Installing an End-Cut 2x4 Floor in my Workshop
A couple years ago, I started building a workshop in my backyard. Much like anything else I work on, I got a little carried away. The entire building is made up of 75% recycled materials and styled after a 50’s service station.
When it came to the floor, I knew I didn’t want to do anything typical. Sure, a wood plank floor or concrete would have done the job but I wanted a more unique look. I thought of a few different ideas including a mix of brick and concrete, patio pavers, slate, or a palette floor. It wasn’t until I visited a local venue called Camp North End that I decided an end-cut 2x4 floor was going to be the winner.
Camp North End is a cultural center in Charlotte that used to be a Ford Model A and Model T factory. During war times, it was converted to a factory during WWI that made missiles. To eliminate sparks from a wrench or part falling, they installed a floor made up of thousands and thousands of 2x4’s.
There were many times throughout this process that I thought about Camp North End. Even if they had extra tools to make the floor, it had to have been a hell of a task.
Anyway, I had a lot of wood laying around that was leftover from other projects and a $5 lumber purchase I made at a farm auction a few months earlier so it seemed like a perfect way to use it all up. It seemed like I had enough to maybe do half of my workshop. So, I got to work.
The first thing I had to do was level the floor. It was just the natural ground at first so I had to bring in a load of clay/sand mixture to raise and level it. I ended up needing a few trailers full since I started on the higher end of the building.
Once I got it leveled, I began cutting all the wood. Piece after piece, I cut hundreds of 3” pieces of 2x4’s 2x6’s and larger pieces. I split up my time cutting and laying the wood but after using up everything I had, I realized how big of a job this really was. Like I said, I thought I’d have enough for half but really, it came out to be maybe a tenth of the area I had to cover. On top of that, I had already spent way more time than I had wanted to.
Despite this thought, I wasn’t about to give up on what I had started. I started watching for free wood on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. I found a decent amount this way and I also started buying damaged wood at 70% off at Home Depot. If I checked a couple times a week, I got a lot more from there. Slowly, I gathered more wood and eventually got half of the floor done.
Following the completion, I coated the floor with a coat of sealer and 2 coats of Spar Urethane. This was a pretty big milestone because it meant that I could put my workbench toolbox in and organize some of my stuff.
Due to other projects and lack of ambition to complete the rest, I put the other half of the floor on hold for awhile. Like 6 months. After all, I had just cut and laid about 2500 individual pieces of wood to only get half of the work done. During this time, I gathered more wood and eventually gained the ambition to get this side done. I knew what I was doing this time so I planned on doing a better job.
I only needed a partial load of fill for this side so I got that and began the arduous process of laying the wood. Again I thought I’d have enough to do about half and really, I only did about 1/3. I still had some more wood laying around so I gathered that up and got some more new pieces and did as much as I could.
I ended up scrounging enough to get about 3/4 done and I was really frustrated at this point. One morning, I woke up and went out looking for wood. I didn’t know if I’d find any but I needed some weathered wood. To my surprise, I came across a big stack of 2x4’s in front of a house that was being remodeled. I loaded them up and got them home.
This was awesome because I finally had enough wood but I didn’t want to only use 2x4’s. I ended up taking the 2x6 tailgate off my Toyota stake-bed truck and cutting that up. I had a few little pieces laying around too and I cut them all into more 3” pieces. Late at night, over a year after I had started the floor, I finally reached the end. A complete end-cut 2x4 floor made up of about 5000 pieces of wood that I cut on a busted mitre saw.
I just needed to coat the floor with some spar urethane and it was done!
I am very happy with the result and the floor has been amazing. The one thing that does suck is if you drop a small part, bolt, or screw. It is a real challenge finding it on this multicolored surface. Several people have asked me if I would do it all over again the same way and honestly… after all that work, I may have considered a cement floor after all.