In the tenants' apartment in our 1840's townhouse a portion of the wide
plank soft pine floor has cracked. My intention is to cut out and replace
the cracked piece with a patch of modern clear pine stained and polyed to
match the rest of the board (it is under a rug anyway). The patch would be
three inches wide between two joists (22" OC) while the original board is 8
feet long. In order to do this I have to cut out about a 3" wide piece of
this board out across the top of one joist. So I only have access from the
top of the board. My guess is the best way to do this is with a sharp
pointed knife. Do you think either one of these would work:
(my guess is the Murphy Knife set would be better for cutting from the top
with the knife at an angle)
or what about a simple utility knife? Any other thoughts?
What's wrong with a circular saw? Just be careful of the depth you set it
to. You'll still need to finish the corners though.
A rotary saw may be better for this job, but they can be quite hard to
What kind of "crack"? In general for an 1840's vintage floor, I'd tend
to think it part of the ambience unless it is split so badly as to be a
safety as opposed to cosmetic defect. Pictures?
What's beneath the floor, anything? I don't think the knife is a very
useful tool for the job, whatever it is. The other poster's suggestion
of a circular saw at the proper depth is reasonable, particularly if you
had a small diameter trim saw (like one of the cordless 5" jobbies).
Failing that, I'd like to see what we're actually talking about for a
real plan of attack...
You will be in for a looooonnng project trying to cut it out with a
knife. I consider it in the 'impossible' range. Yes, using a saw
from the top will cause a rough cut (splinters pulled up) on the cross
cut. To avoid that make a cut with a very sharp knife and cut just
inside that. The rip cut shouldn't be a problem.
Modern clear pine will not be the same thickness as your antique pine floor
nor will it be close to colour or grain even with stain. Is it possible to
lift the entire board out and glue or repair it and replace it back? This
would look much better and fit in with the age of the building.
You may also have to put some cleats on the side of the joists and span the
joist with a pine board or plywood installed flush with the top of the joist
to support the cracked antique board. Your lack of description of the crack
makes it hard to suggest real solutions that would work for you.
Lots of good advice on cutting, but it sounds to me like something I would
just fill with epoxy and then trim and finish to suit. You can add some
sawdust or other filler to the epoxy if desired.
I agree with the guys telling you to fix it. A patch will look like crap.
What is under the floorboards? Could you drill a large hole in it and use
that to get a saw blade in? (if you decide to cut it out that is...) I
don't know how 1840 floors were made.
OP here. Thanks for all the comments. And sorry I wasn't clear about the
situation. The "crack is actually a break and is not reparable. I will try
to explain it as best as I can in words as I do not want to disturb the
tenant by having to move furniture and lift the rug just to take a picture).
The board in question is about eight feet long by twelve inches wide. It is
flat plank and laid directly over the joists which are about two feet apart.
It is held in place by flat cut nails. The joists are about 9" deep and have
the lathing for the ceiling below attached to their bottoms. Essentially
what happened is that a piece of the board about 3" wide separated from the
board and cracked in two. this is just between two joists and which I want
to patch. This house has some detail and a lot of "old feel" to it, but is
far from museum quality. It has seen a lot of "muddling" including some
floor patches using modern wood done by professionals in its time. Thus the
patch would be unfortunate, but not a total disaster.
Now in order to do this I have to I have to cut this broken piece that is
still attached to the rest of the board on its end over the joist. This is
what I wanted to cut with a knife. Based on what is universal opinion that
this is a terrible idea, I will do it with a rotary saw (I don't have the
confidence to do this with a full sized circular saw). When I have these
two pieces I will see if it is possible to epoxy them together and support
this glued piece in the middle with a piece of wood glued to the bottom of
the adjacent boards. Or I'll do the patch of the broken piece is too far
gone. BTW the board and the patch do match in thickness. Bit if the new
board is a 32" of an inch thinner, it is easy to build up since it owly
touches something underneath it at the joists.
Thanks again for all the help.
Be aware that the new board does not have to lap over the joists. You can
cut the old board next to the joists, remove it and secure blocks alongside
the joists to support the new board. You can also install blocks partially
under the adjacent boards and the easiest way to do that is by using glue
and hex-head screws droven from the bottom up. A small socket and ratchet
will allow you to easily turn the screws from below. Screwing the blocks to
the joists will also prevent vibration damage to the ceiling from driving
To cut out the old board, drill holes inside the corners and use a sabre
saw. You can use a piece of cardboard or thin wood to protect the floor
finish from damage by the shoe of the saw. Piece of cake!! Drills and a
sabre saw are essential tools for home repairs.
First, I agree with the other posters who have recommended repairing
the original board rather than patching. If the crack is longitudinal
it doesn't much affect the strength of the board and it should be
possible to do something with epoxy that will prevent creaking,
If patching, as I understand the question you want to remove a piece
of wood about 3" wide by 22" long from the middle of the board. I
would recommend using a circular saw to make the long cuts and then a
sharp straight wood chisel for the short cross-grain cuts and to clean
up the corners where your circular-saw cuts don't go full depth all
the way to the corner.
As others have pointed out, most likely a new piece of pine won't
match the thickness of the original and will have to be built up or
planed down somehow. -- H
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