Figuring out our flooring vs. fireplace sitch has not been an easy one, but I think Scott and I have found the right solution. As you may recall, we have hit a snag with the downstairs flooring installation because of the uneven and jagged silhouette of the stone fireplace. The dilemma was to somehow find a way to get the laminate around the jagged edges without showing a gap.
Should we use quarter round? Fill the gap with putty/caulk? Cut the laminate to the exact lines of the fireplace? We were really stumped on this one.
I received a number of suggestions, but each solution seemed to only cause more questions. Then, in a whydidntIthinkofthis turn of events, a friend of mine asked a fantastic question: instead of trying to get our new laminate to fit the fireplace, why not make the fireplace fit the laminate?
Enter: the electric jamb saw. I’ve never heard of this tool before, but as it turns out, we were already using a manual version for cutting around the doorways while we did the laminate install upstairs. Apparently, the doorway is also called a “jamb”, hence the name for the saw. Go fig.
A quick phone call to a local hardware store is all we needed to secure a rental of the saw (Tip: most tools are on a first come, first served basis, so call ahead the day you plan to use it to make sure it’s there. In our case, they promised they would hold it until we got to the store). We told the rep that we were using this tool to cut into our fireplace, so he included a masonry blade (meant to cut stone) to fit the tool. This is very important! Always let the rep know what you’re using the tool for, just in case there is something else you will need to get the job done. This comment to the rep may have saved us a very costly tool replacement. Only $25 later, we were on our way home with a heavy-duty piece of equipment.
The jamb saw has several features which make the cutting job easier. One of the biggest is that it is adjustable, so you can make sure that your cuts are at the right height. For our flooring, we needed to consider both the height of the laminate and the underlayment to adjust the saw to the correct level. This would ensure that the laminate could float underneath the fireplace, but not be too high so as to show a gap.
We read that the use of a jamb saw can make quite a lot of mess even if it has a hose attachment on the end (which ours did). In preparation for the impending debris, we covered the items in the room with plastic sheeting and taped up the doorway to minimize cleanup.
The hose connection on the tool is supposed to fit your standard-sized vacuum cleaner. In our case, the hose didn’t fit… so we improvised with one of the tool attachments. It wasn’t perfect, but it helped.
With everything covered and ready, protective goggles in place (Safety first!)and deep breath, Scott began cutting into the fireplace. Almost immediately, the tool’s contact with the stone on the fireplace was emitting sparks!
Was this normal? I didn’t know for sure, but we quickly realized that something wasn’t quite right. True, it was cutting into the stone, but our progress seemed a bit slower than anticipated. So, we turned the tool over and inspected the blade.
You may not be able to tell from this photo, but the blade is worn down very low. We started with a new (or nearly new) blade, so we knew that if we continued at this pace, we would have to purchase several blades to get anywhere close to finishing. Our easy and cheap solution was quickly turning into an expensive one.
Disappointed but not discouraged, Scott hopped onto the internet to figure out the problem. While the rep at the hardware store may have given us a masonry blade, it turns out that we should have used an even tougher one: a diamond blade. Another call to the same hardware store gave us no solution; they didn’t carry the blade we wanted.
Several calls later, we found that no one in the Atlanta area carried the blade we needed. We were left empty-handed with no fireplace fix, no blade, and a wasted tool rental.
So, now what? We decided that a wasted $25 tool rental, while disappointing, was no more of a mistake than the cost of a can of the wrong paint color (which I am no stranger to). The only way to get back on track is to purchase the right blade online and make another attempt when it arrives.
It looks like this fireplace fiasco will be at least a two-parter, since we are waiting on the blade to arrive in the mail. But, with any luck (fingers crossed!), we will be able to start again on the installation of the laminate floors.
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