3″ Deep, Cigarettes & the Maneater


With the plaster complete (gosh it’s gorgeous), we are in a mad dash to get the floor ready for the new 3/4” oak floor – the material arrives on Thursday.

Plan A: Yank all the staples from the current underlayment. Level it. Put the new oak over that.

Why Plan A sucked hind warts: The linoleum tiles wouldn’t let the staples go.

Plan B: Remove the linoleum tile and its underlayment.

Why Plan B is when the matador battles the blind cobbler: Another 20 cubic yards of garbage. And two days of sawing underlayment and yanking it out.

So I hired a local carpenter/musician to help me – Mike Sadoff. And he’s a frickin’ worker bee. After two days of work we are ahead of schedule. After we pulled off all the modern layers we made it to the original yellow-pine floor. (I measured how much crap we have pulled out since September; it’s almost 3” of thickness.)


And we found that in the front room, the floorboards run diagonally. (Yes, it’s the original floor and not the subfloor. The subfloor runs vertical to the long axis of the building. This true floor is diagonal and is over that. And it has finish on it.)

The diagonal changes the feel of the whole room. It draws the eye right to the bar.

So I called the floor installers. Can you put my floor in on the slant? Yes. But it will cost an extra $900.


I said yes, and I think I’ll have to sell some tools to make this happen.


Two other fun events today: We removed the bar’s original side door, which is bricked over. The door is a gorgeous Victorian example. Original paint. And a cool Chesterfields cigarette sign to boot. We’re going to remove the bricks and put it back as-is. Too awesome.


Second fun event: This building is a man-eater. Mike was repairing the rotted subfloor by the bar and it swallowed him up – trying to take him to the basement. He survived unhurt.

Tomorrow, Mike, John and I are going to finish installing the underlayment. And then drink a gallon of beer each.

— Christopher Schwarz

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42 Responses to 3″ Deep, Cigarettes & the Maneater

  1. nateharold says:

    Man, that door looks hip. Those massive dips in the floor… might have to add more shims so you’re not bouncing around.

  2. rwyoung says:

    3″ Sep, cigarettes and the mandated sounds like my last blind date.

  3. jfreitasmn says:

    I know the joy that is found in removing layer after layer of flooring. There are five in my kitchen. One of them is carpet, and it’s not the top one.

  4. The joys of reno on an old building! When we re-did my grandparents farmhouse we picked up a little over 6 inches in the floor, lost 3 inches in the walls and I picked up 3 spike holes in my left foot when I went through a piece of flooring. Fun times, glad you made me remember that.

  5. Did you consider refinishing the pine floor, or is it too far gone?

  6. fitz says:

    Do NOT hurt Mike. I will be most annoyed.

  7. I know we’re all into wood here, but that brick archway is the business.

  8. pogo930 says:

    My mom smoked Chesterfields, in the car. Cigarette smoke STILL makes me sick to my stomach and I’m 66.

  9. Ken Smith says:

    It looks like the fastener on the Chesterfield sign is a tamper-proof style. Sign theft?

  10. potomacker says:

    I can understand a slightly higher cost for installing on a slant due to extra material loss but $900 seems like a charge meant simply to dissuade you from asking. And what caused that enormously dips in the SYP flooring? woodrot or piers settling? Those aren’t shims; those are gussets. Who knew that beer and beerguts could be so heavy?

  11. Mike Siemsen says:

    When my son was about 3 years old I had the floor torn up in the kitchen. He fell through between the joists and caught himself like a gymnast on the parallel bars. I hauled him up by the suspenders on his bibbed overalls, he looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t tell mom!”.

  12. toolnut says:

    Are there also multiple ceiling layers hiding a cool tin ceiling?

  13. Read somewhere some years ago about the orientation of wooden floors. Perhaps its common knowledge to you? Not sure how true but the psychological aspect makes sort of sense. Will try to explain in my broken English. When you enter a room (or shop) and the planks are installed across from the entrance, it is less inviting sub-consciously than it would have been, had it been installed running away from the entrance. Whenever I go shopping, I still tend to glance at the floors and most often the floors had been laid like that.
    Re-reading my post I should perhaps rather send pictures……
    Cape Town

  14. kendewitt608 says:

    You are just having too much fun with this !
    It reminds us all of monster projects we did in the past.

    And swore we would never do again.

  15. Chris, I think the subfloor is perpendicular to the joists, though vertical would be cool. Kinda like an Escher drawing. I hope the installers are going to lay the new diagonal flooring opposite to the original – you know, for that bomb proof effect. BTW, the house I grew up in, in Louisville, had hand hewn joists under the oldest section of the building. Built in 1802.

  16. ctregan says:

    Most wood floors installed these days end up looking like parquet floors because they use so many short boards. Diagonal is nice though; changes the room completely.

    • I know what you mean! When I laid oak floors in my last house, I ordered 20% more material than necessary and just tossed most of the pieces under 16″. They made good kindling. Looks so much nicer with longer boards, but most people wouldn’t notice, or care if they did notice. The original oak floors from the 1940’s had some 10-footers!

    • tsstahl says:

      Modernity: people are taller, boards are shorter. 🙂

    • You can’t believe how many people love the look of short boards. The think it “pops” when the light is hitting it. I think it looks like they raided the scrap bin.

  17. gblogswild says:

    That door is awesome. I also love brick (brick or stone, I just can’t decide for myself). I’m going to have to visit to give you money and walk away with books just so I can see the finished building.

  18. indelicatow says:

    That is a gorgeous old door. How do you plan on refurbishing it, sanding down the wear and old finish?
    I have a massive old wooden door myself, carved on one side, and that is the approach I’ve thought up. Curious how someone else would handle it.

  19. As someone who has worked in all sorts of home building areas and renovations, 900$ is not outrageous. The additional material may account for some but the amount of work it takes to be tweaking mitre angles along the walls the entire time is easily underestimated. Seems like a small thing but over a space that size it makes sense. Lookin great!

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