Sunday, March 28, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
I'm making haste slowly on the 2nd floor hall crack filling, piece by piece, bit by bit.
The other day I tried scoring the thin filler strips with a utility knife to split them in half lengthwise. Uh, no. Wood grain is wood grain and it splits where it will. But a scrap wood board set next to the table saw fence allowed me to cut the strips in two, as long as I started them from one end and finished them from the other, to keep my fingers away from the blade. And yes, I use that plastic guard thing that came with the saw.
The first thing is to clean out the cracks. I tried using a dental tool first, but soon found that the angle of an ordinary five-in-one tool works the best. Scrape, scrape, scrape, vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. Scrape some more, vacuum some more. Until finally I can see the surface of the floorboard's tongue.
Or not, if I've miscalculated the fit. Then I have to pry the piece out, wipe it off with a wet rag, then use the plane to remove whatever I need to. Or maybe that's time to select a different size.
Then I take the next smaller size, cut it to the right length, and do it all over again. And again, until the crack is too narrow to accept anymore wood strip. I'm trying to butt the pieces closely but not too snugly end to end with each other. If you don't look at it too closely . . .
Thursday, March 11, 2010
One salutary (Attention! Irony alert!) effect of facing possible cancer is that it focusses one's mind on what's important and on what one can let go. Including when it comes to floor renovations in a 2nd floor hall.
Would it be ideal if I could rip strips of old flooring as long as each individual crack and taper them perfectly to fit, end to end? Yes.
Is it essential that I rip strips of old flooring as long as each individual crack and taper them perfectly to fit, end to end? No.
Could I fill each crack with different widths of wood, depending on how big the gap is? Yes.
And once the floor is shellacked, is anyone going to notice that the strips aren't continuous-- other than me, that is? Not at all.
I have some old floorboards, handily nailed up as blocking around the doorway to my bedroom. So what's stopping me from slicing off what I need from there?
So Monday afternoon I pried one off and hied me and it down to the basement workshop and the table saw, where I cut a selection of filler strip widths. And did not to slice my fingers. And after I got home from choir practice, I nailed the now-slenderized floorboard-blocking back into place.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
See what's poking up:
Monday, March 8, 2010
The old shellac finish and the random paint drips are off and the 3¼ x 7/8 tongue-and-groove yellow pine floorboards are (relatively) bare. No problem.
The next step hasn't been so easy. That's deciding what to do about the gaping cracks between the floorboards. Should I ignore them and say they're part of the house's history? Don't think so. With three cats and a dog, too much gunk gets into them. And sticks out of them. It's filthy. It's nasty underfoot. It looks horrible. In some places the loose tongue has broken off and there's an opening down into the floor-ceiling cavity. Can you just see shellac running down that "drain"? Uh-uh. Unfilled gaps are not an option.
Neither can I take the floorboards up and hammer them back in place correctly, as some websites urge. These boards are subfloor and finish floor in one, and they have an interesting habit of running under the partition walls and into adjacent rooms.
After some investigation, I've rejected commercial wood fillers. Nothing I read tells me they can bear up under floor use. Besides, I wanted something that'd match the existing yellow pine flooring.
The people at This Old House recommend filling the cracks with stained rope. Can you see me at Lowe's, standing there by the rope display, trying to figure out how long of each thickness I was going to need? And the mess of staining it! Besides, that looks better in early 19th century Colonial-type houses, not in 1910s kit-Craftsman foursquares like mine.
So up until recently, my filler of choice was to be sanding dust-- from the floor itself-- mixed in with wood glue. But I've been experimenting with it for the last year or two, using it to fill gouges and missing areas in the wood trim. And I'm not sure how it'll take stain. And oh, it's a bear to sand. It certainly seems to dry hard and inflexible. Some of my gaps are pretty wide. Would my homemade filler come popping out in the summertime?
So, maybe two or three months back, I went on the Internet and entered a search for wood floor crack filler. And someplace I came across a website for an historic house someplace in Virginia or Maryland; I think it was built by one of the framers of the Constitution. And it had a video of a workman plugging the gaps in one of the floors there with long narrow strips of matching wood.
That's the way to go, I thought. I even have the matching wood to use, since my POs-1 used leftover floorboards for blocking around their new openings when they remodelled in the '80s. Trouble is, my cracks aren't uniform in width. They taper from as much as 3/16" at the wide end to almost nothing at the narrow. How was I going to cut strips like that on my table saw? I don't even own a pushstick! And you're asking me to cut long whippy tapers? No thanks. I'd like to keep my fingers.
Then there's the roofing nails some PO toenailed into the gaps to keep the loose floorboards from lifting. I'd glimpsed those pieces of metal sticking up and hoped they were some sort of staple they'd used instead of proper squareheaded flooring nails. No such luck. And no, you can't countersink an angled roofing nail. How could I get wood filler strips to fit over them?
But something had to be done. Stay tuned for what that turned out to be.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Yes, it is. I just didn't connect all the parts right when I last used it two years ago. Mix up the dormant oil and go prevent some spidermite damage!
I'll deal with that later. But not too much later-- I go in for my surgery in less than three weeks and whatever I get done before then is what I get to look at for two weeks, more or less. With no way to do anything about it.