Saturday, April 12, 2008

Plunging In To Flooring

I’m still waiting for router bits to make the baseboards so I started in on the flooring. This is really the way to go anyway. Getting the floor finished and then attaching the baseboard is much better than the other way around. This way I don’t have to worry about banging up the baseboards. I sometimes get impatient towards the end of a project and nothing shows progress like trim work.

This will be the first time I will attempt to refinish the old redwood floors. If they come out half as nice as Joel’s I’ll be happy. I started to go this way with the upstairs bathroom, but in the end I chickened out and painted them. Before I start any sanding though, I needed to replace a few boards.

At some point a pair of 6-foot high walls were added to the back of the butler’s pantry. The room is about 10-feet wide and these two walls came out from either side, about 3-feet in to the room to create a little entryway which opened to the back of the room. This series of rooms – dining room, butler’s pantry, and scullery – were Mrs. Petch’s apartment around 1915, when she used the house as a boarding house, and then became a studio apartment in the 1920s.

I know the walls were not original to the butler’s pantry because the finish floor extended under them. In all cases, when the walls were put up, they built the walls on top of the subfloor and then ran the finish floor to the walls. Since the finish floor extended under these walls, then they were a later addition.

The walls were removed at least as early as 1970 when the floors were covered with underlayment and fake wood 12X12 inch plastic tiles. Very attractive. When they removed them they didn’t do it too carefully. Since the walls were toe-nailed in to the finish floor, they left some nasty divots that needed to be dealt with. I needed to replace 3 boards.

I have some 1X6 T&G redwood flooring salvaged from the kitchen, but it is in really rough shape. I need to also make some repairs in the dining room, so the laundry room is a good place to test this. First, of course, I needed to get the old flooring out. Here’s how I do it.

I line up the long part of a framing square with a seam between two boards. I then use a plunge router with a straight bit to cut the flooring, by guiding the router along the front end of the framing square. This way I get a perfect 90 degree cut in the wood. The plunge router depth is set to 7/8-inch so I only cut the finish floor and not subfloor.

Here it is with the dado cut by the router. You can see the divot to the left of the cut. The next step is to take a sawsall and make two cuts in the center of the piece I want to remove. I pull out the center section first, and the remove the two sides, being very careful not to damage the tongue or the groove on the boards that will stay.

And there its out. One side was nailed through the tongue so I chiseled away at it until I exposed the nails. Once the nails are exposed I can pull them out with a prybar. Because the router bit is round, I clean up the ends of the cut with a sharp chisel.

After that I cut a new piece for the opening. I remove the bottom half of the groove on the board so I can get it in the hole. I then fit the tongue in the opposite grove and fit it in to place. I few finishing nails through pre-drilled holes, and no ones the wiser. With any luck that will look seamless once the floor is sanded down and refinished. If its not seamless, well, I can always go another route. As I said, this is a test run for the dining room.

Here are the other two I replaced. Tomorrow I sand and oil and then maybe start some type of top coat Monday or Tuesday. I was going to sand today, but I get to do my taxes today. Yea! I think maybe I’ll let Angry Pete do my taxes this year.

Gad Damned, Sons of Bitches. Those bastards won’t stop until they’ve bled me dry!


Tiffany said...

The patches look great. Refinishing them is actually not too difficult with the right equipment, so I'm sure they'll look fantastic.
I want to see Joel's floors, but I don't think the link is working... :(

Greg said...

Oops! I had the wrong link. I fixed it now. The pictures of Joel's floors are at the bottom of the page.

Derek said...

Looks like a good technique. Is it difficult to hold the square in place? I have going to use a forstner bit in the drill, and chisel, your method looks cleaner though. I'll be doing the floor, where we moved the duct, there'll be a piano covering the boards, I still want it to look good though.

Greg said...

I stand on the two ends of the square while I work the router. It can be tricky if you are up against a wall, like I was with the last piece. I had to cut that one twice because the square moved a hair when my weight shifted. It was just a fraction of an inch so I just had to straighten it out.

With a second person to stand on the square it would be a piece of cake.

Jennifer said...

Good technique! Can't wait to see the finished product. said...

Very nice and thanks for the how-to. Ive wondered how this was done and I'll be doing it all soon enough in my old house.