How to Clean the Tongue & Groove From Reclaimed Wood

Written by jim wildman
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How to Clean the Tongue & Groove From Reclaimed Wood
Tongue and groove flooring (background texture of wooden boards floor image by pablonilo from

There are many styles of flooring available on the market today. Tile and carpet are nice, but nothing beats the warmth and charm of hardwood flooring. Some companies specialise in reclaiming antique wood and old hardwood flooring. Measure the square footage for the area of the flooring. You will find many boards that are not usable for one reason or another. Check with the reclaimed wood supplier to see if 25 per cent waste factor is enough for the condition of the floor you are buying. The do it yourself handyman can clean and prepare the reclaimed lumber for use.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • BBQ grill scrub brush
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask
  • Gloves
  • Hand held metal detector
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Tongue and groove router bits
  • Router table

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  1. 1

    Brush off the surface of each board of the reclaimed lumber. This is a dirty job so be sure to be wearing your safety glasses and a dust mask. Do not use water to clean the wood, it will raise the grain of the flooring. After the floors are installed they will be sanded evenly. You can use a wire brush with a scraper for the bad areas. A BBQ grill brush works well for this.

  2. 2

    Run a metal detector over each board. A hand held metal detector will locate any hidden nails or screws that may have broken off in the wood when it was removed. These can be dangerous and can cauce damage to your tools. Remove any that are found with a hammer and a trim pry bar.

  3. 3

    Stack the flooring with the material facing the same direction. This will make it easier to work with the individual pieces of flooring.

  4. 4

    Cut a small piece of the reclaimed flooring and take it to your local wood working equipment supply store. Use it to find a set of router bits that closely match the sample. You need to run the wood through the tongue and groove bits to repair them so that they will fit tightly together. They often get damaged when they are removed from the old structure.

  5. 5

    Set the tongue router bit into a router table. Adjust the router bit to match the scraps profile. Place the flooring so the finished side is up. Move the fence in or out so that the router bit will remove a small amount of the wood. Run the test piece through the router table to check the cut. Run all of the flooring through the router table to clean out the tongue and groove. Swap router bits and run the other side of the flooring. This step ensures that the pieces of flooring will fit together tightly.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear knee pads when working on them.
  • Wear safety glasses when operating power tools.
  • Do not stand in front or behind a planner when it is in operation.
  • Do not dig into the wood surface when cleaning the surface of the wood.

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