Custom Floor #1: Driving myself crazy

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Blog entry by Lee A. Jesberger posted 04-12-2008 10:04 PM 1211 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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We did a floor a few years ago for my sister in law.

She has expensive taste, and wanted a floor that was somewhat different than the norm.

We spent a lot of time a showrooms looking for a floor she was happy with. She narrowed it down to 3/4” hardwood, and was having trouble with choosing between Maple and Brazilian Cherry.

I suggested mixing the two, by using the darker Cherry as a border. Since she is Greek it seemed liked a good idea to do Greek keys in the corners.

We also wanted to do something in the middle section to break up the large field.

We used blue painters tape over her existing wall to wall carpet to show her the exact design we would use. We would leave it for a few days for her to get used to the design, then change it a little and leave it again. After a few tries, we came up with a design she liked, and worked with the furniture in the space, regarding size and layout.

Since the floor is tongue and groove, all of the changes in direction meant milling a groove, or adding a tongue.

The Greek keys and small pieces in the field decoration required a fair amount or work, which we did in the shop.
The floor was drawn on the computer, and printed out. Then we colored coded the border pieces to keep track of which piece was which.

After milling the parts in the shop we painted the backs of the parts to correspond with the colored drawing. Once we started the installation this color coding really helped speed things up. We were able to tell where each part was for without measuring anything.

Lesson learned here: German guy’s have trouble with Greek keys!

It did come out good though and she was very happy with it.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

22 comments so far

View dlcarver's profile


270 posts in 3699 days

#1 posted 04-12-2008 10:13 PM

That’s a lot of work. Looks great Lee!


-- Dave Leitem,Butler,Pa.,

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 3990 days

#2 posted 04-12-2008 10:15 PM

Beauty Lee I know all about the Greek Key thing.
There is a pile of pieces up in the shop for a feature bowl from last year. It looks so simple but the accuracy is a killer. In addition the grain in the pieces has to be all lined or else the chatoyance is annoying.

Good on you for getting yours finished!

What a dandy floor!


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Mark's profile


26 posts in 3700 days

#3 posted 04-12-2008 10:20 PM

Lee, that’s a gorgeous floor! I am wondering – is that made from prefinished hardwood – the kind with microbevels on the edges? I have some of that and was thinking of doing a border, much simpler than yours, but I was worried about temperature and humidity fluctuations causing problems because of the different grain directions? Thanks for any advice you can give,

-- Mark

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Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3948 days

#4 posted 04-12-2008 10:31 PM

Thanks David;

It’s a deceiving project regarding the time involved.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4369 days

#5 posted 04-12-2008 10:34 PM

Lee: A flooring expert also. Truly a man of many talents. A great looking floor.

Is this the same sister-in-law who won’t use her table you made.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3948 days

#6 posted 04-12-2008 10:35 PM

Hey Bob;

My project is in pieces on the floor also! LOL

Yes, those keys can get away from you!

Even a fractional inaccuracy gets multiplied quickly.

The amount of math involved in pre cutting the parts was nuts!

I wouldn’t want to do it again.

Thanks much;


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3713 days

#7 posted 04-12-2008 10:43 PM

Really nice floor, Lee. That’s a nice design and I bet it will get lots of compliments. Be glad they were Greek keys, could have been Celtic Knots.

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3948 days

#8 posted 04-12-2008 10:47 PM

Hi Mark;

Yes they are pre finished and have the micro bevel.

If I remember correctly, we did bevel some edges, and sealed them.

As far as expansion and contraction goes, it is something to keep in mind as your working. Notice around the close up shot near the fireplace we scribed the flooring about a 1/4 away from the stone. This same spacing is used around the entire room.

Also, when nailing the pieces, don’t drive them together too tightly, or it will come back to haunt you for sure.

It’s been a number of years since we did this, and so far, no problem. One other thing to consider is the type of heating system the house has. If it’s hot air heat, it’s very important that it also have humidifier.

Also, letting the pieces acclimate to the room for a couple days is a real good idea.

Hope this helps.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3948 days

#9 posted 04-12-2008 10:52 PM

Hi Karson;

Thanks for the kind words.

No, a different sister in law.

You know that table now has a table pad on it! You know, the kind that’s about a 1/4” thick, and you can’t see through.

That’s very sad. I could have used formica!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3948 days

#10 posted 04-12-2008 10:59 PM

Hi Tenontim;

You mean it could have been worse?

Oh great!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3957 days

#11 posted 04-13-2008 12:17 AM

Great looking job!
I would think the hardest part would be having to work on your hands and knees for all that time.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3948 days

#12 posted 04-13-2008 12:45 AM

Hey Gary,

Thank you, but I think it was the math used to pre cut everything!

I did walk bent over for a week though! LOL


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3791 days

#13 posted 04-13-2008 01:37 AM

Hi Lee,

You are a glutton for punishment aren’t you? You just couldn’t put down a simple maple or bc floor either of which would have been beautiful with a simple contrasting border. :)

This is a gorgeous floor and the bc design add a nice detail to it. I am sure that this is the first thing that visitors notice when they enter the room. This will generate a Wow!!! without a doubt.

Good selection with chosing a prefinished floor. I feel it is the only way to go.

Thanks for the post

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Grumpy's profile


23841 posts in 3820 days

#14 posted 04-13-2008 01:52 AM

Excellent hand crafted job Lee. Beautiful finish.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6851 posts in 3948 days

#15 posted 04-13-2008 02:35 AM

Hi Scott;

I should think by now you would know I am the glutton you speak of.

It does get some wows.

Thanks ;


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

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