Edgeto Edge Joints

The excellence of the flat, straight surface is that it will fit perfectly tight against any other flat, straight surface. Flooring is a simple example—one that a carpenter or joiner might undertake. Each board fits tight against the other, and the floor lies flat and smooth—but only if the joists are level and the boards are all the same thickness. If the joists are uneven, the floor will undulate. If the floorboards vary in thickness, the floor will be jagged.

It's relatively easy to level the tops of floor joists with chalk line and adze, but consider the labor required to hand plane all the boards for a floor to the same thickness. The trick is to adjust the thickness of the floorboards only where they need to be even—where they cross a joist. That's why the underside of a floor from the hand-plane era looks so uneven. The boards are all the same thickness where they cross the joist, but between joists—who cares?

Here are the steps on the floor. The boards come from the sawyers and find a place inside to dry so they won't shrink and pull apart after they are laid. When the boards are judged to be seasoned, the carpenter or joiner begins planing. Each board gets flipped over and over and the face side chosen and planed, then the two edges jointed, and nothing more. The faced and edged boards go into a pile. The boards were sawn at different times, perhaps by different crews, and their thickness might vary as much as a half inch. The joiner determines the lowest common thickness of all the flooring and sets a marking gauge accordingly. Gauging down from the face side, each board gets this thickness scribed down both edges. The board now goes on the bench with the rough side up. With multiple passes of the rabbet plane along the edges, the joiner makes a narrow shoulder, or rabbet, reaching down to the scribed line.

When all the boards are gauged and rabbeted, it's time to lay the floor. As each board gets set into place, rough side up, the carpenter or joiner can see where a joist passes underneath. In those spots alone, the adze makes short work of bringing the board down to the thickness indicated by the gauge lines. Flipped over, the fat on the floorboard hangs down and the tops are level.

When four or five boards are ready for nailing, they can get pushed together as tightly as strength permits—but that's still not tight enough. Only the outermost board of each set gets nailed down, and that only after it has been moved in about a half inch. Now, the inner boards don't have enough room to fit back in unless two of them are folded upward, tentlike, against one another.

Hearing the call, the other workers walk over and give a big jump on the fold, forcing it flat, squeezing the boards tightly together. Of course, the other guys left their hammers back where they were working earlier, so they can do nothing but stand and talk and smoke while the guy laying the floor crawls about, trying to get it all nailed down before they wander away.

Nail boundary boards a bit too close together. This lets you spring the boards between them tightly into place.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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