We took a lunch break, sandwiches in the side yard, a hillside siesta in the sun. Then back at it. Eventually we came to the areas that would require tricky measuring and cutting - the tub spout and valves. My first cut wasn't the prettiest, but it was going to work. The tile cuts for the three shower valves came out quite nicely though. My "trick" to notching the tiles with the wet saw was to cut the two edges of the notch first, then make a series of 1/4" cuts to depth, which then broke off with the friction of the blade. I'm sure this is no trick, rather it's the way to do it - but when you figure it out for yourself it feels like a trick! We cleared that obstacle field and were on our way up the final wall.
It was about this time that I removed the cardboard insert from the clear plastic box of hollow leave-in tile spacers. I was going to use it to scoop up the stray scraps of hollow leave-in tile spacers on and around the tub because we were running low on hollow leave-in tile spacers and needed to improvise. Standing around awaiting my turn to move in and measure, I browsed the product details of these hollow leave-in tile spacers on the underside of the insert. Says here that the 1/16" hollow leave-in tile spacers are NOT hollow and should NOT be left in.
Our hollow leave-in tile spacers were pushed down to the substrate, as directed, three of 'em per tile, which is like, what, a bazillion tile spacers? All cemented, and not budging. Oh well. We're leaving them in.
It was getting late. Afraid to see what time it was. Gone was the idea of getting home early enough to relax a bit and prepare for the week. We pulled the plywood off the top of the tub to reveal the final three rows: the bottom row of each wall.
The long wall went smoothly because the tub and walls were in perfect position there (walls ending 1/8" off the tub, tub flange sitting 1/8" behind the surface of the wall). But the two ends were tricky because the tub was 1/8" or so off with the wall so the bottoms of the bottom row of tiles were being pushed out a bit by the tub flange. It was worst in the corners, but by that point in the process, my wet saw skills were getting smooth enough to eye up and grind curved notches in the tile, which took care of that. Every tile in the far end of the tub on the bottom row needed to have an eighth inch cut off it's length. Don't ask me why. Besides, you and us are the only ones who will ever notice!
We didn't look at the clock until we got into the van, I think. Bodies covered in dried thinset, my hands wrinkly with milky wet saw water and ceramic dust. It was late. 12:30? At least. In total, we put in 24 hours tiling over two days.
But it looks great!