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Solid hardwood floors following the natural curve of the wood

 
pollinator
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We have been thinking about the kind of flooring to install in our home, and are very attracted to (no tongue and groove)  wood flooring (not the engineered kind), because of its durability and the easier access to the source material if you have a sawmill nearby, eventhough it is, from what I understand, perhaps a bit more difficult to install properly.
We don’t have experience with laying floors yet, but are eager to learn.
I recently stumbled upon a picture of a wood floor where they maintained the natural curve of the planks.

Not only do I think it looks beautiful, the company selling these floors also claim that this type of floor creates less discarded wood.
Now I don’t think we would be able to afford buying our floors from this company. But we have a sawmill less then 5 minutes away from our house that has loads of these planks with the natural curve still there. So I’m trying to figure out if it would be doable to recreate this kind of flooring ourselves, without the tongue and groove, just the solid wood  (that have dried and accustomed to the humidity of the room) cut so that their shape fits into one another like pieces of the puzzel, sanded down and nailed into place.

I would love to hear people who have experience with hardwood flooring, and what their thoughts would be about something like this. Do you foresee any issues? How would you go about installing something like this? Do you know any relevant tutorials I could watch/read?

 
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Hi S;    Absolutely beautiful floor in your photo!
I have only limited experience installing hardwood floors, but growing up back east most homes had them.
Without having tongue & groove, I think you may encounter "lifting" of the boards. Creating trip points or toe stubbing spots.
And any water spilled would be able to get under the floor before it could be wiped up.
I also wonder how you attach them without exposed nail heads ? (The website may have said I didn't read it)
I remember Dad and uncles replacing  sections of flooring that had gotten wet and warped. I also remember when the whole floor needed sanding and refinishing (OMG)  BIG job!

A few years back I covered over the original flooring in our cabin.  I used solid hickory wood with a 25 year guaranty pre-finish on it!   We love it!
I purchased an air powered floor nailer for the job and then was able to sell it afterwards for almost what I paid for it!  Using T&G pre-finished hardwood made the job practically fun! And being pre-finished it was looking good from the first board onward.

I suspect that if you could afford to buy your flooring from that company you would be very happy with the results... also much poorer than you may currently be.
Trying to duplicate that style on your own might be a huge undertaking!
I will be thrilled to see photo's if you guys decide to attempt this!

Stay safe and as sane as you can during your forced stay at home!
 
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So I’m trying to figure out if it would be doable to recreate this kind of flooring ourselves, without the tongue and groove, just the solid wood  (that have dried and accustomed to the humidity of the room) cut so that their shape fits into one another like pieces of the puzzel, sanded down and nailed into place.

 

As an experiment, try to make a few small wooden puzzle pieces (from different pieces of wood) and see if you can get them to fit perfectly together.

I have a feeling that that would not be easy at all.

I have some woodworking experience but it's not extensive, and, from my limited experience, I can tell you that it seems that flooring company is doing something really unique and difficult.  They might use computer mapping and lasers for all I know.  I could be wrong.
 
pollinator
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Yep, that's beautiful.

And no, you can't do it.  Well maybe you can prove me wrong ...

T&G is structrually very useful, binding the edges together and hiding fasteners.  If you don't use T&G you either need to face nail/screw the boards down, or use some fancy hidden fasteners for decks... and many of the deck systems are designed to leave gaps in the boards so they wouldn't work.  So you're going to have exposed fasteners... which might be ok until some years along when the floor needs to be sanded down and those metal heads wreak havoc on the sanders, and possibly have the head sanded down enough that it doesn't hold anymore.  The floor you've pointed to is T&G.

Then ... how to fit those together?  Woodworking has spent a LONG time figuring out how to make perfect joints - perfectly flat and planar surfaces that fit together without gaps.  These tools all create long, flat surfaces.  And then any piece from the pile should match up with any other piece from the pile.  But this... wow.  First, each piece matches one and only one other piece.  That means each piece is super custom.  It also means that a rotary bit (e.g. a very precisely controlled router) is creating those edges - which means a machine.  A really expensive machine.  I shudder at the work and time it would take to even attempt this with a woodworking router.

Finally, the sawmill planks you see at the mill are probably the outer cuts from a log, an inevitable byproduct of taking what is essential a cone and cutting it into a rectangle.  The sawmill makes these cuts because the good wood is inside the log... and these outer bits are kinda crappy - they are thin, frequently have non-structural bark attached, and because they take the outmost rings of the log will tend to have the worst warping of any cuts of wood.  The Bolefloor product is using full slabs of smaller trees, not outer cuts.  Now, if I'm wrong about your mill having out cuts and instead has the simple slabs (from when the tree is sliced up ... sort of like a loaf of bread), well those are tremendously better pieces of wood to work with ... but they still haven't been dried, have very rough surfaces, etc.

I hate to throw water on a good idea - this is beautiful, efficient, etc.  But I can't see a home-made version of it working as a floor.  As a table top? as a bench? as an outdoor deck? as a coarse barn floor? Sure, those are all applications where this could be done but I think it would fall far, far short of acceptable as interior flooring.
 
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According to their website, that product is a tongue and groove.  Here's a series of guesses about how they do it:

To get wood that squirrely, I'm guessing they are taking the logs that no normal sawmill would ever want to deal with.  

I would imagine that they take each board and scan it.  They have 10,000 feet of wavy lines in their "library" and apply the closest fit to the edge of the board and saw it to match that profile.  Same for the other edge.  They do this enough and mark each board so they know where it goes (or could go) in the overall pattern.  Notice that many of those board segments are pretty short.  Then to do a floor they pull the boards from the warehouse that are needed to fit together to cover the space.

My hunch is that to do one floor they need to create 20 floors worth of flooring.  But to do two floors they may only need to create 30 floors worth.  And to do 100 floors probably only takes 110 floors worth of material.

To do this on your own would be very, very challenging.  If I had to do it, first I'd say it can't be done to get out of the job.  But if I was forced to do it, I'd get a bunch of live edge boards.  Then I'd lay them out in a huge space and try to get them to fit together somewhat closely.  Then I'd take the first pair of boards, overlap them as little as possible and clamp them together and cut a wavy line through both of them with a jig saw.  Then do the same with boards 2 and 3. And on till it's done.

Then I'd get a tongue and groove router bit that uses a bearing to guide it.  And route the tongue and grooves on the edges.  And install.  Piece of cake!
 
Eliot Mason
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Mike Haasl wrote: If I had to do it, first I'd say it can't be done to get out of the job.



Is that why I have such trouble finding contractors?  So true - this is just a pile of headaches.

As for jigsawing and then routing ... that works ok with no radius cuts.  Things get weird with a radius ... its one thing to cut a piece of a curve, but too much and suddenly they don't fit together... imagine cutting a half circle from a piece of plywood  Suddenly the inner piece doesn't fit the outer piece... imagine that problem along a length of a slab!

There are ways to simultaneously rout inner and outer edges - but I've only seen them used on thin and fairly flexible material (laminate).  Maybe a really thin kerf laser cutter - or water jet? - would do the trick.
 
Mike Haasl
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Good point about the curves.  If you were just butting the two boards together, the jigsaw kerf would be the only gap.  But once you route the tongue on one side and the groove on the other, they need to slide together 1/4" or so.  For the sharper bends and curves it could give you tight spots and looser spots.  But in general it might be a subtle detail.

The router bit wouldn't do both edges simultaneously, you use one for the tongue and a different one for the groove.  Here's the type I'm thinking could work:
 
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Those curves aren't natural. I'd be willing to bet its cut to fit a pattern. It looks nice though. I'm a Carpenter by trade, and I've installed quite a few floors. That being said, are you sure its not a laminate? I've seen some interesting laminate here lately.
 
Eliot Mason
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Ben, looking at the linked website its not a laminate.  They make a solid wood version and an "engineered" version.

I want to see the machine that makes those edges...
 
Ben House
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Eliot I'm not saying that there isn't curve in the trees that have been milled. I'm just saying they are cut to have a more even curve and probably so they will match up. Side note if you place two boards in a jig side-by-side and run a router between them you can get them to fit.
 
Eliot Mason
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Ben, sorry - we're miscommunicating!

I agree that there is probably a pattern in play.  Having a pattern, then allowing the computer to decide which puzzle piece a log should best be cut into makes a lot more sense than scanning a bunch of logs and then trying to figure out how to piece them together.  But its not a printed laminate layer.

As for the jig - yes, I'd forgotten that if you stack the two and have them overlap the same as the router bit diameter (? its been a long day...) then it works.  Still, that's a LOT of routing and since you'd be working on probably 3/4" slabs you'd need a 1.75" long bit.  Maybe my routing skills are poor, but that seems the opposite of fun & easy (and quiet. and clean).
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Is that why I have such trouble finding contractors?  So true - this is just a pile of headaches.  

 Makes me think it's more of an avalanche of headaches.  It's doable, maybe, but it would be a shit ton of work with routers and jigs, I could see myself maybe think of making a table this way (small project), but not a floor.  I'm bald enough.   I don't need another excuse to pull my hair out!  
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I'm thinking that a guy could use an idea like this to build counters or custom tables, and actually make it profitable because the scale is small and the product so unique looking, but flooring?  I don't think so  Not without bigger fancier tech.
 
S. Bard
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Thank you all for your numerous replies. I think it is fair to say that with my limited knowledge of woodworking, I shouldn't endeavor to replicate something like this.
Looking at how fancy the website looks and how unique their idea is, I'm also fairly sure that we would never be able to afford their product. So I suppose it's going to remain a nice dream and nothing more.

That being said, I'm glad many of you enjoyed seeing this, and some of you might even be inspired to create doors/ tabletops ... So I'm glad it serves at least some purpose :)

So If I step out of this wild idea, is there a way that I can still put in my own solid hardwood flooring using the material straight from the sawmill? The reason I'm asking is that in oktober 2018 a huge storm ripped through our region, knocking over entire forests. Here's a pic to give you an idea:

People have been working tirelessly to clean up all the fallen trees the past year, and still there are entire mountains worth of trees that haven't been cleaned up. Fortunately the trees fell during a falling moon, so the wood is good for timber. Because of this the local sawmills are overflowing with wood, and the price of wood has lowered significantly.
Now our house and roof are already built, so no point in me ordering lots of wood for that purpose. But we do still need floors, planks for our staircase (we have a metal frame onto which wooden planks are attached for the steps), planks to make benches in the living area. So I had been thinking how we could make use of this drop in the price of local wood.

Is there a simple way I could start with the raw, pre-matured straight planks and make a floor out of that? When I say simple, I mean in terms of the necessary technical knowledge and the necessary specialized tools, not in terms of amount of labour. I am willing to put hard work into this, if necessary. But I do not have the budget to buy large machinery.
I know T&G is how all modern floors work, but how did people in the early days make wooden flooring? Is nailing the boards down not an option at all? Or you can, but it just becomes a crappy floor?

Thanks for all your wisdom!
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I'd suggest screws over nails.  Most deck are done with wood screws.  They hold down boards better and do not come back up like nails do.  One thing that you could do, is put in a large (thick) baseboard around the exposed walls of your room.  When the boards shrink, unscrew the boards, lift the floor and shift it all to one side,, and refasten them eliminating the cracks, and then cut a narrow board to fit the space under your baseboard at the end wall.  
 
Mike Haasl
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I think in the old days they just took boards that were aged/cured/dried as much as possible and nailed them in place.  They'd then shrink and they would likely live with the gaps.

In your case, you could install them fresh/wet and screw them down like Roberto suggests.  I hadn't thought of moving them together but that's a cool idea.  As long as you move them in the summer so that they're snug then.  In the winter they'll shrink a bit more to give little gaps and in the summer they'll swell back up to close the gaps.  If you install them snug together in the winter, the floor could buckle when it tries to swell.

To take the raw boards and make them smooth, you just need a woodworking plane.  With a good sharp plane you can smooth down a board without too much labor.  More than some of us want to do but it sounds like it would be the perfect solution for your situation.  A plane can also smooth up the edges (likely a different plane that's smaller).

If you have time to wait, get the boards and smooth them down now. Then stack them to dry (often called "stickering" around here) for the summer.  They'll shrink a lot by next winter.
 
Eliot Mason
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S. Bard wrote:
Is there a simple way I could start with the raw, pre-matured straight planks and make a floor out of that? When I say simple, I mean in terms of the necessary technical knowledge and the necessary specialized tools, not in terms of amount of labour. I am willing to put hard work into this, if necessary. But I do not have the budget to buy large machinery.



So let's talk about wood for a moment... almost all cut lumber is dried, and some of it is even dried in a kiln.  Drying gets rid of moisture (lots of weight there!) and also "sets" the board into something of a final shape.  The internal structure of wood is complicated, and the drying process affects the internal areas differently.  So the sawmill can merrily cut a tree into remarkably flat slabs, but left to their own those slabs will cup, bow, twist and basically have their revenge upon you for cutting them down.  Heating the wood in a kiln can also create some other changes in the wood such as making it harder, and even carmelizing some of the sugars to change the color.  Generally the wood is cut to rough dimensions, stacked and dried.  Some very detail oriented folks will actually clamp the wet wood in place to force it to dry flat.

Thus the first step is drying.  How long you dry depends on the species and conditions - but it isn't unreasonably to passively dry lumber for one to two years.  Or put it in a kiln for day.  A wood moisture meter is how most folks decide when its dry enough (often at 12% ?).  Cabinet makers and floor installers worry about local moisture - the house is a different environment than the warehouse or lumber yard and so the wood is allowed a day or two to adjust to local conditions before further working or installation.

So now your wood is dry. But it has a rough surface and only roughly corresponds to some dimension (and has shrunk in the drying process).  Boards are now run through assorted machines to "surface" them - essentially putting flat, straight edges on and nice smooth surfaces, all with perfect perpendicular edges.  And yes t&g can be done at this time.  The t&g step is just one additional step ... flooring also differs from just surfaced boards in that the boards all have perfectly cut ends so they are ready for installation.  

Here are the challenges you face... you can dry the wood.  That requires some preparation and time, not much work.    You can edge (or "join" as woodworkers refer to that step") using a handplane and a good bench, or a decent tablesaw with an appropriate blade can give you a good edge - or even a good Festool style track saw would work.  Or you can buy a joiner (and a lot of them are made in Italy!).  Then you have to decide how important it is to have a flat floor.  Hand planes can certainly do the job given enough time, otherwise a planer is needed.  There are many portable and quite inexpensive powered planers (or in French, literally, "de-thicknesser").  Adding t&G is best done with something we call a shaper, but less expensive routers are capable as well.  

I'd say that at a minimum you'd need a good (not great) tablesaw or a very good track saw.  Those are darn handy general tools and good to have around anyway.  A portable planer would save a lot of time.  Adding t&g would be nice, but adds a LOT of time and additional equipment that you are less likely to use unless you decide to become a furniture maker!

Then its a question of expectations for the fit and finish!  IF you have a solid sub-floor (generally plywood or such) then air movement isn't an issue - cracks & gaps in the floor are largely cosmetic and its up to you.  A trend in the US is to have rough flooring, so you don't even need to have mirror-flat surfaces.  Face screws need to be done very carefully to look good (IMO) - they need to be in exact rows as wandering screw heads just look sloppy not interesting.  You can also countersink the screws and follow with a wood plug to completely hide the screw.

The appearance and fasteners give you a lot of possibilities.  I'm concerned about expansion of the wood.  With changes in humidity, boards expand and contract in their width, not length.  Many a wood worker has discovered the power of expansion - literally ripping tables apart, buckling floors, breaking screws, etc.  The edges of wood flooring are designed to deal with a touch of expansion - a benefit of t&g is that it create some give.  Placing plain edge boards may create more expansion risk - although I'd like to hear from others on this.  The size of the rooms, thickness of boards,  also matters - and as mentioned you need to leave a gap between the wall and the flooring.  I'm curious if creating a slight angle/bevel on the boards would mitigate the problems of expansion.

Finally - screws.  I think its import to pre-drill the flooring.  You create a larger hole than the screw, and then the screw head (not the shaft) is what holds the wood down.  The larger hole allows the board to expand and contract and not break the screw!

Oh I hope all that makes sense...  community please correct and clarify!
 
Roberto pokachinni
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The only clarifying that I would add would be from this quote

Finally - screws.  I think its import to pre-drill the flooring.  You create a larger hole than the screw, and then the screw head (not the shaft) is what holds the wood down.  The larger hole allows the board to expand and contract and not break the screw!  

 The head of the screw as well as the threads that are biting into your base material, are what hold the floor board down.  

This is true of any screwed wood.  The screw threads that are penetring  and touching the floor board do nothing to hold the floor board to the base material. (Thus it makes no difference in increasing the holding strength of the screw if the screw threads bite strongly into the wood to be fastened).  It is only the pressure of the head on the board's upper surface or counter-sunk surface and the threads biting in the base material that are responsible for holding the floor board down.  

Pre-drilling always made some sense to me, and it was proven time and again when I failed to do it. The boards crack.  But once I understood the simple fact of how screws hold things down, the idea of predrilling with a slightly larger hole really made more sense than ever.
 
Mike Haasl
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Plus predrilling allows the floor board to be sucked down tight to the sub floor.  If the screw is driven through the first board and into the second without predrilling, any gap between the boards that exists when the screw enters the second board is forever locked in place.
 
Eliot Mason
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Kudos to Mike & Roberto.

I guess my point for S. Bard to consider is that even if the T&G making step is skipped b/c you want to make it simple, screwing down the boards isn't as simple as grabbing a bunch of screws and a screw gun and saying "Yee Hah!"  Each board will need to be marked and pre-drilled every 16"-24".  Probably two screws at each spot ... so an 8' board will need something like 14 holes marked and drilled, and then 14 screws set.

Just to expand on the task and compare it to making T&G ... if I were doing this I'd want all the screws lined up.  So I'd have to use a straight edge to mark the line, and then mark an offset from the edge for each screw.  That's not hard work, but repeating 7 times per board is time consuming!  T&G, with hidden fasteners starts looking pretty good.
 
Mike Haasl
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And the tooling to make the tongue and groove (router and bearing guided bit set) is probably under $200 new.
 
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Mike Haasl wrote:I think in the old days they just took boards that were aged/cured/dried as much as possible and nailed them in place.  They'd then shrink and they would likely live with the gaps.



I have nothing to add to all the great woodworking information given in this and the next several posts, however...

I live in a 100+ year old apartment building.  I can tell that the floors were nailed, heads countersunk then puttied over.  And I have soooo many gaps, up to about .7 centimeter wide.

My first year I bought a special brush to get stuff that went between the gaps.  Since then I bought a better vacuum and then learned to drastically lower my hygienic expectations.

My upstairs neighbors filled the gaps with wood putty and refinished the floors.  After 100 years one shouldn't expect further shrinking, and it looks great.  But it was a huge and messy job.

Anecdata for your decision-making...
 
Eliot Mason
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Morfydd St. Clair wrote:
My first year I bought a special brush to get stuff that went between the gaps.  Since then I bought a better vacuum and then learned to drastically lower my hygienic expectations.



Thanks for sharing!  I feel like we've been a bit of a downer on the original idea, bu its relevant to remember WHY we care about these things!

I'm surprised that we didn't get a natural building expert to extol the benefits of rough timber flooring.  So I kinda went looking.  There are so many "flooring" ads flooding the area that its hard to do a direct search, but I found some posts.  Basically it comes down to
  • People with more time than sense
  • People with more time than $
  • Using a range of toxic ick to overcome floor shortcomings


  • Note - having more time than $ is not a criticism.  The unfortunate part of that path is that most examples I found of using rough timbers for flooring may not have saved much $, and they all seemed to rely on using putty - or even roofing sealant! - to fill the gaps and then pouring some thick coating over it all.  I was really hoping to learn that a mixture of sawdust and linseed oil would, in time, make a nice crack sealer and that the rough wood made it easier to a combination of beeswax and tung oil to bind.  Maybe I'll have to try that and see what happens!

    Anyway, I really hope that S. Bard might find a way to floor the house using wind blown timber.  We'd all love to hear about it and how wrong we are!
     
    S. Bard
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    Hi everyone, thanks again for the amazing information you are providing me!

    Eliot: , I really hope that S. Bard might find a way to floor the house using wind blown timber.  We'd all love to hear about it and how wrong we are!



    I have to say that I’m getting quite daunted by the whole idea! Might I have had more experience with woodworking, I might have taken up the challenge. But now it looks like my best bet is to go for affordable solid tongue and groove flooring. Sorry to disappoint! It’s probably already going to be a bit of a challenge putting that in by myself. I still want to find a way to use the wind blown timber, but maybe I’ll find other projects for that. Like the staircase, and maybe the shelving for our storage room. We’ll see!

     
    gardener
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    If you want to do the irregular edged slabs without worrying about the mismatch from routing tongues and grooves, you might try splines. They are essentially a floating tongue that fits into grooves in each board edge. For ease of assembly you would want a tapered profile for the spline, thin at the edges for easy entry and thick in the middle to match the grooves and hold the boards in alignment. Wavy edges could be fastened with shorter sections of spline. I have heard of using a contrasting color spline that would be a decorative touch when the slabs shrink in winter.

    For fastening, the advice on screws is the best I have heard; I have plans to use brass square drive screws for a decorative touch that doesn't scream "phillips head"... I would recess the screws slightly to allow for surfacing. The brass would be less damaging to sanders than steel.
     
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    Here is an idea for critique.

    Can a table saw be used to make the tongue and groove?
    In addition to making perpendicular edges.

    I would have to start with suitably dried wood, but not necessarily surfaced wood. The wood could still be rough.

    Run the plank through the table saw on edge (thinnest dimension). Maybe making a taller fence for ease and safety, depending on how wide the boards are.

    It might require a rip cut table saw blade--are these different than standard blades?

    As I install the now tongue and groove planks I can bevel the tongues for easier, more uniform, installation. Can be done with a variety of relatively inexpensive hand tools.

    With suitably flat subflooring, the final thicknessing to take the roughness from the face of the boards could be done as part of the sanding.

    Less expensive material, and fewer tools needed. But sanding might take phenomenally longer?
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Yes, you could definitely use a table saw.  I have done that for smaller projects like cabinet doors.  If you're really precise with your set-up you could tilt the blade slightly to taper the tongues for you.

    The challenges with that are keeping the vertical boards tight to the fence.  If they wander at all, you'd end up with tongues and grooves that are either too big or too little and won't fit together well.  Having the boards all the same thickness would be critical for the same reason and a couple more.

    A normal table saw blade would work just fine.

    I'm still thinking I'd just go with the router bits and router.  Borrow the router if needed and the bits are under $50 (gift them to the router loaner as a thank you)

    But the perpendicular edges would be pretty hard on a table saw.  Best tool would be a radial arm saw or sliding miter saw.  Decent option would be a homemade 90 degree template and a circular saw.  Just put tongues and grooves on all the boards and wait till you install them to cut the ends.  Somewhat often the "factory end cut" ends up against the wall under trim where you won't see it anyway.  And as you install it you'd be using that same rig to cut pieces to fit so you might as well do it all at the same time.
     
    Kamaar Taliaferro
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    Ahhhhhh so the boards would have to be thickness-ed prior to table sawing, otherwise the tongue and groove wouldn't align!

    Thanks for pointing that out. Obvious as it is after the fact to me.
     
    Mike Haasl
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    Yeah, much more likely to succeed if you plane them first.  If they were different thicknesses and you could set up the table saw so that the fence was always on the "underside" of the flooring, then when you install them it would all work out and you could sand them all flat.  But you're much more likely to mess up doing it that way.
     
    Eliot Mason
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    Kamaar asks a relevant question - I'll paraphrase as "Can Task X be done with a general purpose tool instead of a specialized tool?"

    As Mike answer, yes it can be done.  But with caveats.

    I'm not a big fan of "the right tool for the job" because it eliminates innovation and ingenuity and, IMHO, seems to allow marketers to assert what is the "right" tool.  Which is to say that, yes, you can use a table saw to accomplish an astounding number of things, especially if you have the time.  For instance, to cut a T&G on a single piece of flooring with a standard blade is at least 6 passes over the blade - two to cut the groove, and four to cut the tongue (most blades have a 1/8" kerf or cutting width ... so on a 3/4" plank you could make a 1/4" groove in two passes.  But on the tongue you have to remove 1/4" from top and bottom). That's with the right blade (a "planer" tip blade) and with boards of the right thickness - deviate and you can go from 6 passes to 9.  With a dado blade or other special blades, you can do this in two passes.  Or with a router or shaper its also two passes, while specialized equipment is a single pass.

    6 passes per board is a lot of time - but you might have time and neither $ nor space for other equipment.

    And sure, we're all on lock-down right now so I've got a LOT of time. But here's the catch ... EVERY cut is a chance for something to go wrong.  Its not as simple as 6 passes is 3x more likely to have an error than 2 passes, but it is higher.  That wrong thing can be a misaligned cut that ruins the piece, or it can be a slip of the hand or a kick-back.  And placing boards on edge on a table saw dramatically increases risk.  The amount of damage a 2 hp motor spinning a 60 tooth blade at 3600 RPM* can inflict on flesh is truly astonishing - as is the force that it can shoot a piece of wood back at you (and through the wall...).  Now these risks can certainly be minimized by good practice and additional equipment (feather boards, high fences, push sleds, SawStop technology, etc) but we are moving towards creating a special purpose machine.  

    I'm not advising that we have to buy all finished products, or that we have to have giant shops full of specialized equipment - I am suggesting that we need to be aware of the tradeoffs of "just" using a tablesaw.  If you're considering making 1,000 sq ft of flooring with just a table saw you really need to consider the risk.  Its gonna be hard installing the floor without ten fingers.
    [/safety_soapbox]

    *Fun Fact - 3600 RPM is 60 revolutions per second.  With 60 teeth that's... 3600 cuts per second.
     
    Kamaar Taliaferro
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    Great point Eliot. As someone who uses mostly hand tools I may be underestimating the potential dangers of a table saw.

    That perspective--noob enough to have an idea and no idea how good or bad it is--really asks us to do our research. (Like ahem "hugelswales" or drinking turpentine to kill intestinal worms.) If we are willing to put that time in, and maybe be a little stubborn about our idea, we might stumble upon something.

    @ S.Bard check it out.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hvsvMzgiq6s  


    A way to use planks without tongues and grooves.
     
    S. Bard
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    Thank you for that link, Kamaar.
    That clip was truly a pleasure to watch. Could something similar be achieved with thinner boards? We have low ceilings on some floors, so we need to keep the thickness of the flooring at a minimum. 3 to 4 cm (1 to 1,5 inches) would be the ideal thickness.
     
    Kamaar Taliaferro
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    I love that channel. I'm sure you could find some hand tool only projects to make use of that blown down timber.

    Did you check part one? If I'm remembering correctly it shows how he prepared the sills and joists for the planks. And how he prepared the planks to be the same thickness. So the finished flooring is also his "subfloor". It would also give you an idea of the amount of work involved.

    If you already have a sturdy subfloor I'm sure you could even do 3/4" (19 mm).

    If you're installing over a subfloor you'd have to replicate the sills (which would be akin to the perimeter of the room) and the joists. I might call the joists "dovetailed dados"-- if you look up Paul Sellers on YouTube he has some videos on various housing dados and how to craft them.

    Now, in replicating those sills and joists, it would be wise to fasten them to your subfloor. Like others here have suggested countersink your screwheads and cover with wood plugs.

    The ingenuity of that flooring system is it's possible, as the floor shrinks, to add additional planks to tighten the floor, without having to remove the entire floor.

    I think it would be similarly difficult to use wavy boards, as others have said, but they could be shorter--so possibly a little easier?
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