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 Post subject: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sat 15, 2019 7:30 pm 
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Location: Buffalo NY
My brother just got finished redoing the dining room floor in his historic house, built sometime between 1823 - 1829. Can anyone identify what type of wood it is? Nobody he's asked seems to have any idea. It is unknown when this floor was installed, it's quite possibly original. He said it was hard as a rock to sand, and was very light in color. He used Varathane "Early American" stain in the pictures. The house has a pretty colorful history.
https://www.buffalorising.com/2012/04/p ... -jr-house/


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Nathan_Comstock_Jr._House_2015.JPG
Nathan_Comstock_Jr._House_2015.JPG [ 323.22 KiB | Viewed 580 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sat 15, 2019 7:33 pm 
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Location: Haledon, NJ, usa
Maybe... Maple?

Here's some Canadian Silver Maple:
Image

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sat 15, 2019 7:40 pm 
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Location: Buffalo NY
That was what I thought - maybe Rock Maple - but someone he asked said they didn't think it was Maple, so I figured I'd toss it up for debate among the most knowledgeable group I know of....Like I said, he said it was like sanding concrete, and he blazed through sanding supplies, yet it sponged up the stain and poly - it took somewhere around 3 gallons of each.

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sat 15, 2019 7:41 pm 
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Location: Buffalo NY
I think that's it!

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sat 15, 2019 8:55 pm 
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I see some nice sections of curly maple and a little birdseye in the first picture. There is some curly in the second. The third picture is probably maple, but is modern. Beveling and micro beveling began about 30 years ago with engineered flooring. It is also done on prefinished solid wood flooring. In both cases the flooring can't be sanded after it is laid, so to hide the lack of flatness the edges are beveled. The planks are also narrow and short.

Narrow became normal after 1900 and short is now common in "character" flooring which has some curl or other fancy grain. So, my guess is that none of it is antebellum. The exterior picture shows the rear portion is the old part of the house and it probably had wide planks originally. The front section is newer, probably contemporary with the narrow planks.

I'm currently working on a bird's eye maple countertop, finished splitting the last of a group of 36" to 40" maple logs that contained far to much curl, by hand, and laid a walnut ceiling with unsanded solid flooring, for a rustic look. I can attest to the extreme hardness of curly maple, even if not rock, and the lack of flatness in unfinished wood flooring. The bird's eye caused me to buy a new table saw.

John


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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sat 15, 2019 9:22 pm 
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Location: 13 Critchley Avenue, PO Box 36, Monteith Ont, P0K 1P0
My first vote would have been Maple, followed by possibly Butternut (white Walnut) except that Butternut is not really hard.


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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sat 15, 2019 10:10 pm 
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Location: Gretna, Nebraska
I am voting maple as well.

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sat 15, 2019 11:12 pm 
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I believe John wins the prize. How the floor was nailed, and the type of nail, would date it within a few decades. I've seen many older houses that were updated during the Depression to accommodate multiple families. My grandfather converted a single family house into a two family at that time. He used second hand lumber, doors, windows, etc. I remember the upstairs dining room floor distinctly. It was a mixture of oak, chestnut, and maple. The dark varnish blended everything together, but the grain depth/patterns were still visible.

Dan

PS to John - - - Hand splitting hard maple? That's right up there with hand ripping locust or hedge apple for fence rails . . . . :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sat 15, 2019 11:26 pm 
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SparkyDan

I once had a 30 ton splitter, but it was too much work for anything but elm. Moving a 3 or 4 foot diameter log or a 30 ton splitter to get them together wastes a lot of energy. I do use a maul and a couple of wedges. Curly maple is a lot like granite.

John


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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sun 16, 2019 1:33 am 
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Location: Buffalo NY
The main portion of the house (stone) is the original house 1823 - 29. (where the dining room is). The wood addition to the right in the picture was built sometime around the civil war era - they actually built it bisecting the original well... You can see it in the basement near the cistern - half of it, anyway.... The rear "dorm" section was built about 1907, when the house was used as an orphanage by the International Order of Odd Fellows, until the early '40s. In the original layout of the house, the current dining room would have been the kitchen - they blew out the big kitchen fireplace at that end of the house to make the pass through into the wood addition - or "new" kitchen. When the house was gutted, you could see how they skimmed the stone walls with mortar from the inside, wallpapered the upper half and wainscoted the lower. I think if that floor was done in the "recent" past, It would have been during the renovations to make it an orphanage, but it looks much older in person - My sister in law's family bought it when the orphanage closed just before WWII, and it was in the famiy ever since. It sat vacant for many years, then her great aunt was going to do something with it in the mid '80s, that fell through and it sat vacant again until she died and my brother and SIL got it in about 2011...

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sun 16, 2019 2:31 am 
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Location: 44035 (Near Cleveland Ohio)
Gorgeous house. It's great to see that it's being preserved - - and used!

Dan


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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sun 16, 2019 2:51 am 
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Location: Buffalo NY
"A former resident, Phil Reed, now 97 years of age, lived in the orphanage as a child. From Maryland, Phil and his daughters take the seasonal trip to 299 Old Niagara Road and are now welcomed by the Jones family. Phil stops every year to share his stories about living in the orphanage and to visit his sister’s grave in Royalton Mountain Ridge Cemetery. Mr. Reed reports his time spent in the orphanage as positive although, tragically, his sister passed away while living at the home. One of his visits is chronicled in the Union Sun & Journal’s Faces & Places magazine, December 2015 edition."


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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sun 16, 2019 4:21 am 
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Location: Simonton, Texas
Looks like Maple to me and I am jealous as that floor will out last all of us.

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Sun 16, 2019 11:27 pm 
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Location: Buffalo NY
Thank you for the input everybody.

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Mon 17, 2019 1:19 am 
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Location: Sunbury, Ohio 43074
Any possibility it's Chestnut? Tough to tell in a photo but almost looks like it could be.

Regardless, it's a gorgeous floor. Some real gems hidden under decades of abuse and sometimes paint. I had a painted floor done for one of my tenants that had carpet over grey paint. Turned out to be wide plank tight grain Oak circa 1900. When they move out I may <ahem> reclaim the floor for my living room. ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Mon 17, 2019 2:13 am 
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It is definitely possible....Anything is possible over the course of almost 200 years. The original builders' brother owned a lumber mill further up the canal, which is probably why a house that size has no load bearing walls, and you could drop a marble anywhere and it won't roll. The joist timbers are rough cut 14x3's(!) on 12" centers! The main stairway treads and handrail/spindles/newel are Black Walnut which is believed to have come from trees on the property - there are still a lot of Black Walnut trees on the property, as well as Chestnut.

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Mon 17, 2019 9:45 am 
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Location: Sunbury, Ohio 43074
"back in the day" a lot of homes were indeed made from trees felled and milled on the property

One of my buildings is a turn of the century hardware store, complete with all those nifty cabinets and drawers along one wall. It too has 14x3 rough cut joists on 12" centers. The flooring is the style of the times.... boards laid diagonally as a sub floor, then the floor of tight grain oak. I still haven't decided whether or not to do the floor over or leave it beat up with a century of traffic. It's supposed to be this summer's project.

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Mon 17, 2019 1:26 pm 
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Location: 13 Critchley Avenue, PO Box 36, Monteith Ont, P0K 1P0
andyjon100 wrote:
The main stairway treads and handrail/spindles/newel are Black Walnut which is believed to have come from trees on the property - there are still a lot of Black Walnut trees on the property, as well as Chestnut.


When I saw the floor photos, my first thought was Walnut, but then I wondered who would waste figured Walnut on floors. That's why I mentioned Butternut (aka: white walnut, formerly plentiful, now endangered, but similar grain and figure to Walnut). Walnut isn't always dark, and now I wonder ... if it was/is so plentiful on your place ... maybe that's what's on the floor ... especially if a sawmill was available?


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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Tue 18, 2019 7:54 am 
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Joined: Mar Thu 13, 2014 1:29 am
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Location: Buffalo NY
John Bartley wrote:
andyjon100 wrote:
The main stairway treads and handrail/spindles/newel are Black Walnut which is believed to have come from trees on the property - there are still a lot of Black Walnut trees on the property, as well as Chestnut.


When I saw the floor photos, my first thought was Walnut, but then I wondered who would waste figured Walnut on floors. That's why I mentioned Butternut (aka: white walnut, formerly plentiful, now endangered, but similar grain and figure to Walnut). Walnut isn't always dark, and now I wonder ... if it was/is so plentiful on your place ... maybe that's what's on the floor ... especially if a sawmill was available?

The darkness of the floor is the color stain he used - "Early American". The floor when sanded out was actually quite light in color. When that floor was laid would also dictate what it is. The original builder was a wealthy land speculator during the construction of the Erie Canal through this area (Lockport). The stone used to build it came from the stone excavated building the locks up the Niagara escarpment - I'm sure that it was finished using materials fitting a person of his stature at the time. The governor of New York, Washington Hunt, lived there for a time too, before building a huge stone house across the road.

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 Post subject: Re: ID wood floor?
PostPosted: Jun Wed 19, 2019 6:07 am 
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Joined: May Sat 25, 2019 9:42 pm
Posts: 48
Location: Royal oak MI
andyjon100 wrote:
My brother just got finished redoing the dining room floor in his historic house, built sometime between 1823 - 1829. Can anyone identify what type of wood it is? Nobody he's asked seems to have any idea. It is unknown when this floor was installed, it's quite possibly original. He said it was hard as a rock to sand, and was very light in color. He used Varathane "Early American" stain in the pictures. The house has a pretty colorful history.
https://www.buffalorising.com/2012/04/p ... -jr-house/

The first photo strikes me a possibly cherry wood because at least in my experience cherry can sometimes have an unusual grain pattern like the first photo, or it could possibly be maple as the other have stated, either way that's a beautiful floor as others have said! For being that old, it's in amazing shape!
-John in MI
Also, I bet you have some really thick supporting beams, I have a piece of mahogany in the garage that is literally 2 maybe 2 1/2 inches thick by 16 inches wide and about 7 feet tall! They sure don't build houses like they used to! Carpenters would pay a pretty penny for those massive boards as they are pretty hard to come by these days with such large dimensions!


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