Needing wood of a certain size
June 28, 2012 3:26 PM   Subscribe

I am fixing the flooring in our kitchen and pulled out some pieces of white oak. They are 5/8" x 2 1/4" tongue-and-groove. The pieces have stamped underneath: "MO. HDW. FLG. CO. BIRCH TREE. MO.N.O.F.M.A."

I have a few questions:

1. Assuming this flooring is from Missouri Hardwoods, are there shops which sell this brand? (I've also tried contacting them directly.)

2. Failing that, are there any flooring vendors that sell white oak at those dimensions (5/8" x 2 1/4")?

3. Or, were the original pieces thicker (say, 3/4") and an eighth-inch was sanded down? (I don't know much about flooring, but that seems like a lot to sand off, and the pieces I have are laterally symmetrical and evenly flat.)

Every hardwood vendor I search online (Lumber Liquidators, Home Depot, local flooring shops, etc.) offers 3/4"-thick pieces, not 5/8". I don't mind paying shipping on one box of slats, if that's what it takes to finish the job. Thanks for any advice.
posted by Blazecock Pileon to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: As an alternate, if you can not find what you want in the right thickness, but otherwise it is ok call up any milling company in the area and ask if they can mill it down to the correct thickness.
posted by edgeways at 3:51 PM on June 28, 2012

You know how a 2x4 isn't really 2 inches by 4 inches? 3/4 flooring (nominal 3/4) is actually 5/8.
posted by at at 4:01 PM on June 28, 2012

Response by poster: 3/4 flooring (nominal 3/4) is actually 5/8.

Is this true? All the hardwood samples I picked up were 3/4" thick, not 5/8", and did not line up with the pieces I have from our floor. If the sample dimensions match the material, then I'd be left with a 1/8" lip around the patched area, which I'd like to avoid.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:12 PM on June 28, 2012

Our house has 2¼" by 5/8" T&G white oak flooring, the guy who refinished our flooring had me get the repair pieces off-the-rack at a local lumber place. They don't sell to people without accounts, so I had to use his account, but it's a stock item (Sonoma County, north of San Francisco).

And as edgeways suggests, if you really can't find it, any local milling company, or even moderately equipped woodworker if the quantities are low enough, can make it for ya.
posted by straw at 4:24 PM on June 28, 2012

Best answer: 2 1/4 by 3/4 is the most common starting size of hardwood flooring. It's possible that yours was 5/8 to begin with, but it probably wasn't. Your guess that it started out as 3/4" and has been sanded a couple of times is a good one.

With flooring meant to be sanded and finished after installation, the brand hardly matters, because it's all just lumber milled to standard dimensions. Concentrate on finding the same species, and look for boards with annual rings similar in thickness and orientation to the old flooring.
posted by jon1270 at 5:26 PM on June 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Missouri Hardwoods isn't terribly far from my in-laws, so I could pick you some up, but Jon1270 is absolutely right - the white oak Missouri Hardwoods is milling today might look nothing like the wood you're trying to match while some other company is cutting the perfect wood for you.

What you probably want is to find someone with a planer. I made some 3/8 hickory into some 1/4 hickory earlier today with one of these - it takes multiple passes taking off about 1/32 of wood each. If you want to have a character building experience, you can achieve the same results with a Stanley #5 plane*.

Bonus Tip: When you're planing things down, you're probably going to want to take wood off of both sides so that the faces and the tongue and the groove of your new pieces match your old pieces. If all the missing wood came off the face, that's one thing, but if you're new tongue and groove don't line up with your old, that's going to cause some annoyance.

Other Bonus Tip: Grain orientation is important. If you're having this done for you they should know this. If you're using a friend's machine, you'll want to understand planer tearout.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:12 PM on June 28, 2012

Response by poster: Yes, part of this is an attempt to avoid trying to find someone with an industrial shop planer. Trying to avoid back and forths between shops, as well as risking taking too much off on the wrong side and not having tongue fit into groove at the right point, etc.

It sounds like a lot has been sanded off the floor, which strikes me as odd given how much. 1/8" doesn't seem like a lot of thickness on a ruler, but that really seems like a lot of wood to sand off. Particularly given how uniformly level the floor sits.

Thanks for all your advice.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:21 PM on June 28, 2012

It sounds like a lot has been sanded off the floor, which strikes me as odd given how much. 1/8" doesn't seem like a lot of thickness on a ruler, but that really seems like a lot of wood to sand off. Particularly given how uniformly level the floor sits.

If you are refinishing this floor you might find yourself at the helm of an industrial floor sander: a belt sander with belts about 1 foot wide. You can get 15 grit paper for these beasts and they feel like if you didn't keep moving they would sand right through the floor: 1/8 in is nothing. On the other hand, you should measure the distance from the top of the boards to the tongue. if that distance is an 1/8 or less, you may have trouble refinishing.

btw, the way to tell whether they have been sanded down or started at 5/8 is to look at the difference between the distances from the top and the bottom of the boards to the edge of the groove. these distances should be approximately the same if they have only been lightly sanded.
posted by at 6:45 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Belt sanders like mentions can take off an eighth inch in a hurry. I would post this to Craigslist gigs- I bet you would shortly get an answer from someone who has a planer in their garage and would like to make a few quick bucks
posted by rockindata at 7:53 PM on June 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

When you're planing things down, you're probably going to want to take wood off of both sides...

...unless the reason your floorboards are 5/8" thick is that they've been sanded several times the top side.
posted by bricoleur at 8:24 PM on June 28, 2012

"on the top side," I meant to say.
posted by bricoleur at 8:25 PM on June 28, 2012

I have a rotary industrial floor polisher, and the sanding discs available for that would take off 1/8" in short order as well, if required. Also, if this is older flooring there has probably been some shrinkage. You really should get good measurements of the existing tongues and grooves before committing to replacement timbers.

Once the repair is done, I strongly recommend you consider a tung oil finish before going for the no-brainer urethane option. We did our whole house with Organoil ten years ago, and it's holding up beautifully.

The main advantages of oil over urethane are:

1. You can simply apply a little more oil over any worn section and burnish it in, and it will look good; patch a urethane finish and it ends up looking patched.

2. Oil doesn't glue your floorboards together anywhere near as rigidly as does urethane, meaning that movement due to humidity changes and/or house settling won't cause your floor to split and crack.

3. It smells a whole lot less unpleasant, which could be extra important in a kitchen.

The Organoil folks don't sell their flooring oil direct any more, but as far as I know it was nothing more complicated than a premix of tung oil and citrus solvent as described here. I used the industrial floor polisher with a scouring pad to burnish the oil rather than rags wielded by hand but apart from that the method was the same.
posted by flabdablet at 8:25 PM on June 28, 2012

You know, you could go on Angie's List, get a flooring guy/gal with good reviews from homeowners of vintage homes and get them in to have a look. They've probably seen everything and might also give you some advice and, hey, maybe the cost of having them help you repair is worth it once you factor in all the legwork you are gonna have to do.
posted by amanda at 8:38 PM on June 28, 2012

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