Welcome to Stories of Flooring. In today’s episode, I’ll be talking about three of the baddest tools we use on the job.
1. The Bakuma
The Bakuma is a saw… but no ordinary saw. We call it the Bakuma because that’s the only readable word on the sheath (yeah, it’s got a sheath). All the rest are Japanese.
So what makes this Japanese saw so cool? Well, take a look:
I was thinking about taking a picture, but instead, I’ll draw a text picture ’cause I’m lazy.
Yeah, it’s that thin. The thing is a beast too! It’ll cut through anything. Moulding, door frames, floors, fingers, electrical wires, steel pipes that protect electrical wires… needless to say, excercise responsible sawing while operating the Bakuma.
2. The Bostitch
The single most intimidating staple gun I have ever seen. First of all, it doesn’t even look like a staple gun. It looks more like a pound-something-down-until-it-never-existed gun.
It’s designed to sit on the edge of a peice of wood flooring. There is a large cylinder that sticks out at about a 45 degree angle, with a blunt “Release Anger Here” pad on the top. All in all, the assembly stands about two feet tall, a foot long, and five inches thick.
The idea behind it is that, once placed on the wood, the five pound mallet is to collide violently with the “Release Anger Here” pad. This causes said wood to have no choice put to go down and in about as far as it will ever go. Then, the force of the mallet combines with 120psi of air pressure to insert the staple deep into even Brazillian Cherry (about twice as hard as oak) with the greatest of ease.
So with this tool at our sides, we welcome the supposed “Challenge” of warped and twisted boards. By the time the ‘Boss’ is done with them, they’ll be flatter and straighter than… you know… something really flat and straight.
3. The Fish
Now I saved this for last because it is my favorite (and by far the baddest) tool in our repetoir.
The Fish is a sander. We call it the Fish because it kinda looks like one. It has an 8-inch rotary sanding disk. From there, it starts wide (about 4 inches) with one handle sticking out the left side. As you follow it down it’s 18 inch body, it slims down into a comfortable handle at the bottom with a trigger. Fairly simple.
When we were new to hardwood flooring, we came up against a problem: Sanding under the toe-kicks in a kitchen. We didn’t have any kind of power sander that would reach… except the Fish. So we innocently brought it to the job site, not knowing what was ahead of us.
The sander worked well… very well. The problem was that it worked too well. The slightest slip from the operator would allow this sander to literally drop into the wood. Now we’re talking about solid oak here, and the Fish was sanding holes in it as if it were butter! Needless to say, we do not use the fish on floors anymore. Not only did we have deep gouges every time we slipped, but if we bumped into a wall or cabinet, the fish would eat right through it. Basically, it’s a sander that wishes it was a saw.
We did, however, find a use for it….
It was a dark and stormy night. Our job had just gotten tough. We had to remove linoleum and underlayment. Usually not a big deal, but time consuming. Well, on this underlayment (1/4-inch plywood), whoever put it down only used staples every 8 inches or so! That was a dream come true! So everything was going great until we hit our first seam (where two sheets of underlayment come together). The soft-and-fuzzy 8 inch spaces mutated into hideously-ugly-fully-armored-with-bloodstained-spikes -of-hate 1/2-inch spaces! Yeah, a staple every half inch! Even more in some places. The result: When all the rest of the plywood was up, all the wood at the seams was still there with the staples in them, too close together to get anything under or between them.
We tried all kinds of ideas to get the wood out so we could bang the staples down flat, but none of them were very efficient… until we got the fish.
We went out and bought a grinding wheel for the Fish. Happy day. The result was lots of sawdust, flying chunks of wood, and sparks. Lots of sparks. I was shooting a thick cloud of sparks about 6 to 8 feet in whatever direction I pointed the Fish. I cannot describe the sheer joy of annihilating something you hate by the power of fire. It was actually a bit scary at first… and I’m a pyro! But alas, we eventually ran out of staples to grind… go figure.