Sosa Hardwood Flooring – Making My Pine Floors Beautiful, Finally

A few times I referenced “drywall deja vu” with my first painter. What made it easier for me to pull the plug was learning from the mistake I made by allowing Roland Hardwood to continue restoring my hardwood floors when I had clear signs that the end result would not be right. I was under the gun. I had a buyer for my house that wanted a three week close. Once I got Roland confirmed from their projected start and finish date I would have approximately a week before I would be moving in. Delivery of my kitchen cabinets and appliances were set assuming the floors would be complete. After sanding the kitchen floors it was obvious the original flooring needed to be replaced, it was too far gone. Roland had five days slated for my project and they were unwilling to extend their time to do what was needed to do to make the floors right. I’ve only lived in my house two years and yet my first floor pine floors look like I’ve lived here two decades.

Sosa LogoThanks to old pine flooring given to me by a Camp Board Member, Lacey, I finally decided to make the floors right, With the outside transforming so beautifully, I could no longer stand the sight of my kitchen floors. While I thought about tackling this myself, I knew this was not a skill set in my wheelhouse so I called Sosa Hardwood Flooring, a company referred to me by a son of a longtime friend. He said he’d stake his life on the quality of their work. That was a good enough reference for me.

Sergio Sosa is so busy that it took three weeks to get on his calendar. When he came to give me a quote I showed him the wood and all my equipment, table and miter saw, router and router table. I said he was free to use all of it, which would save him from hauling his own. To prepare I had to move everything out of the guest room, office and kitchen that was movable, so stove, dish washer, and frig.  I had to remove all the shoe moulding. I also hung plastic to block off dining room from kitchen and zipper doors leading to my master and living room to minimize the dust that would be created.

Sergio and his crew man, Martin, took two days to rip out the rotten floor and replace it with Lacey’s boards. Her boards were wider than mine, so he not only had to rip them down to the right width, but router in a new groove. They also had to shore up under the kitchen counters. As a suspected, which is why this fix should have been done before the counters were set, they landed just shy of a supporting floor joist. Cutting the flooring flush to the cabinet would mean they weren’t supported. Fortunately I had plenty of 2×4 scrapes for him to work with.

The grain of Lacey’s boards weren’t as tight as my original, but I knew instantly that once sanded I would finally have the kitchen floors I expected. Wednesday they did all the sanding and filling where needed. In the office it was discovered that one area replaced by Roland Flooring was done without hitting the joist. Sergio had to go in the basement and shore it up otherwise the entire board could snap if something heavy hit at that location. Roland had also encouraged me to stain the pine floors. The oak floors in the dining and living rooms had to be stained as the new oak that they installed would never match the original. I decided to stain both sides the same. Once the stain was applied to the pine I knew I had made the wrong decision. That was corrected by Sergio’s sanding.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings they applied the protective poly coating. Roland only applied two coats because they considered the stain the first coat. I got to enjoy a nice staycation at the brand new Lytle Park Hotel, a $35 million re-development of the former Anna Louise Inn, since I lost access to my master suite and 1st floor bathroom. What a gorgeous property. It is now my new favorite hotel in downtown Cincinnati.

I can’t get over how great my floors are now. This is what I had envisioned when I made the decision to let these pine floors be my flooring versus covering or replacing. All the shoe moulding has been returned and I’ve even installed the moulding on the kitchen back wall and pantry, which I had left off intentionally until I got this mistake corrected.

Handcrafted, Heirloom Quality Box by Conjure Craft Woodworkers

Several months ago I started working on a headboard project at the Manufactory and one of the members, Kendall Glover, owner of Conjure Craft Woodworkers, was lending his expertise. In my post You Can’t Replicate It, So Save It, I talked about the beauty that comes from old wood. In restoring my 1924 Cape Cod style house I threw away NOTHING. I repurposed wood shelves for my headboard project and Kendall took a piece of scrap wood I had thrown away and created this beautiful design.

Thin slices of 100 year old pine shelf from my house

Little did I know Kendall would turn that scrap into this beautiful, heirloom quality box and give it to me as a gift. The other wood for the box was scrap from 100+ year old pine floor joist that was given to me. Kendall made a garden bench from some of it.

Kendall recently had a flood in his basement following a heavy Cincinnati rain where he lost almost everything; family treasures, photos, and some of his wood working tools. Insurance will allow him to recoup replaceable items and he’s going to focus on replacing tools that will allow him focus on creating more of these beautiful boxes for sale. Every box will be unique as the milling/finishing process will be done with hand tools, planers, files, etc. If you’d like to purchase a box you can contact him at 773-358-8000.

My box is #4. He’s entering the first three in a juried art show. Last year Kendall created bird houses and entered them in the 2019 Art of Soul juried art show held at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, OH. He won 1st place in his category. The houses represent the evolution of his family. Slave shack of his ancestors, to suburban ranch of his childhood, to Chicago townhome where he lived before returning to Cincinnati to care for his now deceased mother.

I am super motivated to finish my headboard, so stay tuned for the next post to see the finished project.

My Vision, But Not My Hands Alone

The romantic notion of building my own dining room table from walnut slabs harvested from my back yard did not become a complete reality. I got the project started (see post: The Real Work Started This Weekend and Covid-19 Is Rocking Everyone’s World), but after hosting another dinner on a folding table I decided to let an experienced shop finish it utilizing my new found stimulus check money. I’ll have to save the romance for my office desk and the mulberry slabs also cut from a tree that was in my backyard. Hopefully I learned enough to pull it off.

So the biggest thing I learned, if I’m ever presented with an opportunity to have slabs cut for me again is to leave them over 2″ thick. Randy Wipert, the gentleman I gave all the walnut logs to in exchange for cutting and drying enough for me to make my table, asked me how thick I wanted them. I really didn’t have a clue, so I told him my finished thickness of an inch. He cut my boards under 2″ thick as a result. With the mistakes I made and the natural warping/twisting of the boards, the shop that finished my table ended up milling my boards down to a finished thickness of just under an inch. My mulberry slabs are also under 2″, so it will be interesting to see if I can pull off that project.

Clearly Randy kept the boards with less knots and less sap (the white areas are the sap wood, the wood closer to the bark of the tree) or since he had more wood to work with he was able to eliminate his sap wood. The shop that finished my table told me that two of my boards were too twisted/warped to use, so if I wanted a minimum of 36″ in width, I’d have to keep the sap. In the beginning of the project I did not want any sap. I really didn’t know what it was and I had never seen a mass produced table with it. You don’t know what you don’t know. Everyone at the Manufactory that saw my boards said I was crazy to eliminate the sap. I guess I better grow to love it since it’s staying. I was able to provide input on board placement before they were glued. I will have just two strips of white.

I was at a friend’s house and the woman next door was being evicted and these vintage cast iron table legs were sitting in her driveway. She was a professed flea market flipper. I offered to buy them, but she gave them to me. This was over a year before I bought my house. When I saw them I immediately thought what an awesome table I could make with them (I was equally fixated on HGTV/DIY’s Fixer Upper and Flea Market Flip at that time). I had a vision before THE vision for my house. With the cast iron wall sconces in my dining room and the gunmetal chairs I bought, I knew I’d want to get the rust removed and returned to the silver color of new cast iron. A & B Deburring Co. in downtown Cincinnati sandblasted them clean for me. The shop finishing the top sprayed them with a sealant that should prevent them from rusting again.

When I dropped off the legs I was able to see my table glued up for the first time. They had just put on the first finishing coat. I must admit I was taken aback when I saw it. I’m still grappling with the sap wood since it was not in the vision I had for the table. The thinness of it and the curved shaped (I fashioned the shape of it after the dining room table I grew up with, which was a mid-century modern design) gives it a refinement, but the knots and sap makes it look rustic. My house isn’t rustic. The movement in the wood is not like anything I’ve ever seen, so one side of my brain thinks it’s super cool. This was growing in my back yard. Those knots are signs the tree was sprouting new limbs to grow and thrive. Those knots can be my symbol to embrace the new career choices Covid-19 is forcing me to make if I expect to continue to grow and thrive. The other side is still stuck on the image of mass produced products. It makes me wonder if an experienced wood craftsman would have ever considered my boards for a table and if the foolish romance of making my own table clouded good judgement. It wouldn’t be the first time “the romance of” has made me make poor decisions.

I thought the corners were too sharp, so I did request that they be rounded a bit more. Due to the final thickness they will have to attach a skirt/apron underneath my table to provide structural strength and support. Just three days later my changes were made and the table completed.

My friends Kyle and Bethany helped me pick it up and bring it home and my neighbors Paul and his visiting father helped us carry it in the house. Not 100% by my hands, but it is as seen in my mind’s eye (well almost given the sap wood). I’m grinning ear to ear. Another vision complete.

All I Needed Was The Right Jig

A jig‘s primary purpose is to provide repeatability, accuracy, and interchangeability in the manufacturing of products. It is a tool used to control the location and/or motion of parts or other tools.  My father set up jigs throughout the restoration.  We had a jig to cut insulation, I jig for all the wall and outlet switch heights.  Having the right jig will make a task easier and faster to complete.

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My vision for the top box of my headboard was a waterfall affect, the top corners joined at 45 degree angles.  Kendall helped me accomplish the cuts, but he didn’t clearly explain the ramifications of that decision.  Given the weight of the wood and the end grain glue up that would be needed, he felt some type of additional anchor support would be needed to hold the two sides together.  Glue alone he felt would not be enough.  What he didn’t provide was the clear cut method on how that would be done.

If he had explained in advance the difficulty of the waterfall I could have altered my vision and allowed the corner to overlap at 90 degrees and used my Kreg jig to create pocket holes that could have been plugged.  I reached out to the Kreg company about this dilemma and they confirmed that their product could not be used.  The angle produced by their jig would be too shallow of an angle not leaving enough wood for the threads of the screws to grab.   I had to figure something out or start this portion of the project over.  I have enough oak to create a new top and the original top could be cut to make the new sides at the lengths that would allow for anchoring at 90 degrees.  Covid-19 isolation gives you time to think, so I pulled another MacGyver and developed my own jig.

First step was finding the angle that would allow the screw to enter the thickest part of the angle.  That was accomplished with my angle tool.  I transferred the angle to my miter saw and cut the block of wood that was my outlet jig.  I thought about buying the Kreg micro drill bit, but for practice purpose used my existing 3/8″ Kreg bit.  I drilled a small pilot hole, just deep enough for the tip of the Kreg bit to fit in.  I took the depth collar off the Kreg bit and laid it flat against the angled side of the piece of wood I cut and carefully drilled a hole through the block of wood.  The end result was a “jig” drilled to the angle I needed.  From there it was trial and error as to where to place the block on the board being drilled and where to set the collar on the Kreg bit so that only the tip broke through the top piece of wood.  I realized quickly I needed to clamp my jig in place, so I flattened out the top on my miter saw.  Once I got a combination that worked I took a piece of 3/8″ oak dowel rod and practiced plugging the hole. That worked like a charm.  The large Kreg bit also worked fine, so I decided to forgo buying the micro bit.

Now it was time to go live.  Kendall felt that I only needed screws in the front because the insert for the back of the box would support the back angle.  However now that I’m working solo I’m not building the box in the same order we did the dry run.  The insert will be the last piece I install as I will do it as part of the final assembly in my bedroom.  I need to keep the pieces as light as possible if I have any hope of carrying them upstairs by myself. For that reason I drilled four evenly dispersed holes on each side.  Everything was working as practiced until I got to the last hole and the collar on the Kreg bit loosened and I drilled completely through the board, which meant there wouldn’t be a shelf for screw head to rest on.  Not to be deterred I moved my jig over a bit, re-tightened the collar and drilled another hole.

Now I was ready to glue and screw the angles together.  When I was trying to find an example on how to attach mitered corners I stumbled across a video from the Woodworkers Guild of America that showed how to make strong mitered corners by using a process called sizing.  I followed the video precisely, diluting my Titebond III glue 50/50 with water.  I brushed it on, let it dry 2-3 minutes as instructed.

Once dried enough I applied the full strength glue and inserted my biscuits, which were there just to help with alignment.  Months ago I had bought Bessey angle clamps.  I used one to hold the top corner together and then proceeded to put in the screws working my way up from the bottom.  I used 3/4″ Kreg screws for hardwood.  I was going to call it a day, let that side dry before tackling the opposite end, but it went so well that I did the other side immediately.

Once I had let it set a bit, I smeared glue in the holes, put more at the end of the piece of dowell and inserted them in each hole.  I came back about an hour later and cut off the excess.

At that point I should have called it a day and let the glue up set over night, but I was on a roll and the bright light at the end of this project tunnel was starting to creep in so I decided to insert the bottom shelf.  During the dry run, Kendall had me connect the bottom to the sides first, followed by the back, and then the top.  It went in easily, so easily I forgot to snap a pic.  I was going to let it go for the day, but at about 10 pm I returned to the basement and proceeded to sand and stain it.  I am elated with how this is turning out.  Having the box completed made me realize that I like the look of the polycrylic bottom shelf better than the sides and underside of the top that I treated with Danish oil, so I’ll now apply the polycrylic to the entire piece.  I’m being optimistic that I can actually have the piece finished by the end of the weekend.

Covid-19 Is Rocking Everyone’s World

No, I have not been infected nor am I paranoid to the extent that I’m wearing mask in public.  However it did make me to remember to use my mask when I’m sanding, something I generally forget to do.  I haven’t made a post in awhile, so this will be an update on the two projects I’ve been working on, my dining room table and headboard.

Filling the holes/cracks in my walnut boards of my dining room table is my new skill set.  The first step was taping the underside anywhere epoxy to could seep through. 

20200301_141537I used TotalBoat 5:1 Epoxy Resin, Slow Hardener.  This was a very easy product to use.  I bought the quart size that came with metered pumps.  One pump of resin dispensed the five parts to the one pump of hardener, 1 part.  Mix for at least two minutes and then you have about 20 minutes to work with it.  I was amazed how much epoxy went into small cracks or holes.  I made three trips to the Manufactory before all the holes were filled.  I definitely will have some clean up to do as I applied too much in some areas.  I’ll do better on my next project.  

The only other thing I accomplished on the table was rejoining a set of the boards I split when I first started this project.  The center of the table will be the board I bought from Urban Edge Wood Works, but I wanted a wide board to rest on each side of it.  Only one of my boards was left uncut, so I needed to rejoin at least one. I chose the one on the left.

No pics of the glue up process, but it didn’t come out very well.  The board is barely over an inch thick and I’ll have to plane it more as the seam didn’t line up through the entire length.  I’m hoping I won’t lose the board altogether as my target width of 38″ is dependent upon using it. The joined board has the tape measure next to it in the picture on the left. Shown there is approximately 50″ in width of boards.  I don’t want sap (white of boards) in the center of the table, so once that is cut away I have about 42″ in width.  The picture on the right were the worst of all my boards and still in their original state.  Hopefully they will make the skirt for the table.

The Governor of Ohio has locked down the state, so today was the last day until further notice to work at the Manufactory.  Just as well as it relates to the table as according to Kendall I’ve taken it as far as I can with him and the Manufactory’s equipment.  I’ve brought my boards home where they will stay in my living room until Covid-19 has passed, I find a shop to complete it myself or pay someone to do it.

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Most of the headboard project has been in my basement waiting for me to do the staining, so with the dining room table on hiatus the headboard has my full focus.  My workbench was my first 100% solo build and it will be the perfect surface to assemble the top of the headboard.  The Manufactory let me borrow their biscuit joiner, the only piece of equipment I didn’t have at home, but needed to complete the project.

With my slots made I turned to sanding the inside of all the pieces, so I could finally tackle the stain, hence the mask.  I applied the same custom stain I used on the side shelves.  The color looks perfect against my beadboard section.

I’ve decided to apply polycrylic to the bottom of the top shelf since it will be a surface that items will set on it, three coats.

The rest of the oak pieces will have Danish oil.  I’ll let it rest overnight and the tomorrow I’ll tackle building the box, which brings me closer to the finish line of this project.

No Sweets for this Sweetheart

I didn’t come close to finishing my headboard, so I thought I’d share the progress reached by the end of the Valentine’s Day Weekend.  I got the side boxes stained and coated.  I had planned to use Zar Early American stain, as I did on the upstairs moulding, but 20200208_192240Sherwin Williams no longer carries it.  After trying Minwax’s Early American and General Finish Mahagony, neither were even close on the Aspen wood, I returned to Sherwin Williams to have them match the color of the doors I’ve converted to pull out tables.  They are now selling Minwax Performance Series Tintable Stain.

Per the can’s directions I sanded my surfaces with 120 grit sandpaper and applied one coat of stain, which I let sit for about 10 minutes per the clerks recommendation to get a darker finish.  I let it dry overnight and then applied three coats of Minwax Polycrylic.  I really like the ease of use for this product.  I sanded, lightly by hand, between each coat with 220 grit paper.

After one coat of poly:

After two coats of poly:

After the final coat of poly and letting them sit overnight, I returned with my parts to the Manufactory to put them back together:

With the side boxes finished it was time to tackle the oak top shelve.  I started by taking the pieces for the side to the WoodShop to use their joiner and biscuit cutter.  I brought the pieces back home to glue and clamp.  This was my first glue up and it was spot on!  Several guys at the Manufactory complimented me as the seam of the two pieces is barely noticeable.

Now it was time to tackle the top and bottom.  This headboard is going to be heavy.  The oak wood is dense and in hindsight I should have detoured from the original plans sooner and used 1/2″ plywood instead of 3/4″.  I can bet the designer didn’t think someone would use old wood, which weighs much more than the modern 2×4.  Anyway, to try and reduce a smidgen of the weight the bottom shelve is only 12″ deep.  Once the back piece is in place I’ll have a 10″ deep shelve, perfect for my bible.  The top has to be the same width as the sides, so it’s 17″ deep.  To reach the depth I needed I had to join two slabs together.  My boards weren’t the same thickness, so I had to run them through a planer.

The bottom, per Kendall’s suggestion I routed out a 1/2 groove, because I wanted the sides to cover the top of the side boxes.

I had my mind fixed on a mitered seam at the top and that posed a challenge because my top and sides were too wide for the miter saw.  After setting the back in place, I was able to mark my lines to locate the miter cut and use the table saw to cut the miter in the side panels.  I used my Kreg jig kit to make pocket holes for attaching the back to the bottom, sides, and top

The top was too long for the table saw, so my only option was a circular saw.  I should have called it a day and returned with my own circular saw, which has a much nicer blade, but with Kendall’s help I carried on and got the cuts made.  I’ll need to do a little sanding to smooth out the edges.  I made the first cut, but let Kendall make the second as there was only about an inch of waste.  I beat myself up too much when I fail and I wanted to end the Valentin’e weekend on a high note.  Kendall went for gold and cut right on the line to make it one and done.

The challenge now is how to screw the mitered edges together.  Glue may not be enough to hold the seams perfectly aligned.  In retrospect I should have routed out a groove like I did on the bottom.  A normal beginner woodworker would have taken that easier road.  But like Nicole Curtis from Rehab Addict says, I’m not normal.

 

 

 

You Can’t Replicate It, So Save It

My featured image is the undeniable proof as to why you salvage old wood.  The top piece is a side view of a piece I cut from a shelf that was in the original upstairs closet; I’m using it for the headboard shelves.  Look at how tight those rings are.  The tree that produced that was probably 75+ years old.  That’s quality slow growth pine.  Conversely the piece at the bottom is a modern pine 2 x 6 that was probably injected with steroids to speed its growth and cut before hitting the legal age of 21.  Kendall took another piece of scrap from my shelve and used a bookend cut it to create this awesome cool pattern.  He’s making heirloom quality wood boxes and can incorporate it into the lid.  More proof for salvaging old lumber.  Look at the natural chevron pattern the rings created.

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I turned my focus onto my headboard this week.  I think having the table and headboard completed by Valentine’s Day is a pipe dream given I can’t work on it full-time. The table alone would be ambitious.  The headboard, given the back is already complete is doable, so I started building the boxes this week with Kendall’s assistance at the Manufactory.  Boxes are simple and in my mind I had all the steps laid out, but Kendall had me slow my roll, which was a good thing.  He’s a numbers to paper guy, I’m a image in my mind gal.  Images waste wood and that is something I can’t afford to do when it comes to the reclaimed wood I’m using on this project.  It can’t be replicated if I run out or mess it up.

Headboard Sketch

Scotti from the Wood Shop gave me the idea to add the side boxes when I told him how I wanted to modify the design I had purchased from Jen Woodhouse.  I don’t like a lot of furniture, so I wanted to add a shelf above the headboard.  Since that shelf would push the bed from the wall, creating dead space, he suggested filling it with side shelves also.  Here is a sketch he did to help me visualize what he was talking about.  Love it, but it meant buying more wood.

I could have purchased birch plywood sheet for the shelve boxes, but I didn’t have a way to haul a full sheet.  Instead I went to Menards and bought, pre-cut Aspen boards in 4′ and 6′ lengths and 12″ and 16″ widths to reduce cuts.  Slightly more expensive, but time savings was worth it.  I took the four pine floor joist I had been given to the Manufactory to get them planed down because I decided I wanted my headboard to be primarily reclaimed wood.  If you remember from my post “From Toilet Surround to Headboard” I had bought oak boards for this project.  The look of the pine aligned with the vision I had for the project, unlike the oak.  I wish my blog had smellavision, so you could enjoy the aroma of pine I smelled as we ran the boards through the planer.

At the end of  that same post I made this statement “So what to do.  Use the oak I purchased or create a fully salvaged headboard and use the pine.  You’ll have to keep checking my blog to see how this project is going to end.  Anyone want to lay bets?”  Betting window is now closed.  It’s going to be the Paxton oak.  Those pine boards are too beautiful to waste on my headboard.  They are true 2x12s and I would need to plane almost half the board to get it to the width I need.  It would break my heart to waste such beauty, so they will sit until I think of another project for them.

Kendall worked with me to build the first box and left me on my own accord to build the second.  I tweaked Scotti’s idea a bit further by adding a pull-out shelf at a height equivalent to a night stand.  There was half of a dutch door that separated the kitchen from the hall in my house when I bought it.  I held onto not knowing what it could be used for.  Now I know, the pull out shelves.  The boxes are just screwed together, my dry run, to make sure everything functions.  I’ll take them home, take them apart, and stain them.  I’m feeling like the headboard will be complete by next weekend.