Finally finished my wood floor!

Hand scraped floor

Red plane on brick and shavings on the floor.

 

Well we finally got it done!  We got our wood floor installed using nothing but our own locally sourced hardwood.  The entire project cost us a bit more than we thought it would but it still came in cheaper than most comparable products.

Of course when I say it was lower priced than comparable products I am not taking into account the amount of time that we spent working on creating the planks.  If we took the hours upon hours of time spent then I probably paid over twice as much for our new floor lol. Some people might say that it isn’t worth the time to take on such a labor intensive project but I beg to differ. This floor, in all likely-hood will be in our home until we die!  Being able to share this projects with friends and family along with future friends is a great conversation starter.  We have a great sense of pride whenever we come home now and that is something that can’t be bought at any price.

We decided on a darker stain to finish the floor and I am very happy that we did.  The great thing about this is that if we get sick of the color or if the floor gets worn out, we can always change the color later!  We used a pretty high end finish so I don’t imagine that we will need to do a refinish any time soon but it is nice to have the option if we want a change.

Wood flooring aftercare- It turns out that we were mis-informed in the past about how to care for a wood floor.  We always thought that you should use Murphy’s oil soap to clean the floor but it turns out that is a big mistake.  I guess the reason is that any oil based cleaning product contains glycol which leaves a film or residue on the floor which then starts to collect dust and grime and over time your floor starts to look old, dirty and worn.  We found out that the most safe and effective way to clean a wood floor is just some good ole’ vinegar and hot water.  1 part vinegar with 5 parts water.  If you need a more thorough clean then you can use the same ratio except swap out the vinegar with ammonia.  The ammonia is only necessary once or twice a year so please use it sparingly.

Overall we are very happy with our floor although we would not recommend that just anyone try making their own hardwood flooring.  It is a very laborious job and not for the faint of heart.  Feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions about the process we used.

Creating Wood Flooring Planks from Fresh Lumber

Full disclosure before I make this post.  I do not know what I am doing in this process.  I am doing research and learning as I go but I want to share my experience here in case it might help someone learn from me and any of the mistakes that I make.

What I am trying to accomplish is the creation of my very own wood floor.  I plan on using my own trees from my own property.  I am still in the process of choosing which species of wood.  Choosing the wood will be one of the keys to making my own wood flooring planks.  A lot of people say that oak would be my best choice but I am kind of looking for something a bit more exciting.  Thinking maybe black walnut or something similar.

From what I have read, it takes some serious time to dry out the wood so I will probably find someone with a kiln to help along the process.  The area that I am flooring is a small space of only 10’x5′ so I feel that my goal is within the realm of possibility.  After the boards are cut out of the tree I plan on hand carving and scraping the boards with my chisels and other wood tools.  I plan on carving out the tongue and grooves for the boards with a router.  I know this might seem like a bit of overkill for such a small area but the location of the floor is a real center point of the room and I think it will be a great conversation starter to have our dining room table centered over top.

This process is probably going to take me a year to complete because of the learning curve but I think it will be fun.  I have decided that I will give the installation a shot as well.  I am going to hand nail the entire thing instead of using a stapler hooked up to a compressor.

The one portion of the project that I think I will subcontract out is the finishing.  I have seen several wood floors that are absolute trash because the polyurethane finish was applied unevenly or incorrectly which caused it to look cloudy.  Cloudy urethane is a travesty that covers the original beauty of the wood.  I want the wood grain to bleed through loud and clear and I am willing to pay the professionals to have that done.  The company I am looking at for the job is Wood Floor Refinishing Novi.  I linked to their Facebook page because they have a lot of pictures of some of their previous work.

I really need to get this project off the ground pretty quickly if I want to get it started before the snow falls for the season.  Hopefully I can make a trip up next weekend to pick out the tree.  If I do, I will shoot some pictures and post them as an update to this post.

Do you have any experience with wood working?  Comment below if you have any tips or suggestions.

Tree House for Grown ups

Obviously when you are into trees the way that we have been for a lifetime, you have probably come across a few tree houses here or there.  We have always dreamed of building a grown up tree house.  I believe the first time the thought came across our mind was back in 1989.  We were waiting on a pretty nice tax return that year and thought that it would be a pretty awesome investment to build one on some property that we had.

Being the late nineties, this was long before the popularity spike that has come along just recently. When we first saw the show Treehouse Masters we were absolutely floored that such a show exists.  The owner of the company is a bit of a goofball but in my opinion he makes the show that much more magical.  Pete has a special way of envisioning each and every project that he works on by first finding the right tree and then sitting out in the woods to sketch out his plans for the tree house.  He really does have vision when it comes to figuring out how to best incorporate things into a tree.

While we still have not built our dream tree house, we are on our way to crossing that threshold in the air.  We have been putting away a few dollars here and there and we are getting closer every year to making our dream a reality.  Since becoming such large fans on Pete and the show, we have decided that we would really like to hire him for the project.  We would love to just move forward with the project but we made a pact not to use credit for anything that was not completely necessary.

On a positive note, we are in touch with a company that has offered to donate the wood for lumber.  The companies name is Waterford Tree Service, they mentioned that they get all types of different species and they also suggested a local company that would turn it into lumber for us at a reasonable price.  We are still trying to decide on what type of wood so if you have any suggestions please feel free to leave a comment.

We are not very high maintenance people but we do prefer to have some of the 21st century conveniences in our castle in the sky.  A bathroom is a must and believe it or not we are hoping to have WiFi if at all possible.  I have seen them do that before so I imagine it won’t be a problem.

Until next time….

Photographs

To me, trees are one of the most amazing things that nature has created. They are so majestic, each one is different, no matter the size of the tree. I love taking pictures of trees, however the picture never fully captures the true essence of the tree but I still love the pictures, I just love the real thing more. Nothing is more sad to me when a tree needs to be cut down or when people plant trees near things and the tree cannot grow to its fullest potential. When I see trees that are bent because of power lines or when I see a tree that has grown into a metal fence, I realize that most people do not know what they are doing when they are attempting to landscape their properties.

Plants, bushes, flowers, shrubs, trees and the like are best when they are left to themselves but most people plant them to close together, the reason being (I think) is that they want it to look good now and don’t have the patience to wait for nature to do it’s thing and grow into what it should be. Which is fine if you can be OK with that, its just that I am not. I never cut back my plants at the end of summer, I let them be their natural selves and just do what they do. To me, this is when they are the most beautiful. So to see trees planted where they cannot grow to their natural height makes me sad. These trees are everywhere, just pay attention to your surroundings when you drive to work, or back home, or when you are just out and about on your errands, you will see at least one tree that was planted in the wrong spot or that maybe a building was built just a little too close to a tree.

I know that I am probably in the minority with my thoughts on this and that most of you that are reading this are probably thinking that I am a silly person, but that’s fine. We all have our things, this is mine. But here you are anyways reading this so maybe there is a small part of you that feels close to what I feel about trees. Maybe. The only thing that I can to help the situation is to make sure that when I plant things is to plant them where they can grow naturally and help others realize the potential of plants in this way. Whether they do it or not is up to them but at least they know that there are other options out there and they do not have to do things just one way.

I do realize that trees will get in the way from time to time and will need to be cut down but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. That is why planting trees is very important and why I do it whenever I get the chance. There are companies out there that just go around planting trees, just like there are companies that go around cutting down trees.  I hope this post helps you realize that trees are important and that we need to take good care of them.

Patty

 

From shade tree to artwork

Last week my parents decided that they needed to have a tree removed from their yard because they were nervous about how close it was getting to their house.  Personally, I do not know if it would have ever caused a problem but my dad is old and stubborn and once he has something in his head, it is nearly impossible to convince him otherwise.

After finding out about the impending doom of the majestic oak that resides in my parents front yard I had a fun idea.  I figured why not use the wood from the tree for something fun and artistic. I remembered a couple years back that I had found a wood carver at a festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  I still had the guys card in my wallet.  I gave the guy a call and he gave me a quote on how much it would  cost to turn a 5 foot tree trunk into a sculpture in my parents front yard.

The silly thing about the carved statue that I am commissioning is that it is gonna be a raccoon.  I know, I know…. a raccoon?  You say?  Yes a raccoon.  I guess I should have mentioned that my dads nickname growing up was rocky, as in Rocky Raccoon.  Not totally sure on why but he said it might have had something to do with the fact that he was nocturnal when he was younger.  Either way the nickname stuck and people still call my 60 year old father Rocky.  My dad still works a full time job so we decided that we will try to keep this as a surprise.  It should not be too hard to pull off because my mom is gonna be the person in charge of being around for the actual tree removal.  Once the tree service has the bulk of the tree taken down, the wittler will get to work.  He assumes he can get it done up in several hours.  He might not have it stained up in time but so long as the statue is carved then I am happy.  The tree company out of Howell that is taking down the tree is named Livingston Tree Service and they are happy to leave the bottom quarter of the stump in place, actually they are ecstatic because they won’t have to bring out their stump grinder.

As long as everything goes as planned, we should have it all done someday next week.  I will be sure to post a picture when it gets done. Picture below is similar to what I was thinking although I hope to make it look a bit more finished than the one in the picture.

tree-sculpture

How to Choose the Proper Tree for your Large Yard

Picking the right tree for your specific situation is not a perfect science but we have noticed there are some trees that work better than others in certain situations. We have created a list of 5 species that we think are the best option for planting in the midwest. All of the trees in our list are readily available at most reputable tree farms. This list is targeted towards a larger yard or landscape as all of the trees on this list will eventually grow to be quite large in size. We may in the future, create a list of small trees that are better for a smaller area.  If you would like us to do that please leave a comment below.

We know that the amount of choices when selecting a tree seems relatively endless but we took out some of the guess work out of narrowing things down.  This list is not an all inclusive one but we believe this will give you a great starting point from which to choose an awesome tree for your big yard. You should always keep a trees characteristics in mind when making your final choice.

I used a list of some of the most popular trees in North America as a starting point from which to create my list.  The number one criteria for my list is for the tree to be novice friendly.  I believe that when you make an investment into a tree that it is not much fun to deal with trees that tend to get sick or are tough to grow.  We like happy and healthy trees that are easy to grow from a seedling.

Without further adieu…..

 

dogwoodflower

5. Flowering Dogwood– This is argued to be the most beautiful tree that produces blooms on its limbs that is also native to the United States.

 

redmaple

Red Maple tree

 

 

 

 

4. Red Maple– I Love red maples, so much so that I actually planted a couple in my own yard.  These trees are absolute beasts.  They love the climate here which makes them a breeze to grow. See pic on right.

3. River Birch– This hardy tree is a great choice. It has large leaves and a tremendous amount of vigor.  It is also quite resistant to leaf spot!  Really can’t go wrong with this big bad boy!

2. Sycamore– Very distinct green leaves that offer a great choice as a shade tree.  Some homeowners use these trees to shade their house from the morning and evening sun which can help keep down their a/c bill.

1. White or Red Oak– Not placing the mighty oak tree on the list would be an absolute travesty. The oak tree has earned quite a reputation as one of the most hardy of all North American trees.  I used to love climbing the giant oak that we had in our backyard when I was a kid.  We actually had to have the tree removed after it started growing too large and was impeding on our garage. Tree removal is a quite disappointing thing when you have had a living thing for that long but I suppose it is just part of life.

 

 

There is no perfect tree

Remember, all types of trees have pros and cons. Trees can give you exactly what you are looking for while it is young and may eventually grow into something you don’t want in the future. That is why it is very important to really dive in deep before making any quick decisions.  Having a “cool” looking tree is nice but choosing a tree solely for its outer appearance may end as tragically as it would when choosing a mate in the same way.  Starting a tree from a seedling can be quite a task so be sure to learn the proper steps involved before taking it on. If starting from a seedling is too daunting for you, we won’t judge you too harshly if you decide to take a shortcut and purchase a young tree to transplant.  We hope that you liked our list.  Stay green!

 

My Willow Tree

I just want to start with a quick little story about my favorite tree when I was younger. The willow tree. We had one in our backyard in the back left corner. It was huge and it hung over the fence but the trunk was in our yard so it was my tree.

I would always go out and sit in it, there was a “little nook” that was perfect for chilling out. Weather permitting, I would sit all day and read in it or play with my current favorite toy. I could stay in that tree all day, or night if my parents would have let me.

That is until one night we had a really bad thunderstorm and lightening struck the tree and it literally split in half. It knocked down the fence and into the two yards that bordered our. I was completely and utterly devastated. I had hoped that the tree was fixable but my dad try to explain to me that the tree was done and there was nothing we could do about it. I was probably three or four years old but I clearly remembering being inconsolable about it.

After my parents had the “mess” cleaned up and the fence mended we had that ugly metal box sitting in the place where my tree should have been. I guess that when lightening strikes you need to protect the area or some such thing like that. I vowed then that when I grew up I would always have a willow tree in my yard and I do. It is my go to tree to plant as well when I plant trees that my husband needs to uproot. I plant all different types of trees that are hardy for my area but I will plant as many willows as I can.

Thanks, Patty