Category: Personal

Home Renovation Stories – flooring the hall and Tiger Balm

Some days I just have to break out the Tiger Balm. After two days of mostly being on my knees I am breaking down and smelling the menthol. Either that or take the day off. Nice thought, but we have guests coming in two weekends, and this is one of two projects in queue before then. Sigh.

Little did I know when we started re-flooring the house starting with the mail hallway that the prep work would be SO DANG TEDIOUS! It shouldn’t be a surprise; I’ve been working on houses for the past 30+ years. But I just spent two full days on my knees, pulling out carpet tack strip, the staples holding the old carpet pad down every two inches, and leveling out the floor; some things that work under carpet will NOT work under hardwood. Oh yeah, I should also mention that the carpet installers did not clean at all before laying down the carpet; there were 16-year-old muddy footprints all over. Guess what Alisa did while I was finishing up the step! Image

On the plus side, I fixed one of the things that has bugged me since we built the house. Where the hall leads into the living room, the framers left 3/8″ of the wall header sticking above the decking, and the step tilted down a little. That worked under the carpet, and I’m guessing only Alisa and I noticed it. But having spent the time to fix it, I now understand why the builder didn’t really want to.

Fixing the tilting step really wasn’t that bad The step board had crowned slightly, so was about 1/8″ out of level on the front 3″. Cut a strip of 1/8″ birch ply, glue it in place, the use a scrub plane and smooth plane to blend the taper in. The step was also about 1/*” below the floor on the other side of the framing mess, so a full-size piece of 1/8″ birch ply to fix that.

Then came the fun, getting rid of just shy of 3/8″ of 2×4 that stuck up thru the floor. After a lot of thought, I came up with using a router on a sled, kind of like you’d use to face a large tabletop or such. Had to work around the framing staples, and could not get closer to the wall than the router base (3″). Used a cheap framing chisel to work around the staples without nicking it (too much), pull the staples, and use a smooth plane and disc sander to finish it up. Now it’s as smooth as, well, whatever you think really smooth is like.


For those of you that are wincing about the smooth plane, I have one of those Rali replaceable blade smoothers, and a French Rabot block plane that uses utility knife blades. Oh, and Alisa will break down and move the fish tank when we get closer to getting the floor done.