Tongue and Groove Joint: 3 Techniques
to Create your Hardwood Floor Panels
The tongue and groove joint has proved itself
over centuries to be very simple, clean and strong. Popular uses for this joint
are in the creation of doors, panels, and table tops. Another function for this
joint is seen in hardwood floors. Unlike the other examples given, hardwood
flooring is created solely with tongue and grooves linking one panel to the
other. Because the joints run the length of the panel and are linked to one
another, hardwood flooring is simple to assemble and remains very strong and
sturdy over the years.
There is nothing better to bring warmth to a
home than hardwood flooring.
Hardwood floors fit easily in most, if not all types of homes and décor.
Not only does it enhance and bring elegance to a room, but it is also timeless.
Hardwood floors are durable, add value to your home, create an environment
where dust does not collect over time, and there is an endless choice of woods
There are a few options in the market when
covering your floor with hardwoods. All things considered, there is no better
way to cover a floor than to do it by yourself. From hand selecting the lumber,
to air drying it, to milling and installing, the benefits are not just the
feeling of accomplishment but saving money as well. Having a company cover a
floor can seem like another mortgage. It is a very labor-intensive and tedious
task, but as a wood worker, how can one hire someone else to do the work?
3 techniques in cutting tongue
and groove joints for your floor panels
There are many different techniques in
cutting tongue and groove joints. Depending on one’s shop tools, and the
quantity of boards there are different recommendations as to which technique is
best. Most of your decision making as to which technique to use depends on two
variables: your shop tools and the quantity of boards needed to mill.
Tongue-and-groove joints are commonly
made on a table saw. But with the right bits, the joints can be made just as
easily and more efficiently on a router table or a shaper.
With these three possibilities deciding
which method to take would depend first on your tools.
A table saw is very powerful, and when cutting numerous boards can prove to be reliable
in the long run. The advantage to
a table saw is that your cut will be completely clean and sharp, giving your
joint a nice fit. The major disadvantage in using a table saw is that your
boards need to be cut using multiple passes. Additionally, both the tongue and
groove need to be cut at different times.
option is to use your router table. An option which gives less power than the table
saw, yet the need to pass your boards through multiple times is alleviated.
With the right flooring
router bits and a few test passes with
minor adjustments, one can create numerous identical tongue and groove joints. Of
course the disadvantage to the router option is power. If one is milling a
large quantity of boards for hardwood floors, a router will take a real beating
and wear and tear on any tools is not recommended.
The third option is to use a shaper. A shaper, with a flooring
shaper cutter set. A shaper enables a
technique very similar to using a router table allowing you to make one pass
completing the cut. The difference is that the shaper has the power needed to
work all day.
Most woodworkers are restricted to what
techniques we can use because of lack of resources, i.e. proper tools. In an
ideal world without these restrictions, the best method in cutting tongue and
groove joints for floor panels is through the shaper. Not only will the shaper
be able to handle the quantity of boards, setting it up is simple. Both the tongue
and groove is passed through just once and gives it a beautiful and strong
factory-like fit. It takes all of the guess work out.
After many years of having a hardwood floor,
one can experience all types of damage. Whether it is light starched, gouges,
water damage, boards lifting up…etc. Kids especially put a lot of wear and tear
on hardwood floors.
There was one customer I had that lived in an
old colonial home in central NJ; a historical and very well-kept beautiful
home. The kitchen cabinets were made from old cherry with a gorgeous patina
which showed that it lived a very long, yet delicate life. What wasn't so
beautiful, and the reason I was there, were the oak floor boards, which were in
shambles, found directly under the sink; obviously damaged through many years
of water falling from the sink.
The client needed to have these boards
replaced without losing the integrity of the old floor. We decided immediately
that factory boards were out of the question. What we needed to do was to locate
old growth oak, cut boards from it, create a tongue and groove joint to match
the existing boards, install it and then age it to match.
I took a couple of good boards that
surrounded the bad ones to my shop. I planed my new boards to thickness and with
my shaper and shaper cutters, I was able
to get a very close match to the old tongue and groove joints. Just a few
minutes of hand work and they were as good as the original boards.
When installing them, I had to keep just one
side of one board without a tongue for the board needed to drop in. With a
strong adhesive on the bottom, it would sit secure for another century or two.
Now was the fun part. Not only did I need to
match the patina, but also the color and finish. After playing around with
color pigments, I was able to get something very close. After coloring it, I
took out my keys and began to throw and scrape them a bit until I gained the
amount of wear which had built up for so many years. Good as new (or old)!