Milling my own flooring

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Forum topic by flipflop posted 01-18-2011 07:42 PM 11669 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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37 posts in 3412 days

01-18-2011 07:42 PM

I am going to try to mill my own flooring for my next house. I’m using black locusts for my floor but need to know what tools I would need? I was thinking about buying some good tongue and grove bit for my router and running them on that. Not sure how long the bits will last plowing through hardwood. I need to mill about 500 sq feet of floor. I’m a die hard do it your selfer and plan on tackling this myself. Could you please post tools and links that you think would help me complete this project. I don’t have an endless budget please keep that in mind. Thank you.


12 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10396 posts in 3647 days

#1 posted 01-18-2011 07:50 PM

From what I’ve read it is pretty challenging to get flooring right,
but you might want to get a Belsaw, RBI, or Woodmaster

I don’t know if you can get flooring to install well if you don’t
profile the back.

The tongues and grooves you can do on a router table, but consider
that you’ll be profiling several thousand lineal feet and without some
form of power feed you’ll get very tired doing it.

View flipflop's profile


37 posts in 3412 days

#2 posted 01-18-2011 08:20 PM

Do you think I could profile the under side with my table saw. Not worried about getting tired I have lots of time and enjoy hard work.

View Loren's profile


10396 posts in 3647 days

#3 posted 01-18-2011 08:47 PM

I don’t know what your criteria are – maybe you want rustic
gaps between all the pieces so lineal accuracy doesn’t matter.

If you’re thinking you can duplicate the modern industrial mill product
with a router and a table saw you have no idea what you’re
getting in to. I’ve worked on houses that had wide flooring
beveled inwards at every joint and distressed on top – 3/4” stock
with a ship-lap joint. Even though that flooring was made on
moulders, the required accuracy was a lot less due to the l
non-flat nature of the end result.

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3541 days

#4 posted 01-18-2011 09:00 PM

If you can find a lumber liquidators in your area, you can get some cutoffs from them. You can then copy the milling on them to achieve what you need. It can all be done in different ways, but I would be prone to do it all on the table saw with a stack dado set…

-- Childress Woodworks

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2970 days

#5 posted 01-18-2011 10:12 PM

On average I would say you need to plan to spend about $6.00 per square foot on blades, bits and fried router motors plus the cost of your rough lumber, which may be nearly free, I’m guessing. Then, there is the issue of labor, but you say you have plenty of time, so go for it.

Look at the math: 500 sq.ft. X 144 = 72000 / 3.25” wide boards = 22154” (1846 LF)
So, you will have to mill 4 faces of the boards = 4×1846 LF = 7384 total linear feet of milling. About 1.4 miles. That’s an awful lot to ask of a router motor with a design life of about 50 hours.

I personally don’t think this can be done on any tool with a universal motor, read cheap table saw or router. The bearings and brush life will defeat you.

Using a shaper and /or a moulder, as said earlier, would be the best way to go, but be very carefull of kickback, watch your grain direction closely. And don’t forget to mill an extra 10% for trim and fit losses.

One thing that might help is if you are planning to sand and finish the floor after it’s laid. That will give a good floor finisher a chance to even things up and fill cracks and joints. Will probably be a beautiful floor in the end.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3074 days

#6 posted 01-18-2011 11:55 PM

For cutting tongue and groove, you will get a lot more milage out of a dado set on the table saw than out of a router. Furthermore, the TS motor should be able to handle the work better than a router motor. You should plan on sharpening your dado stack every few hundred linear feet.

If you want a chamfer edge, you can do that with a tilted TS blade as well.

Will you also run these through a planer and/or drum sander? If so, plan on sharpening planer blades and replacing sanding paper on a regular basis.

Good luck

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bertha's profile


13528 posts in 2692 days

#7 posted 01-19-2011 12:08 AM

I considered this. Borrowed time on a massive shaper with a powerfeeder, commercial jointer, planer, etc. I don’t mind hard work either but I gave up after a few hundred feet. I couldn’t get anything over three feet long to properly align. I’d mock up a few boards on the floor & the next morning, they’d be warped.

I wasn’t man enough. Maybe you are. If so, I’d find a powerful shaper with a feeder.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View flipflop's profile


37 posts in 3412 days

#8 posted 01-19-2011 03:45 AM

Lets go about this another way, because I love my router and don’t want to smoke it. If I had $1,500 to spend what would be the best set up for me to mill the flooring. I Like Grizzly tools and would like to lean that way, but If there is a better machine out there let me know. I have a Rigid 13” planner now and it’s a work horse I also have a good table saw and a Bosh Router, so with knowing that can this happen. Thank you for information so fare.

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2996 days

#9 posted 01-19-2011 04:13 AM

I was never afraid of work and I like the fact that I did it myself, I have learned though, sometimes it is better to get others to do certain tasks. Some of those old timers have really good industrial machines, they will do it, next to nothing, just for the sake they love to still be able to. My neighbor has a saw mill, large shaper, all the cutting profiles and he quoted me $24 an hour on small jobs and Few cents a lineal foot on larger quantities. Maybe there is someone like him living close to you. I would stay away form using router…it won’t last.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View FMG's profile


65 posts in 3280 days

#10 posted 01-19-2011 04:35 AM

I am not an expert by any means but I do know a 78 year old flooring guy who has been doing floors for well over 40 years and happens to love woodworking. When I stopped by his house to pay him for the great job he did on my floors, I saw his shop and got a tour. His set up for duplicating hardwood floors was an old craftsman planer moulder and the most important an old Delta shaper with a grizzly power feeder. He gave me a demo…scary machine…..awesome results. Maybe you could find a used shaper on craigslist for 400-600 bucks that would leave you about 1000 for a molder. just a thought.

-- FMG- Woodworking is 90% mental the other half is physical

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3303 days

#11 posted 01-19-2011 04:47 AM

you have gotten some really good advice on here…but in the end it will be you what you decide to do and how you will do it…if you want to go with the 1500.00 approach…i would get a good table saw…and a good stacked dado …i would make sure i use a feather board on the saw on the side and one over the boards to hold them down as they feed…make sure your lumber is dry…and you want it straight and all the same this is if your hell bent on doing this yourself…i built my home..all of it and did wooden floors…but i did plank flooring and screwed it all down and plugged all of the holes…but if i were to do it over again..i would have tand g all of it and gone that rout…the wood was of superior that was a plus…so..if you tackle this project…good luck and have fun…and if it doesnt turn out the way you want…you either live with it… or tear it out and go a different rout ..pergo is nice flooring…lol…....good luck…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View flipflop's profile


37 posts in 3412 days

#12 posted 01-20-2011 05:06 AM

How about this:

This just looks like a super router. I also think I can use this a a jointer and use the planner I have and should be set. Any idea what the cost to sharpen the blades are and how many feet of hard wood I can get out of one blade before changes? thanks

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