Bannister Shoerail Undercut - Feasible, or a Better Way?

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Old 01-10-15, 02:22 PM
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Bannister Shoerail Undercut - Feasible, or a Better Way?

I realize this post mentions bamboo, but this forum has much more traffic (and potential answers) than the Bamboo Forum, and I believe the question could pertain many varieties of hard flooring. It's an installation technique question. So please bear with me.

The flooring is a woven strand bamboo product. Golden Arowana by Wellmade Floors, as marketed through Costco Wholesale. I'm floating it on 3 mm Max Windsor EVA over OSB second story subfloor. The project is in two hallways that abut the top of my stair case. I hope this is the correct term: shoerail. It is the lower baluster termination point for the banister system that surrounds the landing hallways, overlooking the foyer below. My shoerails are 6" x 1" oak with a beveled edge. They range from 12' to 14' in length. One of them curves in the final three feet before terminating at a wall.

I propose to install the bamboo running parallel with the shoe rail. The opposing side of the hall is gypsum board, which will be easily undercut and trimmed with a baseboard to accommodate the required 1/2" expansion gap. The expansion gap is problematic along the shoerail. Adding trim does not seem possible ... the shoerail's natural beauty, beveled edge, and a curve makes quarter round or any kind of molding undesirable. My only hope is to undercut the shoerail. It seems to be shimmed about 1/4" off the subfloor. So I'm thinking the required 5/8" vertical gap would remove the bottom 3/8" of the 1" shoerail, if I can conduct a precise cut. The cut will have to be close to 1" deep (1/2" for the expansion spec, the rest to hide the board edge). With 5" of unmolested shoerail remaining in contact with shims/subfloor, I don't foresee a compromise of structural integrity. But from an aesthetic standpoint, the penalty for a mistake with the undercut would be steep.

So my questions are: 1) Does this approach sound feasible, and does anybody have experience doing something similar? 2) If it's worth tackling, what's the absolute best saw for the job? I have a Bosch 1640 VS Fine Cut saw, that was been very accurate for cutting door jambs and drywall for the same purpose. I usually run the saw blade on some sort of guide rail for thickness, as opposed to free-handing on a marked line. It works great. But I'm not opposed to renting or buying something better. I actually have a couple of Crain undercut saws (Model 820 & 825) on eBay watch

I'd appreciate feedback regarding the undercut idea from anyone with insight.

I wouldn't mind comments on the products either. There's some negative reviews on the bamboo. But I'm at one year post-install in a 300 s.f. room, and couldn't be happier with the look and durability. The remaining 700 or so s.f. I have for two more rooms and this hallway was purchased at the same, so acclimation is stellar. The EVA hushed the first install very nicely, and it feels great underfoot. But since this hallway is a big-deal install (for me at least), I'm open to hearing "red flags" regarding the whole thing.

Thanks,

Rich

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Old 01-10-15, 02:42 PM
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I know it's a lot of work you didn't count on, but IMO the better solution would be to remove the ballusters and shim that 6" "shoe mould" up 1/2" with a piece of 1/2" plywood. That would give you the gap you'd need.

If you do try and undercut it in place, I'd probably use a small palm router (laminate trimmer) and a 3 wing cutter for most of it, and maybe a Fein Multimaster for the hard to reach areas next to the corner or wall... I would definitely NEVER use the Bosch 1640 for that.
 
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Old 01-10-15, 03:52 PM
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Brant, I see where you are going on this. Would an undercut saw used on trim molding work in this instance. It would follow the contour with a specified depth of cut. The problem I see is the molding is probably 5/4 at most and the flooring is 5/8 to 3/4", which would make the undercut precarious at best. Nevermind, I see where it is only 3/8", so undercut would work, maybe. Thoughts?
 
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Old 01-10-15, 08:08 PM
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"I know it's a lot of work you didn't count on, but IMO the better solution would be to remove the ballusters and shim that 6" "shoe mould" up 1/2" with a piece of 1/2" plywood. That would give you the gap you'd need."

Hmmm. That is an interesting idea that never crossed my mind. Ballusters would have to be shortened to maintain bannister height, as the hall/landing bannisters (horizontal) tie into the staircase bannister. Now that you have presented the idea, I'm thinking that there would be aesthetic implications for the opposing side of the shoe rail. I think trimming the newly-created 1/2" gap would far exceed my abilities, especially considering the curved portion. It's essentially the same issue that has me looking for a means to tuck the flooring in along the shoe rail, because I know I can't properly apply any sort of baseboard or moulding. Even with the best of skills and color match, it still wouldn't look "right," on my opinion.

Thanks for the suggestion, which would probably work in many applications. It just seems like a trade-off of effort that poses yet another challenge that needs to be resolved.
 
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Old 01-10-15, 08:57 PM
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there would be aesthetic implications for the opposing side of the shoe rail. I think trimming the newly-created 1/2" gap would far exceed my abilities, especially considering the curved portion
If you can post pictures of the opposing side that would help to get some ideas. Even though it would be very difficult to trim opposing side, it may be just what you need. This is of course after cutting balusters and raising base.
 
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Old 01-11-15, 02:12 PM
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Certainly, Here are pics of the opposing sides:
 
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