the
paper around until you have found the optimal orientation. Now poke
through the holes with a pin tool and cut out your tiles.

(I use transparent tape over the little dots on both sides of the
paper. This way the template lasts quite a while because the dots
don't tear from repeated use. Also, it gives a little hard spot for
pressing onto the slab in order to check that all the tiles you
think are going to fit are actually going to come out of that
particular slab. Then you can reposition the paper onto the dots.)

I hope there are others out there similarly obsessed with minimizing
scrap (if it isn't waste, it doesn't need recycling) who can use
this particular idea. I remain hopeful that there is perhaps a
better way out there. Although I've been pretty satisfied with
this. The main advantage over using a single plain tile template is
that you minimize waste because you can see at one glance how many
tiles you are going to get out of a particular slab AND where to
place the first one in order to get the rest.

Cheers,
Jan Walker
Cambridge MA USA
jwalker@world.std.com