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Build a Wood and Slate Basket-Weave Floor: Milling and Joinery

Accurate measurements and a custom tablesaw sled are the keys to well-fitting half-lap joints

The heart pine material that we use is actually a little bit of a mixed bag. We’ve had a few sticks from one job and a few sticks from another, and I used some of that. And I did go out and get some new stock, which I believe came from the inside of bourbon barrels. Those are the ones that had the most character; the older boards tended to be the stouter, more straight-grained ones. But the bourbon barrels really read like heart pine.

So I’m going to use the marks on the edge of the story pole to scribe lines across the edges of the heart-pine boards. The trick though is that the stack of boards needs to be dead square. Several bar clamps hold the stack tight while I make my marks.

Now I’ll lay my boards onto the subfloor one at a time and transfer the “top” and “bottom” notations to the boards so I can accurately cut the dadoes on the appropriate sides of each board. I also marked “A” and “B” on my layout for the alternating boards in the weave. I’ll mark “A” and “B’ on each of the boards to correspond to the weave pattern.

Now that we’ve got the layout on both pieces, we need to cut the dadoes to make the half-lap joints. To make that joint, I’ve built a basic dado sled with the layout marks gauged on the edges.

Holding the boards to the marks on the tablesaw sled, I define one shoulder; I slide the board over and define the other shoulder; and then I clean out the waste in the middle. When I’m done, the lap joint will be half the depth to mate with an identical cut on the perpendicular board.

Once the cuts are made, I use chisels and a block plane to fine tune the joints.





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