It’s a good thing my kitchen is capacious. In addition to the usual kitchen accoutrements and furniture, at the moment, it also contains a church pew (it usually resides in the front hall), a large cedar chest (which serves as my coffee table), a television and related electronics, a very heavy antique sideboard, a couch (off to the right side of the picture), the top of an old corner cupboard, two small bookshelves and the top of my dining room table (which, no doubt in violation of fire codes, blocks the back door). I’ve been eating out a lot.
The reason for this nightmare of a mess? When I bought my 1895 house seven years ago, I swore the first change I’d make was to remove the execrable kelly-green carpet in the living room and cheap, thoroughly worn parquet in the hall and dining room. I finally got around to it.
As I mentioned in my last entry on this little project, I had a fair amount of patching to do before the floors could be sanded and finished.
As you can see in the picture at right, a former owner had cut a hole in the floor, dropped in some scrap wood, and left the ends of the floorboards unsupported (you can see the joists through the large gaps). There were several areas where similar “fixes” had been done, so I had to pull out the scrap wood and cut back to the joists to “tooth in” matching floorboards of alternating lengths. I borrowed Editor Chris Schwarz’s Fein MultiMaster and went through several “E-Cut” blades as I made plunge cuts in the damaged boards at the middle of alternating joists. Then, using a cat’s paw, I carefully removed the cut pieces. (The removal process was a great deal easier in the small hallway between the living room and kitchen. That entire area was severely water damaged, so everything had to come up , no need to be gentle.)
The living room floors are a mix of 3-1/4″ and 4-1/4″ boards. I was able to scavenge 3-1/4″ boards from a large closet on my third floor, but I didn’t have any 4-1/4″ boards. I cut all the necessary 3-1/4″ pieces to the correct lengths, and stacked them against the wall as I searched for 4-1/4″ boards.
I also had a number of knotholes to fill in, so Senior Editor Glen Huey taught me how to pattern rout, and kindly lent me his router inlay kit. It seemed fairly simple – you cut a pattern out of 1/4″ ply just a bit larger than the area to patch. You secure the pattern around the hole, and with the collar and bushing attached to the router, use a 1/8″ spiral upcut bit to cut what’s basically a lip around the outside of the hole. Then, secure the pattern to your patch material, and with the bushing removed, rout out a matching plug, and use your table saw to slice off the plug. Smear glue around the lip of the hole and the back of the patch, and tap it in place.
Turns out, it’s far easier on the workbench than on a dusty, splintery uneven floor. In situ, I had to secure the pattern with my feet (no tape would hold; my 120 pounds was, however, quite sufficient) and use the router while bending at the waist directly over it. Then, I had to do a little handwork with a chisel, as many of the holes were near the wall, and the router wouldn’t reach. And who knew , 100-year-old pine smells vaguely like cat urine when you push it too slowly through the table saw blade.
I was done with all the inlay work and removal of damaged boards on Feb. 5. My “new” floorboards were scheduled to be delivered on Feb. 6. So I put plywood over massive holes, and waited. And fretted. And waited. You see, I’d found what I was told was 100-year-old salvaged white pine floorboards at an outfit in South Carolina. They shipped it to me via DHL (the shipping cost as much as the 60bf of floorboards), and DHL misplaced the shipment in Atlanta. Luckily, they found it again, but it didn’t arrive until Feb. 8, and I was on a tight deadline. Al Lovell Hardwood Floors was coming early on Feb. 12 to sand, stain and finish. (Yeah, yeah , what can I say? I hate sanding.)
I got about eight hours of sleep the entire weekend, but I got the replacement boards in place. As the entire floor is rather gappy, it wasn’t particularly delicate or tight work. There were only a few boards from which I had to cut off the bottom of the groove side in order to lever the pieces in place. I used an 18-gauge nail gun to secure the “new” boards to the joist through the tongues and grooves, though I did have to face nail in a few places to keep them from creaking.
The cats and I moved to a neighbor’s house for a week while Al and his crew took over. I had a bit of a scare when Al told me they were having trouble getting some old glue off the hallway floor, and I might want to think about installing tile there. But, they came back the next day well-stocked with #20-grit, and , thankfully , were able to sand through the gunk. Then, they sealed, stained (Minwax cherry) and put down several coats of polyurethane.
J.J., Cleo and I are back home now, and while the oil finish is still a bit redolent, I’m very happy with how the floors look , even with the gaps and a few pieces of yellow pine mixed in. And the cats are pleased to be reunited with their toys. Now, I just have to run 100 feet of baseboard….