Grange floor removal Notes--Oct. 12, 2012

Removing the Hall Floor—Oct. 7 & 8: I sent out a brief report about the very successful volunteer project to remove the original floorboards from the Hall Floor on Sunday and Monday. Here's a little more information, with a list of the volunteers who made it possible. I'm including a direct link to the Grange website photo gallery where you can see pictures of the work in process.

Sunday: We started at about noon on Sunday, after the Church of Christ service. Kurt Giavara and Tim O'Dell began with cutting into the center of the floor, the thinnest part, to find out how it would come up. As Tim said, it was exploratory demolition. We quickly found out that the flooring was nailed down by hand, not by a flooring machine, with 2-1/4” long, round-headed nails. And as we had suspected, there were lots of nails. Tim and Kurt continued cutting an “incision” up the center of the length of the floor. This created a long edge from which to work.
Meanwhile, other volunteers were arriving. A few of us began clearing out the Hall, removing as many of things on the walls as possible: curtains & curtain rods, posters, Grange plaques and pictures, wreaths, photos and more—everything which can catch dust, which we could store in the closets or the attic. There was much dust created during the flooring removal, and will be more when the new floor is sanded, so it was time well spent.
The workers who came on Sunday, in addition to me, Tim O. and Kurt included (in no particular order!): Charlotte McGray, Stephen Wright, Lewis Neill, Mike Ziegler (who brought dust masks and ear-plugs), Joanne Garton, Dave Cain, Nancy Turner, Mike Bald, Ted Scatchard, Laura Arata, Rob Nichols and Stan Carlson.
As more people arrived to help, we experimented with different combinations of tools for removing flooring, and with removing nails. We finally decided, after some conferring amongst ourselves, that nail removal was taking too long to justify the benefits of better stacking, and that careful removal of floorboards that might allow re-use as flooring would also take too long. We found the best way to remove the flooring seemed to be to lift up one end with a pry-bar shoved underneath—and then a good sideways whack with a sledge hammer would knock it loose. This caused as little damage as any other method, and reduced the need to bend far over. With about 180 – 190 rows, 55 feet long, of 2-1/4” wide flooring to remove, that was an important consideration.
About half-way through the afternoon, Ken Gagnon arrived with a trailer load of new flooring, stacked in 2 piles about 40-42” wide x 30” high, and around 12' long. We worked out a “bucket brigade” method of bringing in the boards, stacking them by width (2-1/4”, 3-1/4” and 4-1/4” wide), with tongues pointing outward on each side of the Hall. This will allow the floor-installation crew from Floors Only to work efficiently to lay out the repeating pattern of widths that will cover most of the floor.
By 5:00 or so, we had removed nearly 1/3 of the floor area. Stan and I put in an extra hour in the evening, and made a bit more progress. The photographs in the Photo Gallery ( are dated and numbered in order, so you can get some idea of how the day progressed. I'll be adding more photos taken during the work-days by Patty Giavara, Marj Power and Nancy Turner (and anyone else!) as I get them.

Monday: The next day brought another equally good crew of volunteers—some of the same crew, plus “new blood” (I'm happy to report no injuries during this whole endeavor, apart from a few splinters and scratches—good, careful work by all!). You'll notice some of the names in this list repeat from Sunday: Kurt Giavara, Stephen Wright, Stan Carlson, Mike Ziegler, Lewis Neill, Rob Nichols, Ted Scatchard, Annie Sawyer, Luke Donforth (who took the bus from Burlington to join us), and Hap Winter. If I'm missing someone, please give me a heads-up, and I'll make sure they're recognized for their contributions.
With the knowledge gained during the first day, and some systems set up, we got the entire floor removed by noon on Monday! The photo of the removal of the last board is blurry (my fault) but I hope it exemplifies the teamwork that made this process so fast and effective!
In addition to the floor removal work, we had additional help from cooks and bakers, with soups, muffins, sweet rolls, curried sweet-potato/kale wraps, pasta/tomato/cheese casserole, cider, apples, breads, cookies, La Brioche chocolate cake, and coffee brought by: Gail England, Marj Power, Stephen Wright, Elizabeth Templeton, Alison Forrest, Stan Carlson, Jody Pettersen and me. I know other items were brought as well, but I couldn't keep track—so please give me a heads-up on this as well if I've missed your contribution! We had a celebratory lunch from many of these goodies, and as usual we had the opportunity to get to know each other a bit better. Working and eating together leads to different bonds than meeting briefly in a contra dance line, as many of us have.
After lunch on Monday, there was still work to do: stacking the flooring on the ADA entrance porch at the NE corner, pulling remaining nails from the floor, and whacking down protruding subfloor nails, then shop-vacuuming the whole floor. Many stayed to work on all of this; I'd especially like to thank Lewis Neill and Stan Carlson who worked with me until the end of the day on these almost-final tasks.
Frank Palumbo from Floors Only stopped by during the Monday work, and was pleased to see the great progress, and the good state of the sub-floor. We looked at the new flooring together, and discussed best ways to deal with the knots which are present in a few boards—they will be filled with epoxy by Kurt and me to avoid the need to cut them out. All the boards are “end-matched”, with a cross-grain tongue and groove to index the butt joints. The average length is much greater in the new flooring than it was in the old floor. Those old boards averaged no more than 3' to 4' long, ranging from many 18” boards up to a few 10-footers. The new boards average at least 6-8' long, with only a few short boards and quite a few 12' pieces. These are just my visual averages!
The new flooring also includes some of the inner, brown tinted heartwood, plus a number of pieces with dark “mineral streaks”, which will make for a varied, interesting combination of grain and color when the new floor is laid. The price we paid is a significant discount from “list prices” for this combination of “Select” and “#1” hard maple flooring, all milled from sugar maple.

Tuesday and Wednesday: The next couple of partial days were dedicated to a little trimming at the doorways, to make room for transition boards where the new flooring will run into the old flooring, and a little more clean-up. It's amazing how many old nails could hide in the tongue-and-groove joints of the subfloor! Tuesday also brought the unexpected interview for WCAX. They expressed an interest in doing a follow-up piece after the new floor is down, which will help to publicize the activities of our Grange and our dedication to maintaining and improving the Hall.

What's next? Since we got done so early in the week, Floors Only started work on Thursday, laying out the new floor, though they won't nail anything down until Monday to give the new wood time to acclimate to the Hall. Note—at their advice, we are keeping the Hall heated to 70°, to help the boards transition from outside storage to inside usage. If anyone visits the Hall, please don't re-adjust the thermostat! Our oil bill will be high for this month as we keep the new floor and its new finish warmed for complete curing, but it is important for the high quality of this project to be maintained.
At this time, Floors Only is laying out the center line from which the floor will be laid out, covering the subfloor with 15 # felt paper, and setting out the new floor boards in the pattern of wide-medium-narrow-medium which will be maintained as far as possible.
Monday, Oct. 15th will begin the installation in earnest, followed by sanding, cleaning and finishing with 2 coats of Waterlox Original Tung Oil sealer-finish. This will take a couple of weeks, followed by an additional week of curing time so the Hall will be off-limits to renters' activities for quite a while. We hope that the Grange meeting on Nov. 3rd can be held on the new floor—but we don't want a big dance there until there is more time for curing. I'm sure that we'll all be eager to see the new floor; I'll send out more pictures as the project continues.

Tim Swartz, Master (with everyone's help)
Capital City Grange #469
swartztim15atgmail [dot] com

maybe related?

The Master reports today seeing the first delivery of wood chips to his worksite. From Lathrop Forest Products, sister-company, we think, of Lathrop Maple Products, who produced the new floor.
Maybe it was chips were the by-products of the floor?