Slices are cut from the end of a Padouk board to slightly larger than the width of the bricks. Each slice is then thickness sanded to the exact width of a brick minus the mortar. Every other slice is then flipped end to end. This will change the look of bricks slightly.
The first layup was half the width of the wall so it is cut in half and then glued together to create a piece that is the width of the wall drawing plus one brick. The extra brick is to allow for off setting the rows... or "course" in bricklayer terms. I've never actually been a brick layer... but I have done my share of cement blocks!
The slices and veneers are glued and clamped. The aluminum is to assure that the layup stays perfectly straight. When gluing end grain it likes to curve!
The number of bricks I'll end up with is actually determined by the thickness of the blank.
After the glue sets the face is sanded flat. Now you can see how alternating the slices makes realistic looking bricks with color variations that don't line up.
Harvey Leach Custom Inlays and Guitars
The same methods are used to create the curved wall, however different size strips are used to vary the lengths as the wall curves.
Click images for close ups
Here the slices are in the correct order. If you look closely you can see that the brick size matches the drawing.
Thin white veneers are added between the slices to create the mortar. Also here a check is made to assure that all the thicknesses are adding up to the same width as the picture... it's really easy to have a slight error multiply after all the pieces are combined.
The same basic process repeats until all the bricks for all the walls are made. Some walls have added challenges because of the diminishing prospective, curves and smaller scale. The key is understanding that no matter what the size or the prospective, curves etc. the vertical lines in the bricks always remain at 90 degrees and evenly spaced with the exception of the curved walls where the size of the spacing changes as the bricks appear shorter as the wall curves away from the viewpoint. All of the effect of depth and prospective are created with the horizontal mortar lines. A much simpler method would have been to inlay the basic wall shapes out of a material that could then be engraved. To me the extra effort here to use wood and it's natural variations to create parts where each brick looks slightly different than the one next to it was well worth it. Just as a point of reference, this one section wall took about 3 days to create... and it was in many ways the least time consuming one! It should then come as no shock why this project took almost 4 years to complete.
Building a Great Wall
Now the trick will be to create the look of off set bricks. First, using the drawing as a guide the line at the top of the fort is extended so I can see it once I set the glued up block on top.
Next the side to the block is aligned with the vertical edge of the front wall. The straight edge is set to follow the horizontal line I just drew and a line is scribed onto the block.
The block is then cut and sanded to to line giving me the correct angle to slice the courses of bricks.
First a single cut to square the block is made, then Using the thin rip jig, slices are cut a little thicker then needed. The 2 reasons being 1: the saw isn't really accurate enough to dial in the final thickness and 2: the slices would be too thin and fragile to survive the saw blade.
The cutting yielded a dozen slices. These are a nominal .90 thick
The slices are secured to a piece of MDF and thickness sanded to final thickness, Measuring the drawing with calipers I know each row of bricks is about .052 but that includes the mortar. The veneer I'll be using for the mortar is .009 so the slices are sanded to .043.
Next each slice gets a layer of veneer glued to it. I do these individually rather that all at once like the first lay up because I don't want to have to worry about dealing with the veneer while I'm off setting the courses of brick.
Finally, the courses of bricks are glued together, carefully off setting alternate rows by 1/2 a brick. The guide blocks help maintain the correct location of the end of the odd numbered rows, the paper pattern underneath is used to set the even numbered rows to the correct location.
The block is sanded and then sliced into 3 pieces, The three slices are glued together using CA glue this time.
The CA mixes with the dust of the Padouk creating sort of a stain which some of the white veneer absorbs more that others darkening it and adding contrast to the look of old mortar.
The bricks are sanded to final thickness and cut to the shape of the front wall of the fort.
Copyright 2013. Harvey Leach Inlays. All Rights Reserved.