Prairie Style Mosaics #2: Cut, Glue, Assemble, Repeat

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Blog entry by EarlS posted 05-27-2018 02:49 PM 1334 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: First Things First Part 2 of Prairie Style Mosaics series no next part

Most of the previous entry talked about the process mechanics (cutting, gluing, and clamping). This is a picture of the essential tools for this part of the project:

The initial blocks start out with only a few strips of wood with spacers between them and they look pretty rough. However, as the blocks are completed and glued to other blocks, the design starts to come together.

Initial strips of bocote and bubinga with walnut spacers.

Stacking them together and adding the katalox strip (notice that the ends aren’t clean cut but the walnut spacers extend past the ends – they don’t have to be perfect):

Initially, the design was for this section to run vertically but cutting the pieces on a diagonal changed the grain of the piece and looked better overall. This is another reason not to cut too many pieces before checking the fit and look of the first set.

Throughout the process of cutting, gluing and assembling the mosaic there were several changes that were significantly deviations from the initial scale drawing. It meant that I had to check dimensions on nearly every piece but using the idea of making smaller blocks that could be trimmed to fit made the process less time consuming and also helped with the fit. Keeping things square and tight also made it easier to fit the changes consistently.

It is a slow, tedious process. As you can see, it takes a lot of space on the work bench.

Working from the bottom and one side also helped keep things square. Rather than glue everything together, I made panels of the components between the wider vertical strips and the diagonal transition. They were large enough to move around easily without disturbing all of the small pieces. Since there were still pieces that hadn’t been finalized I didn’t want to make the panels too big in case something needed to be changed. It also made the process of fitting the other pieces easier.

Once the trial pieces looked good and fit well, all of the copies were completed. Make sure to count the number of similar panels (and pieces) and keep track of how many you need and how many you have. Part way through cutting and gluing the diagonal pieces I realized I was only making enough panels for 1 mosaic and I needed two. Fortunately, I had cut some extra strips and was able to catch up on the second panel.

Making the component panels takes some forethought and planning. You don’t want to wind up having to cut and glue little pieces. It is messy, the pieces don’t fit well, and it is also very time consuming. Here’s an example. I precut the width of the paduak and katalox pieces for the top of the mosaic. Then, I had to cut small walnut spacers to go between them.

After cutting two of these I decided to use a wider piece of paduak, glue the walnut spacer and katalox to it, then rip the pieces to width after the glue dried.

Here is an example of the pieces for the upper diagonal panel.

The blocks were glued diagonally to another glued up strip of katalox and walnut spacers..

However I didn’t leave enough extra length on the spacer. When I slid them into place, there were holes at the point where everything came together. So I had to cut the katalox strip off and start over.

From there, the top and bottom diagonal sections were glued together to make a complete vertical panel.

Those panels were glued together with the other panels that make up one of the 3 major panels for each mosaic:

Before gluing, the panels were very slightly trimmed to provide a straight side for a better glue-up. The ends were also squared up and the excess portions were removed.

After gluing:

The wenge was trimmed and the glue was sanded off. Here’s is the final result, after a couple of coats of Arm-R-Seal waiting for the rest of the box to be completed:

Hopefully, I remembered everything. Post questions, comments, ideas, or suggestions.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

5 comments so far

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

7703 posts in 1702 days

#1 posted 05-27-2018 03:03 PM

Lots of patience and even more bench space are key requirements, it seems. Thanks for walking us through the process!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View torus's profile


538 posts in 1533 days

#2 posted 05-27-2018 03:42 PM

Earl, thank you. It is very informative and educational.

And yes, huge respect for the patience!

-- "It's getting better..." - put this on my RIP stone!

View htl's profile


5469 posts in 2279 days

#3 posted 05-27-2018 09:08 PM

Now that some beautiful work and love seeing how you got er done! WOW!!!

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View JimYoung's profile


409 posts in 2707 days

#4 posted 05-28-2018 11:43 AM

Nice to see the process and how it all comes together. Thanks for sharing.

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

View Timmy2Hands's profile


201 posts in 2084 days

#5 posted 05-28-2018 12:08 PM

This work is awe inspiring. Thanks for sharing the process.

-- Tim McCoy - @Timmy2Hands on Instagram

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