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Manufacturing End Grain Wood Flooring on a Medium-Large Scale12/22
Hello. I've owned and operated a wood flooring business for the last 10+ years. I'm considering a move into the manufacturing side of the business and considering some various niche products with one of them being end grain wood flooring. This is something that their doesn't seem to be a whole lot of people doing and with my extensive contacts in the business and online marketing skills, I think it's something I could sell a lot of.
I am pretty familiar with many of the processes and steps involved with manufacturing traditional wood flooring.
However, while considering end grain flooring as an option for a niche product to manufacture I thought I'd ask a few of the questions that have popped up regarding the manufacturing of end grain flooring on a medium-larger scale. I'm hoping some of you might have some experience with this or may at least have some ideas as to how you might do things to make them as efficient as possible.
The main thing that I've wondered is if it would be more efficient to just cut individual blocks and sell it like that, or if it might be better to glue 8-12" of long strips together (like you would for a cutting board) and then cut that into tiled sort of pieces and then run the tiled pieces through a router to groove both sides of them so you could use spline/slip tongue to then lock them together much like a traditional wood floor. I've included a picture of what I'm talking about. I think with the larger sized pieces (maybe 4"X4" or larger) it seems like just making/selling the blocks would be best. But I wasn't sure what the best way to do smaller blocks might be.
Also, aside from what would make manufacturing these the simplest/most efficient, I'm also wondering what all equipment one might need to do this on a scale of manufacturing say 3,000-5,000sf per month? Would you need a kiln or just buy properly dried wood? What type of saws/sawmill would be best to do these on this scale? What other equipment might you recommend?
Any help with my questions, other things to consider with this, machine/equipment recommendations etc would be greatly appreciated. This is something I've considered for quite awhile and I'm ready to make the leap into another end of the wood flooring business. Thanks a lot.
I encourage you to check the costs of manufacturing. It would seem that the adhesive costs and extra handling costs would dramatically increase the product costs. The installer would not appreciate short pieces and longer pieces will break in handling. In addition, as traditional flooring shrinks and swells only in width, this will shrink and swell in both length and width directions. Shrinkage stress can easily cause a crack rather than just an opening of the joint. The crack would be unsightly and hard to repair. I do believe you need to field test a dozen or so floors before you begin production.
You will likely have to use a non-formaldehyde adhesive. PVA will not work due to heat and moisture issues, so your adhesive will be a more expensive type, such as pur. This will add to cost.
Finishing will be more difficult, as end grain finishing requires more effort and finish material due to end grain absorption. It may also require both sides being finished.
I'd think those pieces would be fairly fragile to handle, even more fragile to nail down with the weak short vertical grain, and prone to cracking if the sub-floor isn't dead flat. I'd also suggest you do some real research. "There aren't a whole lot of people doing it" can mean two things, no demand or it's hard to make money at it. Personally, I love the look.