Machinery for End-Matching Flooring

Short of investing in a specialized end-matching machine, are there other ways to efficiently get quality results on more typical shop equipment? July 26, 2010

I do not understand how to end match floor boards. Is there any way of doing this without spending $50,000 on an end match machine? I would think that if the sides are T&G with a shaper, there must be a way to also do the ends. When I try moving the board to the power feeder, it starts to turn and the cut is very poor at best. The boards are 3 - 6 feet long and I do not know how to connect an outboard that far off of the table. Is there a quick way of extending the table 6 feet out so that I can secure an outboard?

Shaper Setup for Tongue-and-Groove Floor

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor J:
I don't mill flooring so take my advice for what it's worth. I can't envision any way to use a powerfeeder for end matching flooring unless the boards are exceptionally wide. The only way I can see doing it on a shaper is with a coping sled of some sort. Or if you have the resources, attaching a sliding table to your shaper.

From contributor M:
I would agree with contributor J - coping sled, sliding table shaper, even a small tenoner. If you live on the edge, there were moulding heads you could get for the big Dewalt radial arm saws - move the cutter and not the wood. I am not sure what you mean by an outboard, but I think there are several options to help support longer material. Attach a subtop of melamine or laminate that is of appropriate size and cut a dado for your cope jig. Or even something as basic as a sawhorse the right height, waxed up real good. The bottom line is, on a shaper it's a lot of work cutting male and females on every piece.

From contributor B:
I have a sliding table on my shaper and it is easy, but not fast. It takes about 1hr or so to end match 300bdft of flooring including head changeover time. You must clamp down the boards to the table.

From contributor P:
I did a few runs and it is time consuming. What worked best for me was to cut all the edges first, dry clamp a dozen together on a sled and powerfeed the whole thing through. Disassemble, set up the other end, and cut with the other set of cutters. Works fine, but I would never do very much of this. The end was a sacrificial piece due to tearout.

From contributor S:
Get 2 shapers set up with tongue on one, groove on the other, use sliding clamps and go to town. This way of end matching is very slow. If you're doing it for a home project, okay, but if you want to sell flooring, spend the money and buy an endmatcher. There are no shortcuts for doing it right!

From contributor R:
It's really not necessary to endmatch. It's more a marketing thing, in the opinion of a friend who makes high end flooring. It's a perception of what a good floor should have. If you want to do it, get a radial arm saw and tilt the arbor down and stack the tongue and groove cutters on the arbor. Table on the right is higher than the table on the left, so you can run both cutters at the same time. Next step is to use air clamps and an air cylinder to pull the saw. Worked for my buddy for years.

From contributor S:
First off, endmatching is not marketing. It's wood recovery, taking lower grade lumber, defecting the junk out for a better product. The ends have to be square - not close, but square. The only tool that will hold that square is the endmatcher. Shapers and radial arm saws are not endmatchers. If you are going to make flooring, spend the money or stay out of the business; problems and costly mistakes will kill you.

Have you ever seen an AMC Gremlin run a NASCAR race? See my point?

From contributor F:
Contributor R's thoughts seem to make sense. You have a tongue and groove full length on both the long grain edges, so how could the ends do anything but lay flat? The ends will need to be square, but a saw can do that.

From contributor A:
Biscuit joiner...

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the input. I have a lot to think about. A couple of people found out that I was making and installing hardwood in my own place and wanted to pay me to do the same for them. While the extra cash would help cover the costs of some new equipment, I want to be impressed by the result. I also want to know that I could do this as a business. I am not trying to make a million dollars. I just want to make a living doing something I love.

From contributor M:
I am not sure where contributor S is coming from, but a shaper is more than capable of producing square ends. I have seen plenty of production run flooring that was far from perfect. The topic of end machining flooring has been discussed numerous times in this forum, with the consensus being in narrower widths not critical.

Lastly, if you want to produce flooring by any means at your disposal, go for it. There is not a NASCAR driver out there that didn't start by racing mom's Gremlin around the neighborhood.

From contributor U:
After reading this, I thought, I use a single end coping machine from Unique for my door copes. I have two different cutters on it that I can change with the flip of a switch. If you put the 2 cutters needed for end matching on it, it would work great.

From contributor S:
Over the years there have been a few different guys in my area that thought they could make good money making floors. Not wanting to invest the proper money on equipment, they used shapers, routers, and other small equipment.

Having very little overhead, they could sell for less. That part doesn't bother me - it's when they started having problems in the field, poor fit, ends not square. The stories going around got all screwed up, and my name started getting attached to those problems. Some time has passed and they have all folded, making my life easier. We make a very good product, and word of mouth is all we rely on. That is where I'm coming from - not trying to step on anyone's feelings or cast a bad shadow.