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flooring

Practice, dry runs, and models

I don’t know how some bloggers do it – seriously; everyone can’t be an expert in everything. I admit most of the time to not even being an expert in the stuff that I do, but sometimes it seems as if people just pick up whatever and are giving lessons over the internet.

When I want to do something I have never done before, I tend to ruminate. A lot. And if it involves machinery, pointy things, and the possibility of losing body parts, I take a long time to get into action. It’s just how I roll here, which is generally why if I can do it, I take a workshop to get started.

Unfortunately, woodworking is not one of those things that I can take a workshop in locally. As a matter of fact, the closest woodworking classes are over 3 hours away. Whatever happened to all the wood shop classes in junior and senior high schools? I guess they all got taken over with computer technology classes. So, I end up fiddling around a lot before I get started, to think through stuff.

In the case of the ‘left over oak flooring table’, since I’m literally going into this blind, with little experience, no written up plan and just an idea, I decided to lay things out with popsicle sticks, to see if it even looked ok as a concept. So far, so good. At this point, I have determined a couple of things:

1) I don’t have enough wood to make the whole table. That is ok – once I figure out measurements (so far, the oak flooring part of the table top is going to be 16″x30″ and I know from other side tables in the house that it will be 24″ off the floor), I’ll figure out how much other wood I need. At the end, when I finish it, the table top will not match anything else and that is ok. I follow the ‘go big or go home’ philosophy – no way to make them match so I may as well make the difference into a design element.

2) I don’t think my original plan, to just attach all the pieces of flooring to one another with pocket screws, is going to work the way I thought it would. This flooring has a tongue on one side and a groove on the other and after a couple of tests, it looks as if I could definitely split the flooring. Now, the way you actually install wood flooring is that you put down a piece, tongue facing out, and using a pneumatic hammer, you put a special flooring nail through the tongue into a flat surface (these days, that is usually something like plywood). Then, you put the next piece of flooring in front of that, groove facing the tongue of the last piece, and using a mallet, you snug that right up with the tongue inside the groove and you nail that piece through it’s tongue, which is facing out. You are never nailing through the mail piece of flooring itself – just through the tongue, which is probably only about 15-20% as thick as the rest of the piece of flooring is. I’m playing around with the idea of using 1/2″ plywood as an under-surface for the flooring, but that is going to make the table top very…very heavy.

3) I have a couple of choices in terms of what sort of wood to use for the legs and the trim around the table top. One of them is NOT pine, which is a very very soft wood. I’m leaning toward maple at the moment, but I could be convinced otherwise.

Like I said, this is not a project that I can, with the best of intentions, knock out. When I read other people’s blogs where they show some amazing coffee table complete with drawers and say, “My husband and I knocked this out in a couple of hours,” I have no idea how they are doing this, seriously. At this rate, this little table will take me until Christmas.

Left-overs

Hah – I’ll bet you thought I was talking about left-overs in the fridge, right? Well, we’re talking about left-overs from when someone does a new hard wood floor.

In this case, the DH and your Aunt Toby, a long (long!) time ago, when we put an addition on the house here at Chez Sibera, put in oak floors in the dining room and in the new upstairs bedroom. Now, looking back, I’m not sure I would have put this in the dining room because at the time, due to the layout of the house, we were doing such things as carrying five gallon buckets of hot water out of the house to take up to the barn for the sheep and goats. And the route took us… right through the dining room, which meant that sooner than later, water got spilled, flooring got stained and eventually we ended up having to have the floors refinished (but we had also ripped up all the rugs in the house so this made sense).

But, as usual, I digress and this is not a post entitled, “Ten Reasons Not To Put In Hard Wood Floors”. This is about the left-overs, which we have kept in a big plastic garbage can in the back basement of Chez Siberia. And a good thing it was, too, because when we ripped up the rugs, we found that the flooring at the bottom of the stairs had a couple of pieces that needed to be replaced. And they were the same wood and there we were with random bits that the contractor could go through and choose pieces that he could sand down and stain to match the original flooring. Frankly at this point, no one would be able to tell which pieces of flooring were original and which ones were the replacements. So, if you ever plan to put in hard wood floors in a room in your home (especially if you have an older home which probably already has hard wood floors elsewhere in the house), remember this: You will definitely end up with odd lengths of flooring left over at the after end. Put them someplace like the attic or up in the joists in the basement and keep them safe because when you need them, you will have them and you won’t have to go to the lumbar yard or the ‘extremely large national chain home center which competes with your local lumber yard’ and have to buy an entire BOX of flooring (because my dear little wombats, this is how flooring comes – you cannot go in and say to the lumber man, “I’d like one piece of flooring, please.”), just so you have a couple of pieces of flooring to do repairs. By the same token, if you ever see an ad on Craigslist (or your local version thereof) offering free odd bits of hard wood flooring, or you know someone who is talking about doing hard wood flooring at their home, offer to take it off their hands, even if it costs a bit. Because buying a whole box of hard wood flooring, even at one of the liquidator centers is going to cost you a lot of money, especially when all you might need are a couple of pieces to do a repair. So, keep your eyes and ears out.

But again, this is not exactly the point of this post. This is actually an introductory post to another project. Our son, The Boy, has moved out of the house and has taken with him a lot of the odd bits of furniture that over the years we have accumulated here at Chez Siberia. This has left us in the front porch with no side table. No place to set down a book or a glass of iced tea, which is annoying. Now, considering that it is November and not exactly ‘sitting out in the front porch of an evening’ sort of weather, your Aunt Toby is not exactly in a sweat to remedy this situation immediately, but it does give me an opportunity to do something I have never done before: Build a table.

(Ah, the light dawns: the whole point of the post)

Now, we have a lot of odd lengths of flooring – the photo above is showing most of the largest we had in that plastic garbage can. And I lined them up and measured them; the shortest is 23.5 inches long, so no matter what, my table top is going to have a certain length limit. I’m also thinking about putting some 1×3 around the edges, ‘breadboard’ style, which would bring the length into the 25-26″ range. I’m also thinking seriously that because this is ‘front porch furniture’ (and I think readers will understand that this phrase describes a class of furniture which is usually characterized by being casual, rather beaten up, handed down, and many times has a finish which leaves a good deal to be desired), that this table will have ‘cross-buck’ legs (that is, legs in an ‘x’ configuration). For the moment, this is as far as I have gotten in the planning for this project. Any ideas or suggestions from more experienced folks would be much appreciated.

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