How do I Make Tongue & Groove Flooring From Veneer Plywood?

Written by mark morris
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How do I Make Tongue & Groove Flooring From Veneer Plywood?
You can create your own tongue and groove flooring from veneer hardwood. (hardwood floor texture image by GoodMood Photo from

Tongue and groove is a joining system that has been used for generations on panelling, siding and flooring. One edge of each board has a protruding tongue that matches a groove cut into the reverse edge for a tight fit without the need for glue or nails. Each piece of tongue and groove, nests into the piece next to it. Tongue and groove flooring can cost more than £6 per square foot. Most veneer plywoods are considerably cheaper. Making your own flooring can save you money and allow you to customise the grain and colour.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cabinet grade plywood
  • Tape measure
  • Table saw
  • Router
  • Router table
  • Grooving bit
  • Reverse grooving bit
  • Random orbit sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Stain
  • Sealer

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  1. 1

    Set your table saw to the desired width for your floor boards. Typical hardwood floors range from 2 ½ to 6 inches wide. Set the depth to 1 ½ inches with a sharp plywood blade.

  2. 2

    Cut enough flooring planks to width to cover your entire floor from the plywood, running lengthwise. Use a push stick to finish each cut, keeping your hand well clear of the blade.

  3. 3

    Install a 1/2-inch half-round bit in your router. Place the router into a router table, so that the bit points up and set it with the bottom shoulder---point where the curve ends---1/4 inch above the table top. Adjust the table fence so that the bit cuts a 1/2-inch groove into the edge of a board passed along the bit, pressed against the fence. Make an "X" on the bottom of each plank.

  4. 4

    Cut one long edge of each flooring plank with the groove bit. Keep the board pressed firmly down to the table and against the fence. Pass the boards over the router at a steady rate to get a smooth cut. Cut one short end of each board.

  5. 5

    Set up a reverse half-round to cut the tongue in the same way as the first bit. Run a test piece and check the tongue and groove for fit. Make adjustments to the bit height as needed to get a smooth fit in the joint with the top faces of both planks flush.

  6. 6

    Run each board through the router, cutting the tongue into the remaining long side. Keep the same face of the board down for consistent cutting. Run the remaining short end of each board through the router as well.

  7. 7

    Mix up your planks when installing to prevent the grain from carrying over from piece to piece. Apply stain once the floor is installed for the most even finish. Use at least three coats of clear finish to seal the floor and protect the finish.

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