Floor Medallion

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Charlie James 1 year, 3 months ago.

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  • #2427

    Bill Leonhardt

    Fifteen years ago I rebuilt my house and had new hardwood floors installed. They are red oak (3/4”) over a plywood (3/4”) subfloor. Well it’s time to have them refinished, but before I do, I’d like to build a medallion and inlay it into an area of my floor.

    I may do more than one, but the first one I am considering would be for an area about 30“ square. The inlay material is not yet decided, but will probably be maple, cherry and walnut. Perhaps some others yet to be named (purple heart). I haven’t yet decided on the pattern (researching now) nor the shape (round, square, rectangle, diamond), but here is the technique I am considering:

    1. Freeze the dimensions and shape.
    2. Create a template for the actual inlay size, probably from MDF.
    3. Use a router and the template to cut the outline of the inlay into the floor as deep as the red oak (about 3/4”) and remove the red oak in the field of the inlay.
    4. Measure the height if the existing floor above the subfloor and determine the maximum value.
    5. Secure a quality, flat piece of 3/8” plywood a little larger than the template opening and measure its thickness.
    6. Plane the hardwood for the inlay to a thickness (around 3/8”) such that when it’s glued to the 3/8” plywood, it will be just proud of the existing floor.
    7. Cut the pieces for the inlay and glue them to the plywood. I intend that the glue cover the whole surface of the plywood.
    8. Use the template and router to trim the inlay assembly to the size of the opening I routed in the floor.
    9. Coat the subfloor with glue and then insert the inlay into the floor opening. Apply weight until the glue dries.
    10. If all goes as planned, the inlay should be just proud of the existing floor and the floor finishing people can hit the area with a final sanding to make it flush before the new finish is applied.

    I may be making a mistake thinking than wood expansion will not be an issue because I am gluing onto plywood and then gluing the plywood onto more plywood. I would like to hear from others whether they would be comfortable with this technique or whether they see problems.


  • #2428

    Charlie James

    Bill, I’ll write more when I wake up but I’d stay away from purpleheart, it fades quickly and turns gray when exposed to light, especially direct sunlight! Use a few router bits that you don’t care about because you’ll surely hit a nail. Use 1/2″ 9 ply birch plywood, it comes in 5’X 5′ sheets. It is quality ply and won’t fail on you unless you find it at a home center…More later…

  • #2442

    Charlie James

    Bill, I know the answer already but did you think about buying one? They aren’t really that expensive to order. I know, I know but I had to ask that… If you come close to the right thickness you can glue the medallion in then finish it off with an orbital sander. The large flooring machines will tear your carefully made inlay! You might think about cutting the floor out with the router on a (very) slight inward angle and match the inlay to it. It’s not a piece of furniture but why not go for a perfect fit!

  • #2443

    Bill Leonhardt

    Charlie, I actually don’t NEED a medallion, but I thought it would be interesting to make one. I understand your suggestion about cutting the edges on an angle for a better fit but I envision more holding the router base solidly against the floor. I suppose I could make a slanted base for the router, but I thought I’d get a decent fit with a straight cut and the MDF template. Sort of like a big version of the “bow tie” inlay process for covering knots, etc.

    I plan on an orbital sander to get me close to the surrounding floor and then raising the finisher’s awareness so he/she doesn’t tear it up.

    I like your suggestion to go with 1/2″ plywood instead of 3/8″. That way the inlay wood is thinner and more compliant. Where do you get that plywood? Robert’s, Rosenzweig”s, on-line?

  • #2444

    Charlie James

    Bill, Ha, I knew the answer to that one already! The medallion’s are a focal point, look good and you get to make something nice. I pick my plywood up at Rosenzweig’s but you can probably get it at Robert’s. If you make a circle cutting jig you’d be fine. Use the same jig and same size bits for cutting out and making the inlay. If you want, you can glue a very thin piece of veneer on the inside of the jig and place a tic mark on the router and jig so it’s exactly the same.It may complicate the fit if the thickness isn’t exactly the same as the flooring though.

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