Frederick M. Hueston, PhD

Yes, folks — fall is in the air, and I can smell the decaying leaves as I walk out the door, headed to my favorite greasy spoon. You know the place, but I don’t think I ever named the diner. My followers know Flo and also know the Admiral, but all the years I have been telling my stories I have never told you the name of my favorite dive diner. Well, I’m finally going to reveal it, since the name of this diner is a clue to the inspection I was about to perform. The diner’s name? Frank’s Corner Angle Diner. 

Now, I have never mentioned Frank since I have never met him, nor had I ever heard why the diner was named after Frank. It is located on a corner, which makes sense for that part of the name. But who the heck is Frank? 

I walked in from the crisp air and took my seat next to the Ole Admiral. Flo poured me a cup of jo and gave me that flirty smile. As she was pouring, I said, “Flo, who the heck is Frank?” She laughed and told me the following story:

Frank was a math professor teaching at one of the local high schools. He would often take his students to this corner and teach them how to use a compass, and how to calculate angles in real life. He lost his job teaching and decided to open a diner right here on this corner, and hence the name “Frank’s Corner Angle Diner.” She stopped and started to walk away and I said, “But where’s Frank?” 

“Oh, Frank died a number of years ago,” Flo smiled and said. “His son took over the diner, and is rarely here. I pretty much run the place,” she said in a frustrated tone. Well, now you know the name of my favorite diner– but how does this fit into my latest inspection?  

Flo had just served my usual breakfast plate –ham and eggs – and, of course, my phone rang. The voice on the other end had a heavy accent. He sounded Indian, but could have been from anywhere, for all I knew. He was complaining about his porcelain floor tile. He said there were cracks all over it, but only in areas where there was a heating register, and around corners. He pleaded for me to come out and take a look to see what was causing these cracks. I told him I could be there that afternoon. I finished my breakfast, and said goodbye to Flo and the Admiral.

I arrived at the house and was greeted by a short gentleman dressed in a traditional Indian Kurta. He bowed and asked me to follow him. I didn’t even have a chance to introduce myself. I guess he somehow knew who I was. Maybe it was the fedora and trench coat?

There’s good reason to drill a radius corner to begin a cut in porcelain tile. This is what can happen when you don’t.

There’s good reason to drill a radius corner to begin a cut in porcelain tile. This is what can happen when you don’t.

He led me into the house and onto a large format porcelain tile floor. These tiles were huge! I took out my tape measure and they were four feet by three feet. I started walking the floor and noted that everywhere there was a heating register, there was a crack radiating from an inside corner of the cutout. I bent down and lifted one of the registers and right away knew what the problem was. 

I walked over to the homeowner and told him that these cracks were caused by cutting the tile with a sharp right inside corner. He looked at me kind of puzzled and I started to explain why you should never cut a inside right angle corner. Before I could finish, he started arguing with me. I stopped him and said, “Never argue about a right angle… it’s always right!” It took him a moment to figure out the joke, but it broke the tension and we both laughed. I told him the following:

“When you cut a piece of glass, you first score it, meaning you scratch it along where you want it to crack. This is a stress point in the crystal structure that is weaker than the rest, so a crack tends to run along it.

“Likewise, if you cut a square inside corner in a stone or tile slab, you have created a concentrated stress point where a crack is more likely to start. By making instead a gentle inside curve, you are distributing the stress in that area across the curve, instead of concentrating it into a point. This in effect strengthens the corner. That’s why you see all these cracks. These cutouts are square cuts.”

I also told him, “And that’s also why portholes in a ship are round and not square, and why airplane windows are not square.”

He asked me to write it up in a report. I told him I would be glad to. I also told him to remember that three angles don’t make one right (LOL)! Another case solved.

The Stone Detective is a fictional character created by Dr. Frederick M. Hueston, PhD, written to entertain and educate. Dr. Fred has written over 33 books on stone and tile installations, fabrication and restoration and also serves as an expert for many legal cases across the world. Fred has also been writing for the
Slippery Rock Gazette for over 20 years. 

Send your comments to