Shaper Setup for Tongue-and-Groove Flooring

Tips on setting up to mill hardwood flooring. September 28, 2006

I have a couple of thousand feet of flooring to mill. I would like to run it on my shaper since I have Freeborn T&G cutters. My main concern is an appropriate in/outfeed table. Does anyone have some pictures or illustrations to share about this topic? I want to have about 10' or so of table on each end. Thanks!

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor A:
I don't have advice for your question but I do have one thing as an FYI. Having just remodeled my own kitchen I put down about 250 sq. ft. of W. Oak flooring. I noticed that the tongue and groove on the flooring is a loose joint not snug like my T&G set cuts. I think this is to account for the inevitable movement in the wood so that you can still get the joints together when install time comes, and probably also to allow for play with a not perfectly flat floor. Also the bottoms of the flooring have relief cuts (not sure of correct terminology) running lengthwise.

From contributor B:
If you have a set of T&G knives that allow you a loose fit like Jeff was talking about, you can adjust the tongue so it just slides over the bottom part of the groove which will hold it down and not float. Just check the fit every now and again when milling. As for the in/out feed tables, I don't think you have to be very picky about them. The boards will run through flat. As long the tables are close to the height of your shaper and I assume you have a power feeder, you should be fine.

From contributor C:
Although my experience is limited, I find that the outfeed table height makes no difference in cut quality as long as you are using a power feeder. What are you using to end match the flooring with?

From contributor D:
The biggest problem you have to solve is that the ends need to be exactly the same width, and the only way to do this on a shaper is to affix a fence opposite the cutterhead, so the blanks are run between the fence and cutterhead. Power feeder is an absolute must. Supporting the long blanks is about the easiest problem to solve - anything that will hold them up and not alter their path will do the job. You'll also not be milling the thickness, so marring the faces could be a concern - and what about back relief? I wouldn't want to install paneling on the floor. End-milling has been optional for me, as long as the ends are trimmed square by square. Wide planks should be end-milled or secured in some way. I know a guy who biscuited an entire floor!!

Straightness is always a concern, more so with wide (over 5") flooring. As long as the width is consistent, the narrow pieces can be nailed in tightly, but when you get over 5", some pieces can't forced straight to make tight joints.