To mill or to buy?

SWMBO has declared the laminate wood-ish floors in the house to be unsuited to civilized life. She wants real 3/4" thick hardwood, and seems to think that I'm up to the task of milling it...
Here's the question (two actually): First, is it likely that I'll save money by buying some kiln dried 1C oak and shaping it myself? Second, Is a 2.25 HP PC router in a table up to the task of shaping 1500 sq ft of oak, or do I need a shaper? (Grizzly's got a 3HP model G1026 for $875, and the Shop Fox 2HP model G4792 for $675) I'm not sure that the 2HP shaper would be appreciably better than the router table though.
Any of you folks been through this before?
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Not likely to save money milling it yourself *especially* if you have to buy a shaper, as i don't believe a router would be "suited to civilized life" at 1500 sq ft. If you do decide to go the shaper route I'd suggest a 3hp WITH a feeder. Longish legnths of flooring will be a real pain to run by hand and get milled accurately with out the assistance of a feeder. --dave

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No way can you make this pay by doing it yourself. Flooring manuf. are set up to 1) buy wood by the trainload, and 2) mill it very efficiently. I worked for years in a three man shop, and we would never have done this ourselves. If you are looking to save a few $, call around looking for "shorts" -- same quality and more visual interest with a little more variation the same area.
Matthew

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The reasons I build my own furniture are mainly a) I can do it cheaper than buying some of like quality b) I can design the piece to fix the exact specifications I have in mind c) I can build it from my choice of materials
IMHO, unless you're wanting to make the flooring out of something that's not widely available as flooring material, I doubt you're going to save money, especially if you have to amortize the cost of a shaper in the process. I honestly don't think you're going to end up with a better product than purchased flooring. Oak flooring is readily available and not overly expensive. It can even be purchased pre-finished, if you're into that sort of thing. (From my own experience, I put down a prefinished 3/4" oak floor and I wasn't wild about the finished product. Due to variations from piece to piece, the surface is not smooth once complete. If it had been put down unfinished and then sanded, it would have been smooth.) Now, far be it from me to dissuade you if you're just looking for an excuse to buy a shaper...I'm all for coming up with lame excuses to buy new tools. If you had 3" strip flooring in mind, we're talking about roughly 3000 feet of lumber to rip, plane, joint, and shape. That doesn't sound like fun to me, but YMMV.
todd
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It sounds like a lot of work, of which you will have plenty if you do your own flooring. I don't think you would save a lot of dough, though I confess that I haven't researched the topic.
Dave

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On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 20:55:35 -0500, WoodMangler

Buy it.
Barry
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www.lumberliquidators.com -- very happy customer. If you check out the odd lots section you can get pre-finished strip oak at $0.99/ft

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wrote:

That is, how long do you suppose it's going to take to mill all that? Consider what you will have to do. #1 COM has a fair number of defects you'll need to cut around. Then the boards need to be cut to rough width and length, jointed, planed, cut to finished size, and edge-profiled. IMO you'll be lucky to get seven or eight board feet of finished product per hour -- and at that rate, 1500 feet represents _five_solid_weeks_ of full-time work.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
Get a copy of my NEW AND IMPROVED TrollFilter for NewsProxy/Nfilter by sending email to autoresponder at filterinfo-at-milmac-dot-com You must use your REAL email address to get a response.
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Have you installed and finished 1500 sf of hardwood? Have you removed the same amount? I had more than my share of fun installing and finishing the stuff when we built this house.
You would be amazed how fast you can rip and mill with a stock feeder. The pain is that they groove the bottom which is just a few more feeds. Oh, the tongue and groove on the end of each board would be the real fun. I am agreeing Doug on this one.
snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

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Ok, ok... I get it. It's unanimous; I won't do it. But, that's gonna deprive me of the chance for a new tool.
Well, come to think of it, even if I buy the flooring, I'm still gonna need a CMS - perhaps even an SCMS... All current crosscutting is done with the TS or circular. 'bout time I got a decent miter saw anyway.
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That's exactly how I justified my Bosch SCMS....
todd
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I HAVE SEEN NICE PREFINISHED FLOORING FOR ABOUT $4 AT HD.LOWES. a BARGAIN IF YOUR FLOOR IS LEVEL.. WILSON

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The new Bosch is very nice. And, if you are creative, you could probably save enough for a new compressor and a finish nailer.
And maybe have enough energy for a weekend with/for SWMBO.
There is sufficient work involved in laying even a prefinished, floating floor to earn you plenty of spouse points.
First you have to empty all the rooms....
Patriarch
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WoodMangler wrote:

Buy. But, read on...
I bought rough lumber, contracted with the Kiln operator and the mill directly, and produced ready-to-install solid wood flooring for my in-laws for $1.25/LF (they wanted pine, oak would have cost roughly another $.75-$1.00 per LF).
You have to be able to find a quality sawyer or lumber yard with competitive prices, a competent kiln operator (unless the lumber from the yard is already KD and protected from the elements), and a fairly priced, competent mill.
In my case, the kiln and mill were one and the same, the sawyer was someone I've worked with often, and both are within a 30 minute drive from the home site -- and I have a truck that can haul the load!
I had counted on 25% waste from rough-sawn to finished, but it turned out to be much, much lower than that. And, contrary to popular practice, I did NOT have the bottom center of the boards milled, so that we could use the overage for other projects. To date (more than 6 years) there have been NO negative results from this.
Happy shavings, Gary
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Having installed a ton of hardwood floors I would recomend buying a prefinished product. I am actually in the process of installing 700 feet of 5 inch wide maple. My favorite manufacturer is somerset hardwood located in Kentucky. http://www.somersetfloors.com/ We have installed other brands but were not happy with the product. Last week we installed a 1000 square feet of 2 1/4 wide Augusta hardwood and I and the homeowner were unimpressed with it. The surface was so slick and their was a lot of defect boards not milled good enough that left gaps. These variances were unnoticeable untill after the board was installed. After installing these and stopping perodically to remove the bad one it was very time consuming. As for you buying and milling them I just dont see how it would be cost effective.If your not looking for finished product check out lowes and hd the usually have some for sell. Compare the cost of prefinished versus you or someone else finishing a raw product. Also I will say the 21/4 installs extremely slow and you use a ton of staples compare to a wider product. Hope this helps in your deciding Roger

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