Hi, I am going to soon start milling 3/4" solid red oak flooring in a 6", 7", and 8" face width. I am wanting some advice from you guys who mill a good bit of this kind of flooring. Do most of you guys end match your flooring? Or, do most of you guys not end match your flooring? I have talked to several people and have been advised both ways. I've already got a 24" gang ripsaw and a Weinig Unimat 6 head moulder. I'm just still trying to decide if I should offer end matching. And, if I offer end matching, how am I going to do it. I don't have an end matcher right now. If some of you guys do end matching, do you have a way to do it without an end matcher? The only thing I've got right now would be a shaper with an air tenoning jig. And, I know that would be super slow. I've thought about building a low tech end matcher using shaper spindle assemblies, motors, pulleys, and a fabricated steel frame. I'm just looking for feed back. Also, some end matching that I have looked at is very loose. It seems to me that if your end matching is very loose that it kind of defeats the purpose in having it to begin with because I would think that the end matching is to help mating ends stay relatively flat to each other in case one end tries to cup. But, if the end matching is loose, that would allow one mating end to possibly raise up above the other end if it does cup after installation. Thanks in advance for all of your help.
I have good friends who have been producing high quality random width floor for at least the past 25 years. We've gone to many IFW shows in Atlanta together and one of the things they always look at are the end matchers.
After being around these guys for all these years I've come away with the sense that end matching is the "right" way to make flooring but not necessarily the way it must be done. Your inquiry is right on target: do it or don't do, that is the the question.
Some shops don't do it at all and some will substitute something like biscuit wafers to help align the boards. It seems though that the best product will include end matched boards and that should be the long term goal.
I suspect that many small to medium size shops that end match their flooring started out by not end matching. Then over time as they sorted out the complexities of pulling it off they eventually made the "step up" to the process. Is this absolutely necessary? No. But is it a better product? Yes.
I have run some flooring, not a lot. Usually for landings for stairs to match the treads. I would agree with B. H. Davis. However, I was told many years ago not to go wider than 5". Going with wider boards would cause too much shrinkage and the boards would cup and crown too much.
Earlier this year, I did a wide plank floor of white oak, number 2 and 3 common, 6 to 12 inches wide, random lengths we biscuited the ends. I warned the home owners, of all the pit falls. I random screwed and plugged with black walnut plugs. This was for a neighbor. so I did not charge them, every time I see them they just rave over the new floor. I recently ask how the shrinkage and cracking was affecting the floor. They said yes that is happening, but we love it, especially how warm this floor in on their bare feet
Bernie's explanation, is very good and yes end match if at all possible. Make the customer aware and even go so far as to, have them sign a disclaimer that you provided the information up front. This rustic flooring, is in high demand, here in Michigan
Thanks guys for all of your advice. I do agree that end matching would be the best way to go. The issue is the cost of an actual end matcher. If this flooring venture works out well, I would like to eventually get an actual end matcher. But, for now I've either got to sell it not end matched or I've got to figure out a way to build a more manual version of a nice end matcher. I've got five shapers, but it would be difficult to end match12' long oak boards using a regular shaper because of the weight of the wood. I realize that it would be better to move the cutter head instead of moving the board during the cutting operation. I've thought of several ways to build a basic end matcher using a 1 1/4" shaper spindle assembly, pulleys, a motor, air hold down clamps, and a frame with a set of guide rails for the spindle assembly to move 90° to a fence. Do any of you guys have any idea where I might find some plans for something like that? Or, do you guys have any advice for doing the tongue and groove end matching without an actual factory made end matcher? Thanks again guys for all of your advice.
Well get started and test the market, in the mean time, plan on going to the next major woodwork show. buy of lease a good automated system and start making money don't waste your time trying to invent the wheel. Automation is the only way to approach this. If you want to make money
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