What Are Ring Shanks?

Installing hardwood flooring is never easy. There are so many variables and things that could go wrong with equipment, product or the wood itself.

Today I’m going to talk a little about ring shanks. Ring shanks are basically knots or ring patterns in the hardwood which decide to show their ugly side during the most inopportune moments.

A good example of a ring shank. The edge of the ring pattern was too close to the finished side of the wood and simply came out.

Most hardwood has knots with the exception of the cleanest of types such as #1 or Select. However, most people enjoy wood which include knots and patterns. It gives the floor depth and character rather than a clean look.

But with the character comes the chance that a knot will not cooperate during the install, sanding, or finishing. If a knot pulls out of the wood it’s called a ring shank. If we find a potential ring shank in the wood we are installing, we will most likely discard that board so we don’t have the hassle of a potential ring shank. Sometimes there is no hint that a ring shank will occur and we find ourselves with one. Many times a small ring shank can be sanded down or epoxy it in. For larger ring shanks, we may have to cut out that board and insert a new one.

Ring shanks can occur during installation, during sanding, during a water pop, during staining, or during the finish application. Most of the time they occur when the wood sees moisture during water popping or the finish application.

In our example, this ring shank is about seven inches across. It came up after the finish application, which means we were pretty much done with the floor at that point. This particular floor was Hickory, but ring shanks can occur in any species of hardwood.

Gordon had to cut out that board and install a new one after the floor had been stained and finish applied.

After the new board was installed, we needed to sand, stain, and apply finish individually.

We had to cut out the board and insert a new one, then sand, stain, and finish it individually.

Don’t worry, though. Ring shanks will not just show up in your floor at any time. They only occur during installation procedures.

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