Thursday, September 26, 2013

Baby Blues

Room makeover in progress! To catch up on the project, read:

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Oh sure, to the untrained eye, this post seems to be filled with weird photos of scrappy-looking piles of lumber in some random garage.

To me, these skinny strips of wood are my babies, my offspring, midwifed in a three-day session of dramatic twists and turns. Like any new mother, I feel compelled to give you the details on my delivery.

Don't worry. I promise it won't get weird.

On Sunday afternoon, I went out to the garage to begin my labor. I found an unruly heap of woodwork - baseboards, chair rails, and crown molding. Stripped off the walls for some much needed maintenance as part of my home office remodel, the pieces were riddled with dings and bumps and dog scratches galore. There were globs and blobs and smears of wall paint from projects in the past.

{I used to be a sloppy painter. I'm better now.}

But the point here is that I realized that this wood and I were due for a long and protracted session with my electric sander. So I set up my saw horses and went to work.

Sanding operations proceeded smoothly. I had plowed my way through about two-thirds of the pile, not only smoothing away the imperfections but wiping each piece down with a damp cloth, when my sander died.

Yep. First, it roared dangerously. Then, it wobbled wildly, practically gyrating out of my hand. I turned it off and called for my mechanic, who found ball bearings rolling around in the motor where they weren't supposed to be.

You know that can't be good.

So I performed last rites, delivered a eulogy, and buried the dead body in the trash. Then I tucked my lumber into bed for the night by covering up the finished pieces with a drop cloth, in the hopes it would stay sweet and clean and perfectly dust-free.

You know how sometimes you get a really great idea and feel so smart for thinking ahead...and then things go all wonky and suddenly that brilliant plan blows up in your face?

Yeah. The next day, after I bought the new sander and finished up the remaining pieces, I pulled the drop cloth off the already-done pieces to find...mildew.

The drop cloth, which was supposed to save me time and trouble by keeping my lumber safe through the night, had apparently trapped in the moisture introduced by my wipe-down procedure, and set up petri-dish-perfect conditions for mildew spores.

Doggone it. Ok, so possible solutions? Clearly, I could sand the spots off. But honestly, at this point, I was not looking for more quality time with my sander. As a Plan B, there are some spray cleaners formulated for removing mildew that have worked wonders in my bathroom, and I decided to give that idea a try. Oh wait. Suddenly, I remembered that I had recently used up the last of my mildew spray, so this option was going to require a trip to the store.

On Monday evening around 11:30 pm.

But you know what, gosh darn it, I am not about to be outsmarted by a dumb drop cloth and damp wood. So I went to not one but two stores to find mildew spray. I went home, hosed down a test piece with this magical solution, and left matters alone till morning.

A quick inspection the next day revealed that the mildew stains were indeed gone...but the spray had discolored the wood severely enough to guessed it, more sanding.

Well, my path was clear. The Universe had clearly won this round, so I got out my sander and resanded the six or eight pieces afflicted with mildew, removing those nasty spots. It wasn't that bad.

Finally ready to move on to the next stage of the process, I reached for my handy-dandy oft-used can of oak stain...and found it was empty.


Yet, as any new mother will attest, the worst pain happens just before the end, and so it was for my woodwork.

By Wednesday afternoon, I was holding a full quart of stain and a new paintbrush in my hands, and within a couple hours, every last piece of trim was looking fresh and pretty. Hallelujah.

Of course, I still have to apply two coats of clear finish to protect my newly rejuvenated wood, but that should be easy.

Seriously, what could go wrong?

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