From Logs to Wood Flooring Part 3: Milling Wood

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringLets start milling wood! You saw the logs get cut into planks, and you saw the planks get dried. Now it’s time to turn those planks into wood flooring. Off to Balsam Millwork to take advantage of the big machines.

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringPlane ’em First. Remember that the last machine these boards saw was a sawmill. We’ve got to make them relatively smooth and get them to a uniform thickness. Into the planer they go. They come out about 15/16″ thick, leaving room for the moulder to take off more.

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Turning Logs into Wood FlooringThe planer was a monster, 24″ wide with two heads, one on top and one below. We took off 1/4″ per pass. The machine uses carbide insert cutters, 104 per head. There was no slowing this machine down.

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringRip to Width. From the planer the boards headed to the gang rip machine. It has three saw blades, a power feed, and lasers that show here the blades will cut. Mike triaged the boards as he handled them, determining if we’d get the most yield by cutting a given board into 3″, 4″, 5″, or 6″ widths. With three blades each cut can produce two boards.

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringI caught boards on the outfeed side, placing the boards on size-specific piles. At this point the blades are set to produce 4-1/2″ and 5-1/2″ wide boards, 1/2″ wide than their finished dimension. Later we’ll reset for 3-1/2″ and 6-1/2″ rips.

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringA look inside the gang rip machine. The blades can be loosened and slid along the arbor to hit different widths of rips.

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringKeeping up with the chips wasn’t easy. We had to stop and swap dust collector bags every 10-15 minutes, and we filled 15 bags. When I say we swapped bags, I actually mean me. How did I get this job? Hmm, pine is delicious.

Turning Logs into Wood Flooring The other by-product of ripping lots of skinny offcuts. We filled this cart twice. The millwork shop turns a lot of these rips into kindling.The planing and ripping operation took four hours.

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringShaped by the Moulder. Here’s what we’ve got. The boards are a little too thick, but thickness is uniform. They’re a 1/2″ wider than their finished widths of 3″, 4″, 5″, and 6″ flooring. Allowing multiple widths provided the most yield from the boards we had. Time to send them through the moulder which will finalize the thickness, machine in the tongue and groove, and put relief cuts in the back.

Turning Logs into Wood Flooring Moulders have more cutters than Norm has routers! The machine is set to a specific width, and that whole pile of boards is fed through, good face down. Then settings are changed and another width is sent through.

Turning Logs into Wood Flooring After the moulder each board is “defected.” This means cutting out cracks, large knots, and anything else we don’t want in the finished floor. We didn’t eliminate all knots. It’s pine, after all. There wouldn’t be any floor left.This operation took 6 hours, and we filled 15 more bags of sawdust.

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringEnd Matching. The last machining step. Boards are fed in with tongues and grooves on the edges, but square ends.

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringBoards come out with a tongue on one end and groove on the other, ready for installation.

Turning Logs into Wood Flooring Contributing Editor Paul Mayer offered to help out (silly man). As he stacks the end matched boards you can start to see what the finished floor will look like. Random lengths, random widths, and random colors.End matching took four hours.

Turning Logs into Wood FlooringThe end result; 2010 square feet of pine flooring. We’ve got 3″, 4″, 5″, and 6″ widths. Boards as short as 9″ and as long as 9′. Net price, $1.10/square foot, and some labor. I’d do this again in a heartbeat. Can’t wait to install it!

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Related Video:

Logs to Flooring: Milling

Discussion
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15 Responses to “From Logs to Wood Flooring Part 3: Milling Wood”
  1. Kermit Prather

    I’m looking forward to seeing your finished floors. Thanks for the step by step explanation of the process. I often wondered how they made the flooring.

    Reply
  2. Kermit Prather

    I’m looking forward to seeing your finished floors. Thanks for the step by step explanation of the process. I often wondered how they made the flooring.

    Reply
  3. Amber Baltierra

    Hello, I am looking for a price sheet of the different species of wood per square foot that you provide as well as pricing on trim work if that is also available.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Amber and thank you for your inquiry. WWGOA does not sell lumber or molding. You might want to check with local suppliers in your area.

      Reply
  4. Mark petrowicz

    Where can I find a sawyer and flooring woodworker in Maryland I have the trees .

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Mark. We do not have any contacts there, but you might want to start by looking on Craigslist.

      Reply
  5. Sal LaRosa

    unbelievable process…. would have loved to have been there during the whole process…….i had oak logs milled into boards when I lived in conn.2″ thick left them rough and used then in a three level deck to the entrance of a home I designed and built …..I was my own subcontractor

    Reply