Back in the summer when I made up the shellac sample for my floors, I used a piece of floorboard that my previous owners two back had pressed into service as a shim piece when they moved the front bedroom door. It sanded down very quickly, and I thought the boards in the 2nd floor hall would be the same.
Um, well, no.
As of last night, I've been at the floor sanding game for portions of three days, and I can't claim to be even 15% done. Something to do with the fact that the shim board was obviously unused, whereas people have been walking on this floor and grinding dirt into it for nearly a hundred years?
But let's take it in order.
Thursday I got to the sanding. I hung plastic over the doors in a symbolic attempt to keep the dust out of the bedroom, bathroom, and 3rd floor, and off I went with my belt sander with the 80-grit paper! The idea being to take off the high places of the cupped floorboards.
More depressing, just that little bit of work put a lot of crud in the sanding belt. And those things are expensive. Enough of that. Take it back downstairs and put it away.
At the same time, I noticed that some of the bigger holes I'd filled the previous Saturday had sunk in, so I topped them off before I went to bed.
Yesterday I actually looked online to see if it was possible to rent a small floor sander. But the sites talking about technique all blithely admitted that it's very likely that an amateur like me is going to inflict a few circular gouges before getting the hang of the thing, and my hallway's too small to practice on.
But something different has got to be done. I believe in taking the time needed to do a project well, but this is ridiculous. So around midnight I cleaned up, went downstairs, and got online again. This time I looked up "Good belt sander technique." And found what looks like a very good article on the American Woodworker website called "Tame Your Belt Sander." And the most useful thing I learned from it was that not only is it okay to run the machine at a 45 degree angle across the boards you're trying to level, it's absolutely advised. Oh, yes, and that you should always lift the sander vertically off the work piece at the end of the run and never turn it off or on while it's on the surface. And that you can clean up gunky belts with an abrasive stick or with a wire brush. Which I have.
(Oh. Guess I should fish those used ones out of the trash . . . )
But as to what I was saying about ignorance. I was roaming around other sites to see what else they could teach me, and I came across this forum, wherein a hapless would-be DIYer asks,
"I have no idea how to refinish wood floors, but ours need it. I suppose you rent a sander and buy materials at Home Depot or someplace similar. Anyone ever done it? Any advice? Thanks!"
And damned if all but one or two of the many replies didn't say, "Hire it out!" "It will take forever!" "It'll cripple your knees!" "It'll ruin your back!" "Hire it out!" Probably the most pungent (if not putrid) of them wryly suggested, "Have s*x with the moldering corpse of a goat. Why? It will seem like a day at the beach compared to sanding your [own] floors."
Funny, the typical houseblogger seems to be of sterner stuff. Unless everybody else is hiring out their floor sanding and just not saying?
Well, I doubt I could get anybody to come do my little hall. And I doubt even more if I'd trust anybody else to do it. So I need to invest in a few more belts for the Hitachi, and some more 40-grit hook-and-loop paper for the B&D mouse, and just keep at it. And definitely some more wood filler. I found more holes and cracks that needed filling last night and the tub is empty.