October 2009

Now that I’ve had a few days to look at my parquet square, I’ve decided that I like it.  It helps that so many others have said the same.  Last night, I decided that the old-school pattern was boring so I chose another to try.  As is my usual wont for overcomplicating EVERYTHING, the pattern I chose has a 45 degree miter ON EVERY SINGLE PIECE. There are about 20 pieces in every tile and most pieces have a two miters; one on each end. 

All I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time because it looks cool.

Still, I enjoy the process and as with all hobbies, it doesn’t matter how much time it takes.  I just feel a bit silly looking at it from an objective distance.  I won’t stop though.

Last night, I was trying to tool up for all these miters. The thing is that each of these pieces needs to fit exactly – to within the proverbial gnat’s eyelash.  Anything less or more and the whole thing becomes skewed and you have an EPIC FAIL.  So I have to be able to make fine adjustments.  Plus you need to be able to cut these without also cutting off your finger on the saw.  To this end, I completed a little table saw jig and set to work.  Then, the in-laws came over and I had to stop.  Dammit.

I’ll take up the task again tonight hopefully. 

I’m not terribly good at seeing the big picture.  I like the way this looks but I don’t really have a feel for how it goes with everything else in the house as far as color and style is concerned so I don’t know if it will work for actually covering any of the floors – even those small areas near the front and back doors.

For now though I think these things look awesome.  All those miters are going to get tiresome soon.  If I had to do an entire floor, I’m not sure how long it would take.  Probably not as long as I think.


Parquet Floor Tile

Originally uploaded by gregwest98

I set to work with great gusto on my parquet flooring project on Saturday. I had my bandsaw set up already and so I sawed up the remaining wood and ended up with a rather impressive pile of thin slabs which I sawed into strips on the table saw. I then got set up to cut these into smaller pieces of the correct length. At long last, I had a pile of pieces from which I could assemble one tile.

I glued these to a piece of plywood which was my substitute for the actual floor. After getting these down, I realized a slight mistake. I was making the classical woodworker noob mistake: I was relying on my own measurements rather than measuring one piece against another. At any rate, the length was off slightly which, when stacked up with the other pieces, amounted to a slight gap in the middle which admittedly is not usually noticeable when the tile is on the floor. Still, lesson learned.

One can never achieve absolute thickness consistency when doing things the way I was doing them so the resultant tile was a bit rough with the minute changes in height from one piece to another. That is easily remedied by sanding. Most of my mistakes in life can be traced to impatience and so I was again guilty of trying to hurry things along by using a sanding disk in my angle grinder. So the tile is wavy. Again, not really noticeable until you run your hand along it.
I put some shellac on it to see how the color and grain would come out and so I was done. The wavy grain that you find in wood from the branches of trees is really pretty and walnut has a very rich color when you put a finish on it. Still…

I’m not sure how well I like the color – it’s a bit dark for my taste. It’s pretty classy looking to be sure but I’m not sure how it would look to have these all over the floor near the front door. I’ll have to think about it and solicit Mel’s opinion. I intend to assemble one in a different pattern too to see how that looks.

This goes back to the big ice storm a few years back.  A friend was called by one of his neighbors who had a huge walnut tree fall into her yard.  She had already had it bucked into firewood length chunks but it was otherwise intact.  He went and gathered it all up.  He and another friends figured out how to take these large pieces, take the bark off, and saw them up into large pieces of about four to six inches in size and set them aside to dry.

He gave me one or two recently since a) he can’t figure out exactly what to do with such short pieces of hardwood and b) he’s a nice guy.  Plus I gave him my film scanner.

Not long ago I saw an article in Fine Woodworking about using scraps to make parquet flooring.  *DING*  I thought “Let’s make some walnut flooring!”

So last night I began.  I jointed one side and when it was flat I turned it 90 degrees and made the mating side flat and square.   Thank goodness for that nice jointer I have (although I’m getting a bit of snipe on the back edge of each piece which I can’t figure out – better get out the manual).  I then took these to the bandsaw.  I raised my guide as high as it would go.  I had attempted to build a rip fence some time ago and I installed this and sliced my first slab off.  This same friend had also given me his old bandsaw blade when he upgraded to a larger saw a couple of years ago and this blade is special – it has carbide teeth.  I had never seen such a thing before and as far as I know they are only available from Iturra who has no web site to shop from so I don’t know how much it cost but it must have been a lot.  It made quick, easy work out of slicing through a four inch chunk of seasoned hardwood.  I’ve seen mature walnut like this slow down a table saw so this is no small thing.

 It was then that I found that my homemade rip fence was not square to the table.  Note to self:  measure a little more carefully in the future.  The first slab was a bit thick so I moved the fence to make it thinner and sawed it again, slicing off an amazingly thin slab.  It was awesome – good tools are wonderful.  I took this thin slice and shimmed up my fence and was all ready to saw more slabs – square this time.

I went back and forth from the bandsaw to the jointer; slicing a slab then smoothing out the freshly sawn side of the big chunk until I had a nice pile of stock – about 5/16” thick.  Just thick enough to put everything together and then run it through my friend’s thickness sander and leave it at ¼” thick. 

Now, on to sawing this into strips from which I can assemble one 10 inch floor tile sized piece of parquet flooring.  I can’t wait.

I was so excited by this that I ended up feeling as if I had chugged one of those gigantic cups of Starbuck’s coffee and thus had a very hard time getting to sleep.  Perhaps I’m getting a bit too excited by this.  It’s only wood after all.

Mel’s back.  And thank goodness for that.  Not that Erin and I can’t get along by ourselves; it’s that we don’t want to.  This brought me too close to that awkward “married but not living with your spouse” demographic.  That’s just too much trouble to explain and not particularly pleasant to experience.

It’s very similar to why I refused to name our children with names that are the least bit ambiguous.  It’s too much trouble.  Likewise, I would never want to live on “Rohr Road”.  It has two problems.  First, there are too many “r”s.  Say that three times fast and you sound like an old pickup that won’t start.  But most of all, for your entire life you’d have to tell people you live on “Rohr road – R-O-H-R – pronounced like ‘roar’”.  That’s just too much trouble.  You shouldn’t have to spell everything for others all the time.  Make life easy on yourself; live in places that are easy to pronounce and spell, and name your kids names that require no further spelling or gender specification.  Oh, and live with your spouse.


Mel’s back in town.  Her mom is still not recovering like we’d hope but it’s someone else’s turn to go sit and wait in the hospital for awhile.  Life for us is back to normal and normal is good.

So far, with Mel in Fort Smith and Erin and I here at home, things have gone well.  Of course, things usually take longer than a couple of days to fall apart even if they’re prone to falling apart.  We can take care of ourselves though.  I say that although I have yet to actually plan the meals for a week ahead and shop for the stuff.  Mel made sure we were outfitted with provisions before she left.

The first day, I was pretty much in bed with a cold.  I didn’t feel that bad but I was afraid it might blossom into the flu.  I don’t know how bad the epidemic actually is because the new media is making quite a hoorah out of it.  We even get periodic schoolcast messages on our phones from the school district reminding us all to wash our hands all the time.  Well, I do and still got a sniffle.  The sniffle gone though and I had a very pleasant day napping and watching movies.

I wish this stupid sciatic nerve pain would go away.  It is in my nature to always want to do that which is forbidden and now that I find it painful to bend over I find myself wanting to do all sorts of things that involve bending over.  I need to just lay flat when I can and get past this thing.   For the first time ever I’ve gotten one of those highly adjustable chairs at work and tinkered with it to make it more comfortable to sit at my desk. 

Erin had a boy over one evening for dinner and to “read lines” for the upcoming play although I was not conscious of a whole lot of that going on.  It was mostly goofing around since they both knew that fall break began the next day and there was no real homework to be done. 

She took the PSAT yesterday morning and we’re all hopeful that she raised her score a couple of points which would put her in solid National Merit contention.  Even at a school as big as ours, there are still only ever about eight National Merit Scholars.  Competition is fierce but I remain hopeful.

I also remain hopeful that Mel’s mom can stay off the respirator and finally begin her recovery.  Erin and I can do fine for awhile longer and worry about the truly important things. 

Eventually I will have to tackle the truly hated tasks: laundry and grocery shopping.  But that’s another day.

Erin had an actual car date Saturday night.  It went fine for her but the guy had some issues.

It all started with a party announcement.  It was also announced that alcohol would be present.  We therefore quickly nixed Erin’s attendance.  Then this guy asks her to go to dinner with him after rehearsal.  They decided to come over to our house afterwards to watch a movie.  Word got out. 

Apparently there were a few others that would have preferred not to go to the booze party although that one was emphasized not to be a wild party.  Still Erin found herself host to about eight others who tried to call it the “anti-party” until Erin shushed that up.  She didn’t want to set herself up against the popular girl who was hosting the other one.

So, they headed off to dinner – the guy, perhaps realizing that their moments alone would be few, apparently got nervous.  He left his cellphone on the outside of his car and it flew off at first motion.  He didn’t locate it till later since somebody found it and it ended up way across town.  They had dinner at a local place where one of Erin’s friends works as a waitress.  So Erin had a “wingman” in the house.  Then when they got done and were ready to leave, he discovered that he had locked his keys in his car.  He called his family (on Erin’s phone) but discovered that they were at the fair.  I had to go get them.  Kinda funny from a parental point of view but I’ve done similar things and so I was sympathetic.

The group all showed up and watched movies and did other stuff until midnight or so.  I guess that was all a success.

Mel has returned to the hospital in Ft. Smith. Her brothers spent last week there with their mom and now it’s her turn again.  Her mom is still on the respirator although she has had episodes where they’ve turned it off and pulled the tube.  Still, she seems to be recovering very slowly although her doctors haven’t said anything about her recovery being slow.  It’s the sort of thing that hangs over everybody’s head all the time.

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