11 December, 2013

Journeyman Carpenter

My sister and brother-in-law bought a condo in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington D. C. The red oak flooring was nailed directly to the floor joists. No sub-floor. Needless to say, the floor was bouncy and squeaky. I want to re-use most of the oak flooring, after laying down a layer of 3/4 inch plywood sub-floor. I am a journeyman carpenter, and can deal with laying the sub floor, and nailing the old flooring. What I want to to know: What is the best way to remove the 51 years of old dirt and shellac from the tongue and groove edges of the old flooring boards, which I think have been sanded and re-finished at least three times since 1962. I want the reclaimed flooring to fit tight. I have tried to chip away at it with a 5-in-1 tool, and it barely makes a dent in the dirt and shellac on the tongues and grooves of the old flooring. I was so glad to find this — I once used a product called 1850 wood stripper. ( I think that is the name) it was a clear liquid. I stripped a lot of wood trim and a country kitchen cabinet with great results. This stripper softens old paint and old shellac and varnish and makes it soluable. I used 000 steel wool for the finish cleaning dipped in this stuff. Lay the boards on saw horse where drips may be cleaned up or won't matter. Brush on the stripper and let sit, wipe off after the required time. Do this again and again until it is mostly clean then do a final clean with the steel wool. It takes TIME but it sounds like these boards are worth it. I bet it looks nice when installed and refinished.

Our students liked what they heard from a St. Louis youthbuild graduate and now journeyman carpenter (for 4 years)


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1 Comment

  1. Tiger Jeffs December 10, 2013 at 12:12 am #
    My first thought is to use a wood router with the right bit. using a long pc of wood as guide set the bit so it just barely touches the surfaces you want to clean off without removing any wood , just the trash build up. . With your wood working skills ,this should be easy to do. once you figure out how to set up the guide for each surface , you should be able to zip along all the board edges rather quikly. Or do the same thing using a Dado blade on your table saw.