A Heaping Serving of Humble Pie


I vowed to use period-correct tools, techniques and – as much as possible – salvaged materials from the early 1900s for the house rehab projects. And I’ve caught a bit of grief for it, because, as several people have mentioned, no one will know what flooring nails I used once the work is done. “Yes,” I said, “but I’ll know. And it will make me happy.”

Last weekend, I tried to nail the salvaged floorboard in place on the new landing. Parts of the substructure of said landing are built from 2 x yellow pine beams. Actual 2x. That’s 100 years old. Hardened yellow pine sap is adamantine.

I drilled pilot holes. Then larger pilot holes. No joy. The only way I was able to fully sink the “proper” flooring nails into that old pine was to drill a hole too large to allow the nails any holding power. Well that rather defeats the purpose.

So today, I rented a pneumatic flooring nailer. Compressed air is stronger than my arm wielding a 16-ounce hammer. I guess I should have a side salad of spinach to go with my humble pie.

But on the ends, where the nails are going into the old pine, the compressor and gun were not quite strong enough; I still had to use a nailset to sink the heads low enough to put the next board in place (or, ya know, bend the heads down enough to get them out of the way…that might have happened one or twice).

So I’m chagrined…but ready to move on to the next step(s). And that makes me happy.


About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
This entry was posted in Foyer, Renovation/Restoration. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A Heaping Serving of Humble Pie

  1. gespanne says:

    “adamantine”… English Major! It does my heart good to see that you aren’t going any faster on this than I would. Life gets in the way of progress when you’re dealing with your private space. Remember. the guys who put the floors down the first time would have used a pneumatic nailer if they had one. ‘See you at WIA.

  2. Seamus says:

    If at first
    you don’t succeed
    Get a bigger hammer

  3. mysticcarver says:

    I have tried to dominate over pine that old before. It won easily and handily.

  4. Patrick says:

    I tried to drive a nail into the pine that makes up the framing in my garage, (only 50+ years old): no joy. I wanted to put up some shelving. That stuff was like a rock. Never did get the shelf up.

  5. oltexasboy says:

    Congratulations, you are making progress and that counts. I have heard it said that anything worth doing is worth doing right, listen up, from an old man’s perspective, is if it is worth doing, it is worth finishing, regardless of how you get from point A to B , it matters that you get to point B. Again congrats.

  6. Polly Becton says:

    As a chemist by training, “adamantine” has a rather remote meaning for your usage. Neither the chemical compound or the celluloid seems appropriate. Perhaps you would be better served by “adamantium” if Marvel is not too avant-garde for The Bard’s minion.

    • fitz says:

      I am given to arcane usages, I admit. (And, er, I don’t think I’ve ever read a Marvel comic…one of my many failings.)

  7. There was a sayin’ in my days of the Army, “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’. I don’t blame ya one iota.

  8. Kinderhook88 says:

    Bwahaha! I’m sorry. Not really laughing at you, it’s almost a rite of passage. I have also fallen victim to the strength of very old framing. Consider yourself an initiate, and don’t beat yourself up too much about it. 🙂

  9. tsstahl says:

    My post wwII house is sheathed in dutch lap pine, over pine studs. Two years ago a large oak fell on the roof in a storm. The house won by a large margin with only minimal damage to the roof. The asphalt shingles, not so much…

    A similar sized maple fell on a much newer neighbor’s house several years earlier and took out an entire bedroom and bathroom on the second floor.

    I guess this really didn’t add anything to the conversation other than to say, yea, that old pine is hard stuff.

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