I’ve been working on the wood floors for the Keeper’s House. And the first floor is done! Kind of. Sort of. Not exactly.
Well. OK. It is done in the sense that I cut the balsa wood strips for all 47 rows. It’s not done in the sense that I think I’m going to have to recut the strips for a few of them. I expected as much. The question is, do I recut the strips now or later?
Chop, Chop, Chop
So, after the first 10 rows, it was time to do the rest. I promise you, I waited at least a week to do that. Probably more. My hand was not looking forward to it.
Before I started cutting, though, I built a second “riser” for the miter box. Might have been the third one, actually. Whatever. The point is I MacGyvered another piece of cardboard into a “holder” for the balsa wood to raise it up.
That made a huge difference. I didn’t have to saw as far down, and it made things smoother, I guess? Faster? Easier. I don’t know. I was happy to have it.
The next step was to figure out which balsa wood strips to chop and which balsa wood strips would stay whole. That was easy. Just hold them up to a straight edge.
Then it was just chop, chop, chop.
But, Did It Work?
Yes! I won’t rehash the picking and the chopping and the numbering. I ended up with a bag of almost perfectly sized balsa wood strips for the floor.
But, Are You Sure It Worked?
I figured I should make sure I got it right. Since I know from the first 10 that not everything measured out right. So, I started my first-floor jigsaw puzzle.
I figured it would be as simple as spilling out the bag, matching the numbers and putting everything in place. It wasn’t.
Because, of course, it wasn’t.
I don’t know if this qualifies as a newbie mistake, but, wow. This was… interesting.
It was good practice, but I don’t know if I’ll do the same thing for the second floor. I may not have much of a choice, though. I can’t think of anything better.
I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that this was a lot like Jenga in reverse but flat on the floor.
Actually, it’s more like 52 Card Pick up.
I spilled the pieces out of the bag and started putting them in place.
Following the template, I started putting each balsa wood strip in place. I started at the back (technically front of the house because that’s where the door is) then slid the row into place.
If this sounds a little ridiculous, I promise it’s not. At the back (front) of the house, I’ve got a solid wall. It gives me something to hold the balsa wood strips in place and sort of braces them as I work.
The truth is, and I don’t have any pictures, there was more than one time when I pushed a little bit too hard, and everything kind of popped up. It was easy to push back in place. And, the one or two times the boards got out of order, I just followed the numbers.
The whole project was generally a simple matter of matching the numbers up and putting the strips in order.
Kind of like kindergarten.
My Handwriting Is Terrible
I knew this, but I bet you didn’t.
I’m going to have to put “tails” on my ones going forward. Why?
So, what’s 12, and what’s 21? Here’s a close up.
You think it’s obvious. But, I promise you, it’s not. And I wrote those numbers.
This is where the template comes in handy.
It’s hard to tell in the photo, but, ironically, the two cut strips are about the same length for each row.
Of course, they are. I figured it out, though, thanks to the template. Once I held each strip and matched the other strips together, it was easy to see which one was what.
Sadly, I’m going to have to do this again when I actually lay the floor, but I’ll worry about that when I get there.
Funny story. I posted the pictures on Instagram, and someone mentioned that I was smart to label everything because she dropped her floorboards before they were secured and couldn’t get it back together.
The Almost Finished Product
Here’s the floor mostly in place:
On the left, you’ll notice a funky gap. I misplaced a piece. Figured I’d have to recut it, but I found it. It was tiny, and it slid under a piece of paper.
I wouldn’t have been too upset if I had to recut it. You’ll see why in a minute.
On the right of the picture, you’ll notice another funky gap. That’s on purpose. It’s for the stairs. I think I’m going to install the stairs first, then this part of the floor, then go back and fill in the gaps.
The problem is if I go that route, I won’t be able to dye all the wood strips at the same time. That means I could end up with different colored boards. Is this a big deal? I don’t know. We’ll see.
The other routes are keeping the dye in the fridge and use it later (something I only see ending in disaster) or dye the floors after I lay them. Like the pros do in the real world.
But, baby steps. I’m not remotely there.
You’ll also notice a gap at the front edge (bottom of the picture). Yeah. Not sure what that is, but I’ve got a theory.
My guess is that when I laid this, I was pushing a little too hard in some spots, and the board popped up, creating that edge.
But, given how “evenish” it is, I’m guessing not. I may cut another set of wood strips to fill that in. Of course, that means splitting the balsa wood lengthwise, and I don’t even know if that’s possible. I mean, I’m sure it’s possible, I’m just not sure it’s possible for me to do it.
Again, baby steps.
And, Other Problems to Face
Here’s a close up of the floor against the interior wall:
First, you’ll see the ends aren’t perfectly flush against the wall. I already knew this would be an issue. The question is, what do I do about it.
I could recut the strips (or maybe rearrange a few). But, that might be a pain, and there’s no guarantee I’d get it right the second time. Or third. Or fourth. And then I’d cry.
I could put the whole thing together then see how it looks. Meaning, install the stairs, dye the wood lay the floor, then decide. But, if I don’t like it, I’ll have to redo the whole floor. Maybe. Probably. I don’t know.
Or, I could say “screw it” and leave it.
I’m leaning toward “screw it,” but we’ll see what happens.
Here’s the second thing I’ll have to tackle.
I didn’t realize how curved some of the balsa wood strips are. I mean, I knew they curved side to side, but I didn’t realize the ends curved up. If you look at the back rows (specifically 41 and 45), you can see what I’m talking about.
Now, part of that is that the end strips that I cut are too long, so they don’t fit right. But, look at row 24. It’s not as obvious in the picture, but that’s not just a gap between boards. That board on the right is curved up.
I’m assuming it will be easy to glue down. It’s not like they’re bent at a ninety-degree angle. But what do I know?
Of course, if I do get them to lay flat and hold in place, the end boards will probably be the wrong length, and then what?
The second floor. Hopefully, the cuts will be evener. If nothing else, I’ve learned a lot from doing the first floor, and maybe I’ll make fewer mistakes upstairs.
Any balsa wood advice? Am I screwed?