Monday, September 04, 2006

Stairway to Hell

Like I mentioned in my last post, I was going to start sanding the steps to the second floor of our house this weekend. And I have. Here's the "before" picture (I'll publish the "after" picture if that day ever comes).

They may look like they're in decent shape, but they're really very worn and in desperate need of a refinishing.

First let me say this - houses built in 1941 are cool - especially their woodwork. But whatever crap they used in those days to cover the woodwork is NOT cool! I don't know if it's varnish, lacquer, shellac or straight tree sap, but whatever it is - IT SUCKS!!!

My first instinct was to just begin sanding the steps with my slick new orbital palm sander. However, after 15 minutes of vibrating to the oldies, all I had managed to do was "scuff" the surface. Like I said, I don't know what secret formula was in those finishes back in the 40's, but I do know it don't come off!

Next, I thought I'd try chemicals. Not for me, for the steps. I had used Bix in the past at my first house and it worked great there. My only problem is I have a severe sensitivity to chemical odors so I have to really need them before I'll use them. In other words, the results have to be worth the massive headache.

So I globbed on the goo and let it sit. Thirty minutes later I came back and scraped the brown sludge off the wood and into a disposable container - so I could put it outside immediately. But you know what? It barely did anything. I've never had such a disappointing experience with a stripper before in my life. Well, except for one lap dance gone wrong - but that's another story you won't hear about.

Finally, I decided it wasn't worth it to fry my brain and went back to the sander. I put on some heavier grit and took my time. Sure enough, only 1 1/2 hours later I had an entire step completed!

Looking down on the first completed step. Step #2 in progress.

So that's where I am right now. I figure if I complete one step a day I'll be done in... 12 days.

Hmmm, considering the fact this job involves chemicals and strippers - I guess it doesn't surprise me this is a 12-step project. And I've already admitted I have a problem...



Waya said...

What an appropriate title to this post. And I have to say that your wife is one lucky lady!! And they must have used "tree saps" is right! Would not want to be in your shoes though.

Jennine said...

While I was growing up, my parents had me convinced that Labor Day was the one day of the year we worked the hardest. I had no clue people vacationed or took the day OFF of work on Labor Day.

So based on my experience, I suggest you give this whole "Stairway to Hell" job to your son so that he'll have something to blog about one day.

Mooselet said...

You could simply tear down the old stairway and put up a new, unfinished one. Who needs to get upstairs anyway? :-)

I don't envy you.

yellojkt said...

I'd go back to the alcohol based chemicals and the strippers with pasties and give up on the stairs.

Anonymous said...

Reachers proved that playing a fast musical background beat speeded up production on the assembly line. Your job might go faster with a brisk musical beat. Naturally it should be the two step !!!

Heather said...

Oh yuck. That does NOT sound like fun.

I spent the morning on my new exercise bike, trying to burn some calories. Then I spent the afternoon in the basement, cleaning out junk so I have someplace to put my new bike.

Apparently we haven't learned that Labor Day doesn't really mean you're supposed to work.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

waya - Gee, and what a pleasant name it is too. Can you tell that I had just finished with 4 hours of frustrating pain-in-the-ass work when I wrote and named this post?

jennine - Ha! Nice try. If you think sanding the steps is a project try getting my son to do it! That in itself would be way harder.

mooselet - Hmmm, you might be on to something there. It probably would be easier - and way more fun for sure.

yello - And I had BETTER enjoy it, cause it would be the LAST thing I ever did!

dad - Good one! I'll give it a 7 cause I like the beat.

heather - I know. But this is "last chance weekend." Before too long we'll be making excuses that we can't do anything because we're too busy with the kids' schedules or it's too cold outside etc.

Bugwit said...

Nice-looking wood on those steps. It should turn out nice. Eventually.