Thursday, August 5, 2010

Make a WHAT?? inlay for a hardwood floor??????  "You got it!"

One of the wonderful things about my job is the daily problem solving.  I love figuring things out!  Sometimes to a fault.  I have a pile of "stuff" that was once operable, and is now in a box in countless pieces just waiting for me to figure out how to reassemble them.  A fun challenge on things around the shop or house, not so much for a paying job.

This challenge came from a wonderful general contractor I work with.  They were working on a floor that needed a new inlay to match several existing ones elsewhere in the home.  I got a snap shot with a cell phone and a basic drawing with measurements.  It took me a couple days to ponder the best approach of how to make 200 identical pieces in order to fit together.  But after some Google action, I came up with a jig that turned out perfect pieces.

The full story and lots of pics after the jump....

I made the sled to ride in the slots on the table saw, and put a fence at 45 degrees.  A bit of trial and error to get it PERFECT.  If you do a bit of math......... .1 degrees off on this angle, multiplied times 200, equals a REALLY crappy mess.  Taking the time to get this right is VERY important.   A stop block to the right of the blade, and bada bing!  200 little triangles.

Now comes the glue up.  There are 5 rows of 10 squares.  Each row is separated by a .75" spacer.  I made another jig for glue up.  (Actually I made 3, so I could keep rolling along without to many delays while the glue dried) 

Now comes the hard part.  Getting all of the strips into one big ol' slab of floor.  There is one answer to this dilemma.  Clamps.  Lots of clamps! 

Here is where I discovered a bit of an obstacle.  The 5 rows of squares were all different lengths.  Granted they were all within about 1/16 or so, but still.... they were different.  So to minimize any unsightly gaps, I squared the hole thing from the center out.  I can trim the ends evenly once the glue has set.  I also have clamps holding the block down to the piece below as well to keep it flat.  I should note the glue I used for all you serious wood geeks.  Titebond 3.  Two reasons.  1.  Water runs downhill, and this is a floor.  If water settles anywhere on this thing, I don't want the glue to pop loose.  2.  The color of the glue.  The floor has a dark red/brown stain that is going onto it, and the TB3 is much darker and blends in better with stains.  That's a personal thing, but it works for me. Take it or leave it.

When it was all said and done, it turned out very well.  I squared it up, trimmed the ends and added the mitered frame around the edge.  I did spend some time scraping glue, and hit it with the belt sander.  Before it gets installed, it will get run though a dual head wide belt sander to make it look even better and flatten it further.

I hope to get a picture of it fully finished and installed down the road, but I'm just the shop guy on this one.  I may never actually see it installed.  I'll cross my fingers though.  :)

See anything that I missed?  Hit me up with questions or suggestions!



  1. Can you post a picture of the finished floor?

  2. I'll do my best! Thanks for the request.

    I didn't do the finishing or installation, but I will post it when I get in.