Bill Deskins of Clarkston, Mich.-based Aardvark Hardwood Floors made a vow while installing 38,000 mesquite end grain blocks in under two weeks: "This is definitely my last commercial job." He was hired by Troy, Mich.-based Continental Interiors to handle the flooring at the University of Michigan's renovated student union courtyard and given a two-week deadline. If that wasn't enough of a time crunch, the end grain had to be resized to 2 by 7 inches after it was acclimated on site. "So we had to ship them on the fly and send all five pallets to a mill in Indiana," Deskins says. "They shipped back around 20 to 30 boxes a day." Deskins and crew member Ryan Solecki laid as fast as they could, working 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. When they completed the glue-down install, they began an intense sanding process that included seven cuts on the dense product. Once sanded, they applied two coats of oil-modified polyurethane before using a track saw to cut in the central brass "M." Then they gave the floor one more coat and breathed a sigh of relief. "It was the most challenging and physically demanding job that I've ever done," says Deskins, whose knees, weeks after, were just beginning to feel better. But a pro of Deskins' skill is in high demand, and it didn't take him long to break his earlier vow about not doing a commercial job ever again, he says: "We got prints for an 11,000-foot custom parquet job in a hotel starting early this coming year. That one's going to be a really cool one, too."
Adhesive: Wakol | Abrasives: 3M, Norton Abrasives | Big machine, edger: American Sanders | Finish: Bona US