Thursday, March 13, 2008

A Melluva Hess

Yesterday I pried seven more pieces of wood trim off the walls, but had time to get only one of them stripped.

It was a piece of door casing from my first floor stairhall, a piece I'd actually started to work on four years ago. The lip of the seat of my hallway bench overlaps this by a good inch and a half, so I couldn't just pry it forward off the wall. I'd gone after it in place with regular paste paint remover, and then I'd tried the Howard's refinishing liquid. With limited luck in both cases, since I was trying to keep the remover off the bench, which didn't need stripped.

So this casing piece has been gapping crazily off the wall since February of 2004.

Yesterday evening I worked out that if I could get behind it and cut the lowest nail, I could pull the trim piece out sideways, perpendicular from the bench.

Success! Though admittedly, it did pull a couple splinters off the lip of the bench seat. I'll have to glue them back on.

Started actually stripping a little before 10:00 last night, figuring I'd get that one piece done pretty quickly and maybe two or three others beside, before time to pack it in and go to bed.

Ha! That trim piece was and is a mess! There was ingrained dirt that consumed an hour of scrubbing, several ounces of refinisher, a lot of steel wool, and a new pair of rubber gloves-- and still refused to come out. Pieces of wood the size of a man's thumbnail missing all along the bottom where the piece sits on its plinth. More chips and splinters missing up top where it meets the lintel. Half to three-quarter inch long spackle-filled ditches where some bright soul (not I!) once pulled the nails out frontways. And on the narrow edge towards the doorway, at about bench level, a handsome row of hammer head dents, apparently from someone's having forced the casing back into place between the wall and the end of the bench.

I had to think hard about it. Did I perpetrate that? No way! Even if I'd knocked the casing back in when I couldn't get it off the time I tried before, I certainly would have used my rubber-headed mallet, not a claw hammer.

I went ahead and stripped it, but I may, just may substitute a different piece when I put things back together. Because yesterday I also discovered that the casing on the portal between my living room and my front room is 3/4" narrower than that between the living room and dining room. It looks spindly and weak and leaves too wide a reveal at the jamb. It's not original-- it appears to be what was put up when the porch was closed in and the old front window made into a six foot wide doorway. I'm going to see if I can find some wider casing for that doorway-- which means I can move a piece from there into the hall.

Might be a better plan than filling all those chips and holes and hoping the new dark finish covers it all . . .

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