Practical techniques

Laying a parquet floor (Part Two)

Not feeling I’d done quite enough to lose my (already too few) readers, I’d thought I’d post an update on the thrilling parquet job I’m doing in my kitchen. As you might remember from the last post’s cliffhanger, I had laid the soldier course and was waiting for that to dry.
Well, it dried.
Ok, so then it’s just a case of filling in with successive rows, in the herringbone fashion. The job is made easier by the fact you can tap blocks up to the dry line of blocks, giving you a reference, however, you do have to watch that you don’t get ‘pattern creep’, with small gaps rapidly becoming larger as the line gradually shifts on the wet glue.
If all goes well, you’ll find you will approach your perimeter ‘glue line’ around the edge of the room. When placing the last blocks, only glue up to that line, although the blocks will overhang. This will be trimmed off later. Remember, two blocks width and 10mm extra. You will find small discrepancies in the block sizes, they are reclaimed after all. If you get gaps of say, 2-3mm, don’t worry, you can fill these during the sanding and sealing process by mixing glue with the sawdust that comes from the sanding. You can also fill most of the depth with a sliver cut from another block, then fill with the glue/sawdust mix. However, if you’re getting gaps of 4-5mm, take the blocks off and try again. Quite often I could see a problem developing with gaps, but then a slightly narrower block bought me back into line.
I’ve now covered most of the main floor and am now taking both ‘zigzags’ left out through two door thresholds. When they are both dry, I’ll lay another string and line the two up to run another soldier course straight down the hall to work off.
Stay tuned for more gripping adventures.

Practical techniques

Laying a parquet floor

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, but as well as having a day job, I’ve been cracking on with laying a parquet floor in the kitchen.
If you’ve never done it, I would definitely say have a go. Like most things connected with woodwork, it’s really all a case of spending a while on preparation.
As I’m laying onto bare floorboards, I’ve screwed 9mm ply down with 25mm screws on 5″ centres, (it really only needs to be 6″ centres, but the floor was a bit wavy). After that you go round the perimeter of the room and mark out 10-12mm from wall. (This is your expansion gap in case the wood moves and will in any case be covered by the skirting when it goes back on).
Then mark out two block widths for the perpendicular ‘ribbon’ of parquet that will run around the edge. All the other parquet is laid first on the floor in herringbone fashion and when you get to the inner line, (two block + 10mm away from wall), that’s as far as you glue up to. The glue is a specialist product which bonds very well not only with the ply sub-floor, but also with the remains of the bitumen on the backs of the blocks.
Once you’ve covered the floor in your herringbone pattern, use a circular saw to cut back to the glue line and lay the outside perimeter blocks. It’s then just a question of sanding, sealing etc.
The blocks are tongued and grooved, so laying them isn’t too hard. Just watch for creep with the pattern running out of true either way. I sighted with a string line, which is essential really. The first course takes a day or two to dry, then subsequent courses should be easier as I can tap blocks up to the ‘soldier course’, knowing they are true.
More soon no doubt.


Helping hands

The weeks headlines are a reminder that some people in the world are dealing with things on a daily basis that are hard for us to even imagine. It’s certainly very easy to get focused on the small things when you don’t have to worry about war, disease, or making your way home through shell-shocked cities.

Helping people out, making their lives little easier without thinking of one’s own interests is something we should all be thinking of.

Just this week I met a gentleman who wanted to pass on a few old tools he didn’t use any more. He took the time to show me some old photos from his past and tell me about his life. As he told me about his early life, loves, cars and his time in the war, the one common link that came up in every story was his unswerving devotion to helping people out who were worse off than him.
Just one of those stories involved driving a poor girl with multiple sclerosis around for her doctor’s appointments and helping her get her shopping. He had lots of other stories about neighbours he used to ‘make sure was alright because he was on his own’, or he would ‘get a bit of supper in for her because her eyes weren’t so good anymore’.

I enjoyed meeting this chap. I left thinking of the selfless way he’s lived his life and wondering who would end up caring for him, (he had already told me had no dependents or family left).

I left after purchasing a few hand tools and a Workmate, which will make my life a little easier, not having a bench. However, my thoughts really were on how daily life has changed so much. Perhaps it’s the structure of our society that there really is little time to think of others outside the family unit. The daily struggle certainly feels like a struggle sometimes, financially perhaps, or just purely in terms of how many things need be done every day. I can’t speak for others, but rarely do I think of how to help others less fortunate than myself. I think I need to do that more, I’m sure it would be appreciated.