Step 2: Set the Slat Length

laying out wood slats for a herringbone floor
Photo: Wendell T. Webber
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Herringbone slats must be cut to a length that is an exact multiple of their width. But unless you're a math genius, first lay out pieces to see what approximate length will fit within your field; you want to land with a full-length slat at each side. Use a rafter square to place the first piece at a 45-degree angle to the centerline, then zigzag out to the side, overlapping pieces at 90 degrees to adjust for length. Once you're in the ballpark, set the exact length and note that measurement. We chose a length of 27 inches to work with our 3-inch-wide flooring.

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    Tools List

    • 30-foot tape measure
      Measuring tape
    • chalk line
      Chalk line
    • trammel
      Trammel. Make one from a piece of scrap board
    • straightedge guide
      Straightedge
    • framing square
      Framing square
    • miter saw
      Miter saw
    • mallet
      Rubber mallet
    • router
      Router and 1¼-inch flooring bit
    • speed square
      Rafter square
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • flooring nailer
      Flooring nailer
    • circular saw
      Circular saw

    Shopping List

    Engineered tongue-and-groove strip flooring.
    Have your supplier determine how much you need, but figure on 15 percent waste.

    Feature and apron strips to frame the herringbone field.

    Flooring splines

    Molding to create a guide for the circular saw.

    ¾-inch plywood
    Get one 4x8 sheet to make the nailing blank and a straightedge.

    1½-inch drywall screwsto attach the blank to the subfloor.

    16-gauge 2-inch L-head flooring nails or 'cleats'

    Wood glue

    Painter's tape