Sunday, September 26, 2010

Back to the Salt Mines

I mean, back to sanding stair treads.

The new sander came a week or so ago, but I'd decided I'd had enough of correspondence and receipts and paperwork all piled helter-skelter since last January on every surface in my 3rd floor study.  And all over the bedroom, since my operation last April.  I simply could not bear the thought of redraping my study with plastic dropcloths with that muddle of papers hiding under them.  What if I needed some letter or bill?  I'm supposed to go searching, with sanding dust all over the sheeting covering the paper mess?  No, before I could go back to sanding it all had to be sorted and put into the file drawers where it belonged. 
Never mind the number of days I spent doing (or not doing) that.  It's done, and if I need a particular piece of paper, it's in its file.  Under the newly-draped plastic.

Since I no longer had that excuse not to-- I mean, since that task was out of the way and I could now sand, last night (Friday) I took up the new Bosch half-sheet orbital sander and got back to it.

And remembered why I hated the job.

Why, oh why, does it take three steady hours with 40-grit paper to take ninety years worth of crud off one blinking stair tread?  And that was one that had been started before!  And was clear of shellac. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth . . .  Damn!  if I weren't Protestant I'd think I was doing penance for something. 

But the thing I feel most guilty about is not having this sanding done a lot sooner, which would make the penance be what I was supposed to be doing anyway.

Today and this evening (Saturday) I finished rough-sanding the three bottom treads.  But 10:30 PM found me across at the neighbors' watching the fireworks the next borough over was shooting off for their 75th anniversary celebration.  Got to talking about the work I was doing on the stairs and all, and the husband said, "Do you have a belt sander?"  "Yes, I do.  But I'm not using it for this.  I can't keep up with it, it gets away from me, and it leaves gouges."  "Oh," he says, "you just have to hold it down to keep it in one place.  It'll take that stuff off in no time."

Well.  When the fireworks were over and I got back to work, I gave it a good thought about getting out the belt sander, regardless.  The bottom tread has some deep scratches in it, made I have no idea how.  Don't think a dog did it, they're with the grain.  A kid running some wheeled toy across it?  I don't know.  Maybe the belt sander would be the best thing.

On the other hand, maybe the belt sander would take so much wood off I wouldn't have any tread left.  So I finished up with the half-sheet sander after all.

(Which, I have discovered, you have to be careful to get the lid firmly back onto the dust-catching cartridge after you've emptied it, or the dust will escape and go everywhere.)

By a little after midnight all the treads of the stairway to the 3rd floor had reached Good Enough stage.  Next thing is to clean up (and in some cases, restore) the bullnose on them.  Once that's done, I'll top up the unsandable pits and gouges with wood filler.

Which considering my schedule, may not be till Wednesday.  We'll see.

Then I get to break out the 80-grit paper and, oh joy, start sanding again.

(Somebody just beat me with sticks, will ya?  It'll make a welcome change.)

1 comment:

Larry said...

The stairs are looking GREAT!!!

I can relate with the piles of stuff sitting around needing to be gone through. I have several of those I need to attend. I'll have to wait till the house is painted though.