Another non-relaxing weekend, but I was mentally prepared. This is the weekend, Mrs. Fetched said, that we would get the living room floor done. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but when I saw the sander in the back of Barge Vader I knew it was going to happen. Of course, it would have been better had we nothing else going on, but there’s always something going on. So The Boy and I got the last of the furniture out of the living room, then I grabbed the sander. “Here goes nothing,” I said, and I was right: I hit the switch, and the sander hummed and popped the breaker on the motor housing. Trying another outlet, and getting the same result, I called Home Despot and they told me to bring it back. Naturally, it worked there (we think something was stuck that came free on the ride back to the store) but they gave us another one and credited us the downtime on our rental. But by the time we got home, it was really too late to get started so we agreed it was on for Saturday. We did check the sander and it worked, so that was one thing out of the way.
And on it went. I began Saturday way too early by taking The Boy in for Part II of his GED exam. He’s not sure about the math, but everything else he thinks went well. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. I came back home, determined to get at least one of the two things done that I wanted (cleaning out the gutter on the outbuilding and bottling my beer). Figuring the former would be quicker than the latter, I got a ladder and the leaf blower. The gutter was pretty well clogged, but the blower made quick work of it once I got on the roof and scooted over to each end.
With that out of the way, I headed back into the living room and got to work. A square-buff sander is a rather large piece of gear, about the size of an industrial floor polisher. But like a well-balanced motorcycle, the weight went away once it was in motion. Like a pipes-addict’s bike, it was also LOUD, so I got my earplugs and kept at it. The sander had a vacuum thing and a bag to catch the sawdust, but it was leaving 3–4 times as much on the floor as was going into the bag. At least it wasn’t getting in the air — maybe the sheet we put over the hallway entrance made Murphy cry.
I made a complete pass over the floor, then vacuumed, then made another pass. It was at this point that I realized that someone else had sanded and surfaced this floor in years past — and didn’t do a very good job of it. Talking to some people, I ascertained that the last people to do this had used a drum sander. A drum sander works much more quickly than the square-buff type, but quickly digs divots in the floor if you pause for even the briefest moment. Judging from the lines, whoever did it before was going back-and-forth with it — not the right way to do it.
After four passes, there was still a fair amount of stain left — not only the divots and uneven places, but in the grain itself. There was also a strip of unsanded floor along the walls. Since we needed a couple of other things from Home Despot, we also picked up a “palm sander” (first time I’ve ever heard that term for a hand-held electric sander, but whatever). This thing turned out to be a Little Cricket: small, noisy, and powerful. It was also quite happy to walk along the wall (or wherever) without me helping it.
At this point, I was ready to hit it with the 80-grit sandpaper, but Mrs. Fetched was officially In A Hurry. “Let’s just go with it like it is,” she said. Not by The Book, but I was feeling too tired & lazy to argue. We got some things to spend the night somewhere else, so we wouldn’t breathe fumes all night, and Mrs. Fetched took Daughter Dearest somewhere — leaving me to put down the clear-coat. This stuff smelled like model airplane glue, and stunk worse (seeing as we were dealing with it by the gallon). I had an open window and a fan to keep the fumes down, but I seriously don’t remember painting myself out the front door. All I remember is that I left the lid to the can on the fireplace lintel and had to walk across the slick floor to get it. Thank God I didn’t fall down. It also turned out there was some miscommunication; the females hadn’t got anything for the night and they were rather out of sorts about it. I blamed the fumes. They didn’t argue.
Sunday after church, it was time to continue. I put the 120-grit screen on the sander and went over the floor. “Are you sure it’s supposed to look like that?” Mrs. Fetched asked dubiously. Well… no, it’s not supposed to look like a 400 square foot scuff mark; you have to put the second coat on. I vacuumed it up, and Mrs. Fetched said “That should be good enough. Look,” and swiped the floor with her finger. When it came up white, she got the mop and went over it again. By this time, it was about 5 p.m. This time, I pointed the fan out the front door. This worked much better to keep the fumes tolerable; Mrs. Fetched (who gets a headache upon the merest whiff of most chemicals) was able to sit in the door to the kitchen and watch — and I remembered painting myself out this time.
With some time to kill, we took everything back to Home Despot and finally remembered to pick up some fluorescent lights for the kitchen. We also killed some time looking at area rugs (and boggling at the prices on some of them), took Daughter Dearest to meet some of her chorus friends for a “business” trip to a largish church, picked up some milk, and went down to her parents’ place. They had just returned from a week in Pensacola, so we killed some more time talking about that and everything else. We returned to FAR Manor at 9 p.m. to find the smell tolerable (especially behind the sheet in the hallway). I went to get Daughter Dearest from her outing and returned to find Mrs. Fetched sacked out.
By the way, she loves how it turned out. To me, it’s a rustic, kind of hunting-lodge look. I suggested we needed to hang some animal hides on the walls to go with the floor; she said “Yuck.”
Not bad — it cost us about $215 in rentals and materials, a dang sight less than what we’d been quoted to have it done. The biggest hassles were moving the furniture out and having to stay elsewhere for a night, which we would have had to do if we’d hired someone to do it. The actual sanding and coating was fairly easy. We have to move stuff back in, but we’re going to get a rug or three and some felt pads for the furniture first.
Oh… I did get my beer bottled up too. I was up past 11 with it, but the deed was done. I’m naming this batch, a dark ale, “Rosemary Wood Floor.”