Pneumatic hardwood floor nailer leaving marks

Q: My pneumatic hardwood floor nailer sometimes leaves unsightly marks my prefinished hardwood when I am nailing it. Is there something I should put over the plate on the nailer that will prevent it from marking the hardwood?

A: Who is the manufacturer? Primatech has an accessory shoe you can attach. Some guys just put some duct tape on theirs.

Buying a used bostitch air nailer

Q: I’m looking at buying a used bostitch air nailer. Would it be better to buy one that shots staples or nails? Is there any advantage of one over the other?

A: I wouldn’t buy a used one unless you only want to use it for a few installations. They can only be rebuilt a couple of times. I prefer cleats to staples. The holding power of staples is more than adequate. Staples more so. The problem with this is that if there is a moisture issue in the home the staples hold so well they don’t stretch out and allow movement and are likely to break the tongues off the planks.

Plug cutter?

Q: Have you ever heard of a plug cutter that drills a pilot hole for the screw, a countersink for the screwhead, and a plug hole at the same time? I am installing random width, and this plug cutter also has a built in stop to not drill the plug to deep. My father said he used to use one all the time, yet I cannot find one.

A: I’m quite sure I have some counter sink bits somewhere around here that also have “stops” so you can pre set the depth. I also have a few different sizes of plug cutters to cut my own plugs, but they are a separate item. I think I bought all these at Canadian Tire. You might want to try a company called Atlas Equipment.

Is a cleat the same as a nail?

Q: We are installing 1400 sq. feet of 3/4″ X 5″ wide maple prefinished flooring. Would you recommend using a stapler or nailer?

A: I prefer to use cleats. If you have a misfire with a staple, I hear they can be a pain to deal with. Cleats hold just fine.

Follow-up Q: Is a cleat the same as a nail, and if not can you rent a cleat applicator?

A: Yes, a cleat is similar to a nail. They come in strips of 100 nails. See, for example, the web site for Powernail.

Cutting back the nosings

Q: I’ve taken carpet off stairs and am preparing to lay oak on treads and oak veneer on risers. I plan to leave spruce stringers and just repaint them. But I can see that when I cut back the existing nosings of about 1 3/8″ to be flush with riser there will be an ugly gap and rough edge of the existing nosing in the stringer where I cut the nosing back, which will not be fully covered by new solid oak nosing. If I simply sand, wood fill this, and then paint over it, will that work or is there a better technique? Also, what’s the best power tool to use to cut back the nosings so I can get in tight to the stringers?

A: You could leave the cut off end of the existing overhang in the stringer. Just apply some adhesive to keep it stable. This can reduce the amount of patch or fill needed.

I have several tools I use to cut these lips off. A worm drive saw is the fastest for the main length to be cut off. For the last few inches leading up to the stringer I have a tool called a Supercut made by Fein. Or, you could use a jig saw with a special flush cutting blade, or a sawz-all, or a hand saw.

Getting boards on the straight and narrow path

Q: I am installing some new 5/8″ hard wood floors, glue down over concrete. My home has a large floor plan and a large island in the kitchen, while meeting up around the island I noticed the 2 pieces had a slight gap. Unfortunately, I noticed this after the panel was down. I would like to rip down the existing piece to continue in a straight path, and sort of hide the mistake. Do you recommend I do this with a skill saw or router with a straight edge in place as a guide? Any other suggestions?

A: Are you saying you are going to “rip” the board that is glued to the floor? I think I would opt for the Skil saw approach. Make sure the blade is sharp so it doesn’t wander on you.

Removing wood without ripping out kitchen?

Q: My hardwood floors were installed under the kitchen cabinets and have not held up well. I would like to remove them, and install ceramic tiles. How do you remove the old flooring without tearing out the kitchen cabinets?

A: If these floors are 3/4 thick, I would urge you to give the floors another chance. Perhaps a product like Waterlox would work better. www.waterlox.com

If you have to remove them, it is either hammer and chisel around the cabinets or a saw such as I have called a “toe kick” saw. Costs about 4-$500.

Product shelf life

Q: We had a very reputable flooring firm refinish our hardwood floors. I routinely wiped the floors with their cleaner. They used their own products. However, we are devastated with the end result. They put two coats of ***** ***** on the floors; they look mottled like the wax isn’t adhering in some places. I noticed that there product containers were covered with thick dust like they had been stored a long time. I realize patent dates can change but the small date like 1/91 wasn’t a patent date but printed on the label. One had a patent date of 1987; could these outdated product possibly of caused this mottled look; it is in all areas of the flooring over 700 sq. ft. We had a large area rug and it looks the same in that area as the halls. I read online that there is a shelf life of like 2 years if unopened; it look like one container of shine had been opened; not quite full.

A: All products have a shelf life which is shortened once the product is opened. These products you name are for acrylic impregnated floors. Is that the type of flooring you have? Fortunately they also have a Remover. I would be on to the manufacturer about it.

Type of sander and paper for sanding pine stair treads

Q: What is the best type of sander and what are the best grades of paper to use for sanding pine stair treads before refinishing? How can I get right to the edges of the treads? Would a detail sander be useful for the last stage?

A: It really depends what is on the pine treads. Is it paint? Use stripper. Then a hand scraper and half sheet orbital sander. A professional edger sander is really intended for professional use in spite of the fact they can be rented by the DIY person.

How to nail trim

Q: I have done a few floors for friends and relatives and have always finished off the last few rows that you can’t get to with the nailer, by hand with finishing nails, hammer and punch. This is very laborious and time consuming. I’m about to lay about 2000 square feet for myself and would like to know what the pros use to do this job. I assume they use some sort of pneumatic brad/finish/staple gun. If so, I would like to go out and buy the best one. What do you recommend re: how to nail trim, and what size and type of nails or staples should it handle?

A: I use a Stanley trim nailer to finish up near the walls, but there is still a row or 2 that need to be blind nailed into the tongue until I can use the nailer again on the floor face near the wall. It can use, I think, 1 1/2 up to 2″ at 15 gauge. Powernail Company makes a nailer that can get very close, and is just for finishing up near the walls. Check out their web site. Probably, www.powernail.com.

Kick saw

Q: I am in the process of removing my existing hardwood floors and have a problem. The floor that I am removing is in the kitchen and runs underneath existing cabinets. How do the cut the floorboards where they go under the cabinet? I have a 3 1/2 inch high kick plate at the bottom of the cabinets and cannot fit a sawsall or any other cutting tool that I am aware of underneath the kick plate.

A: I use what is called a toe kick saw made by Crane. Of course, most homeowners would not find this practical, to spend $500 for a tool they will use once. This saw will cut very close to the kick boards, but you may have to use a chisel for the last few inches.

Orbital or drum sander

Q: I installed wide plank (3/4×10″) poplar T&G flooring in my cabin 4 years ago. I finished with three coats of water based **** polyurethane, (no stain). I am disappointed with the floor and plan on re-finishing it. It is dull and heavily marked in high traffic areas. I plan on staining then using oil based ****** gloss polyurethane as a finish. The question I have is this: What type of sanding machine do you suggest I use–orbital or drum? I am nervous about using the drum sander due to it’s aggressiveness on this soft species of wood, however I can’t seem to get much info on the orbital sander and it’s recommended applications, (will the orbital machine remove all of the old polyurethane)? Also what final finishing grit would you recommend?

A: Never used one of those big orbital rental sanders, but have heard they do a decent job, though slower than a professional sanding machine, which you certainly would not have access to from a rental store. I don’t know why you would not call in a pro for this project, but if you insist on doing it yourself, you are far and away, better off with the orbital machine. I would finish with 100 grit.

Belt sander problems

Q: Nice site, very informative. I run a small hardwood floor company out of North Carolina in the U.S. I am recently on my own but have been in the business for 15 years. I have purchased a ****** belt sander which runs great but severely digs out the soft grain in the wood, especially red oak, resulting in a rippling effect across the whole floor. Cutting on an angle has no effect and the waves get worse with each successive pass. I have had the machine serviced several times and they can find nothing wrong, also replaced belts, bearings, roller arm, etc.The Waves are not really visible on bare wood but come out when finish or stain is applied and under low angled lighting. I have been able to lesson the problem significantly by using a buffer with a hard plate , followed by screening. This process produces good results but the hard plating ads significant time to the job. any suggestions on this problem would be greatly appreciated as I am some what fanatical about doing a high quality job and although no one else seems to notice these imperfections, I do and it`s driving me up a wall…

A: Hey, I have the same machine and believe me, I do understand how you feel. I recently took mine in because on certain jobs I was noticing that the edges of the drum were cutting into the floor and leaving grooves. And as you say, you may not notice such things until you start applying the finish. With every coat the problem looks worse. You are getting chatter marks and waves. They have this spring you can pull up on a control rod. This is for easing off the pressure on the drum. They have told me not to pull this up too far or it will cause chatter.

I have the luxury of being ten minutes from the factory where this machine is made, and in fact know the owner and his family. When they checked my drum, they placed it on a level aluminum surface and ran it without a belt. They gently lowered it onto the plate and discovered that it was cutting on the edges before the center of the drum touched. He then set it over an abrasive and gently ground the drum until the edges were the same as the middle. In effect the drum was now flat. Maybe doing the same check could reveal a problem with the drum.

I will give you their number, so you can call them directly. Ask for *******
(the owners son) or ********* (a mechanic in the plant) or **********, the
owner. Ask for James first.

Toll free: xxx-xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxx-xxxx. They make the machine. They ought
to be able to help you.

Make sure your wheels are clean, and blow out the guide roller and other belt mechanisms after or before every job.

Please let me know what you find out.