Monday, April 7, 2014

Calculating the amount of flooring you need

 How much flooring do you need to do your wide plank flooring job? To be honest, I use cad and put in the layout...then calculate the area automatically, then add 20 percent.

Since you likely don't have access to that, lets give you the simple way. Calculate each room individually. You only need a square foot count, so say your room is 11'-7 x 12'-5. Round up to the nearest number, say 12 x 13, then add 20 percent. Do a sketch of it, so you can show Merv what the job looks like. He will make sure he mills enough material for you to finish.

Do a sketch for each room and allow a 1x6 or 1x8 for thresholds, then add it all up.

I always add 20% to the totals so that I can cut a good few inches off each end before putting the flooring down, and I get to be picky. Some people like the big gnarly irregular knots and cracks and curly grains, and others want only the clean grain. Merv likes the irregular grains, I like clean and only small knots. Everyone has different tastes!

 The ends of the boards often are slightly irregular. Planer snipe (the ends of the boards are often planed smaller than in the middle), and sometimes the end of the board is slightly narrower than the middle. Cut off 6-8" and the flooring should go down tight. When you cut off the ends, use the fence on the main part of the board so that it is a perfectly square cut.

Remember, when you install the floor you need to allow 3/4" for expansion and contraction around the outside of the room. Thresholds (separation pieces under the doorways), don't need the space.

The floor above is one of Merv's pine floors with a dark stain on it. It was micro-grooved so that they could prefinish the flooring before putting it in place.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Making Kiln Dried Slabs of Wood

I dropped by the shop the other day to find Chris and a helper working 2 huge slabs of walnut through the planer. If you have never seen this nutty mahogany colored species, or smelled its acrid semi-sweet aroma during milling, it will stop you in your tracks. You won't experience it without dropping into Merv's shop near Collingwood Ontario on just the right day.

They routinely prepare these slabs for a local furniture company to make tables. The process involves much more than just slicing up great logs and planing it smooth. Your slab will twist, crack and check and won't be useful as a table unless it is expertly prepared.

Slabs always have to be dried for them to become stable. It can take months to properly dry hardwood in thick sizes, and Merv is picky. He wants the moisture content down to 6%. He attests that is the only way to make a stable piece of lumber that won't crack or twist. 

 So these slabs have been in the kiln for about 6 weeks, and now they are making them smooth again. Surface inconsistencies become more pronounced during the drying process, some twist, others distort and some parts shrink during drying. Depending on the grain cracks develop--which most people like the look of. If you want to avoid cracks you need to use quarter sawn material, which means you have to start with a very large log.

When the bark is left on the lumber we refer to it as "Live Edge". This option is popular for furniture people. Many use these for mantles and counter tops for a home with lots of wood. If you need this kind of thing, get in touch with Merv. Please give him 2 or 3 months of lead time. Good things take time. He can supply just about any species of lumber. Pine or other softwoods dry faster--but are less durable.