Preview - Build a Wood and Slate Basket-Weave Floor: Story Pole and Layout - Fine Homebuilding Video
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Build a Wood and Slate Basket-Weave Floor: Story Pole and Layout

Using a story pole helps to make an accurate layout on the floor and to mark the dadoes on the stock in the exact same position

I use the story pole really as an error gauge, in the same way you would use it as an error gauge against siding, or any other project. What it's going to do is make sure my layout on both sides and either end of this floor are going to be exactly the same because I'm not transferring anything with a tape measure. There are enough joints and enough switching between the joints that there is a lot of room for error. And anything I can do to keep that error to a minimum, I'm going to do.

I'm putting together my story pole. I've marked the center line. I've made a few blocks for the exact dimension of the boards I'm using. I've also got a block set to the width of the tile with grout lines. I'm mostly concerned with the 4-13/16 inches, which is what the wood dimension is. I butt the blocks side by side, then I move them along. I use a very sharp pencil to make the marks on the story pole so I don't lose the width of the cut in the pencil line. I'll use the gauge blocks later to check the fit of the dadoes in the woven floor boards.

Because I'm anal about things, I'm going to color code the labels for the wood and tile marks on the story pole. The critical marks are on the edge of the story pole where I need to transfer my marks to the actual floor boards. I use a combination square to extend the marks around the sides of the story pole. Again, a sharp pencil is essential.

Flip it over and mark the other side, and the story pole is finished.

I've sanded the high spots in the subfloor, and now I'm checking the centerline on the door. I'll align the story pole with that center mark because that's where the entire weave is laid out from, so it's centered on the door when it opens. Then I'll tick mark the lines form the story pole down onto the floor all the way around the room. I should have a perfect square layout that I can build the weave to and map it out.

I drive a nail through my first tick mark, snap through it, and then lay out the last side. I can check my work with the story pole to see if the line I laid out from one side also worked on the other side. And then I make the remaining tick marks. There's just no room for error in this. I'm going to snap more lines to define the border.

Next, in the absence of a helper, I'm going to set nails through my tick marks on two sides and snap lines to create a grid. In one direction I snapped red lines, and in the other direction I used black chalk. That should keep me a little more organized and keep me from making mistakes.

We often use a tip that we picked up from our foundation guys. It’s particularly helpful if your subfloor will be exposed to weather, but it’s great for wear caused by foot traffic too. We spray polyurethane from an aerosol can over the chalk lines to protect them and make them last longer.

Because I’m weaving this floor, it’s pretty easy to forget which piece goes on top and which goes on the bottom. So I’m labeling the entire layout so I don’t make a mistake.

So that’s that. Next I’ll transfer all of those marks to the boards that we already milled up, cut them to length, and start milling the half laps for the weave.

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