Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hand Laid Floors Add Beauty to a Room

These photos illustrate two floors I hand laid for my latest dollhouse. For the floor on the left, I used my table saw to cut three different kinds of wood into small pieces. I used stops on the table top so that each piece would be exactly the same length.

I then took a piece of acid free drawing paper and drew out a grid pattern on it. The lines helped me keep everything in alignment. I dabbed some Weldbond Glue on the bottom of each piece of wood and when I set it down on the paper, I slid it around in a circle in the general area where it would go to even out the glue underneath the piece of wood. Then I pushed it into place and held it momentarily until the glue began to set. I found that I got a more precise pattern if I pushed fairly hard to hold the piece in place. If any extra glue emerged around the sides onto the paper, I immediately scraped it off with a wooden toothpick. If it oozed out from between the pieces of wood, I used a damp tissue to wipe away the excess.

By the way, if you know someone who is diabetic and uses syringes, I've found they are terrific for applying glue - especially if the needles are cut down in length. (If you have small children anywhere around, though, I don't recommend this method.) You can remove the plunger, squeeze a modest amount of glue into the syringe and reinsert the plunger. Don't plan on reusing the syringe. I normally can't reload and do multiple loads of glue in a syringe. The syringe allowed me to squeeze much more precise amounts of glue onto each piece of flooring so that I had far less excess glue to clean up.

Although I had to pay some attention to what I was doing, the process was one that I could do while watching TV. It took me about a week to complete each of these floors. Once they were all glued up, I then took my orbital sander and smoothed them down using some of the finer grades of paper. I finished them using clear stain to bring out the natural colors of the wood, and then I coated them with several coats of Deft varnish. I rubbed the varnish out with some 0000 steel wool and then coated the floors with wood wax. I then buffed down the waxed floor.

By the way, before I began each flooring project, I made a precise model of the room that I intended to floor. I trimmed about 1/16" of wood away from each edge, since I knew I would be adding wooden wainscoting and trim with miniature quarter-round, which would hide all edges of the floor. By cutting it a little shy of full width, it was easier to set the floor down into the room. You can use glue to hold the floor in place or if you think you might have to someday remove the floor to fix some wiring, you can always use double-sided carpet tape to hold it in place. I recommend gluing it down, though; especially if you live in a humid climate.

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