Thursday, April 7, 2011

Zen and the Art of Cutting Corners

Be aware of the tile
Feel the tile
Cut the tile

In total, I'll be putting about 30 of the little accent tiles on the walls. Each piece is surrounded by 4 tiles that need their corners lopped off, about 120 tiles to cut.


I've created a jig that cuts each tile in about the same place. But I was bothered because the wet saw can create a jagged edge on the tile. So I tried taping the tile first. Then I discovered that the secret is to move the tile slowly through the saw--the tape wasn't really helpful.

Slowly. The saw motor makes a gentle hum, and the cutting sound is almost musical, muffled by the water that the saw blade spins through.

And the tray of water under the saw is clay red, just bits of mud from some creek bank in Mexico and hand pressed into shape, just as Cheryl and I witnessed once on a trip to Zihuatanejo, somewhere out in the jungle where a man and his family (some really young kids who he swore also went to school) turned red clay into barrel roof tiles.

So yesterday, interrupted by countless phone calls, I was able to cut through 6 sets of tiles even though none of them got placed on the wall.

Unlike the actual tiling, which is dictated by the tick-tick-tick drying out of mortar in the bucket that keeps you from walking away for very long, tile cutting can be done slowly, one at a time, with no harm done by interruption or by a careful attention to detail.

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