Saturday, September 15, 2012

True fir

It was a long, nasty, ugly job, but I finally refinished the bedroom floor.
The picture above is the "before". Please don't let the revolting mess on the scrap of carpet in the center of the room fool you; most of this house is not as clean as that, and is probably bound together by spilt milk and cat hair.

The explanation for the tatty patch of carpet is tortured, but the shorthand version is that Mojo and I wanted to see what the Former People had done with the floor prior to carpeting it (fearing that they had done as they'd done with the front room, replacing fire-damaged flooring with cheap and nasty particleboard...) so we tore out the strips along the east and north walls.

Exposing, to our relief, the good fir floors that the builders had laid in 1922.


In the interim the wood had been slathered with multiple layers of paint, including what I suspect was the original floor color, a deep red oil-based stuff that deteriorated when treated with paint stripper to a sort of Vile Jelly that stuck to everything.
The first night that Mojo and the Littles were gone I moved all the furniture out and yanked up the remaining carpet before literally getting down on my knees to pull out the thicket of little staples the damn Former People had used to secure their cheap and nasty carpet.

And found that before they had done that, they had slopped a mess of plaster and white paint all over the floor, probably while applying the disgusting "texture" to the ceiling. And stepped all in it, grinding it into the old paint.


Plus the carpet, cheap shit that it was, had absorbed every liquid ever spilt on it (and I don't even want to think about THAT...) and had then produced a rot that had eaten into several portions of the floorboards.


I spent the next week getting home from work and repeatedly stripping and sanding the floor, removing the soft spots, and then applying several coats of polyurethane spar varnish.

And here's the finished work;
I'm ridiculously pleased with the overall effect. The old fir positively glows, and the resulting spare cleanliness appeals to my military soul.
I like the way the new register cover works with it, too.

There are times, usually times like this, when I wonder if I would not have been happier and more satisfied if I had made my living with my hands; been a finish carpenter or a mason.

But then I think of how often I've seen modern builders slap together awful, cheapjack, gimcrack crap and suspect that I'm better off being a house carpenter only to myself.


Lisa said...

What hard work, but what a beautiful result!

I, too, love working with my hands, especially woodworking. What a pleasure it is to reveal whatever lay underneath layers of misguided coverings. I feel I am liberating something -- and in the process, myself.

I also love the meditative effect of routine, repetitive woodwork, like sanding and stripping. I had a dream as a 15-y-o to go to Cinque Terra to join a family chair-making company that was at risk of dying out after generations! I read about in Smithsonian, I think, and romantically carved out my imaginary life:

I would labor by day, learning the trade, and would sit on the cliffs by late afternoon, reading and writing poetry. I would be a bit of a hermit ... but would be open to a dashing suitor, one who wouldn't judge a chairmaker too harshly for her trade.

Lisa said...

(ee gads -- pls. remove my comment fr. J's acct.!)

FDChief said...

Done, my dear artisan.

I ply with all the cunning of my art
This little thing, and with consummate care
I fashion it—so that when I depart,
Those who come after me shall find it fair
And beautiful. It must be free of flaws—
Pointing no laborings of weary hands;
And there must be no flouting of the laws
Of beauty—as the artist understands.

Through passion, yearnings infinite—yet dumb—
I lift you from the depths of my own mind
And gild you with my soul’s white heat to plumb
The souls of future men. I leave behind
This thing that in return this solace gives:
“He who creates true beauty ever lives.”

~ Marcus Christian

Lisa said...

Thank you for sharing that breathtaking verse on beauty, the artist and his passion.

I truly believe that it is in those creations, whether tactile or of a more evanescent nature, that we live on. Through such finely wrought effort is the only way to gain immortality. I feel it is always personal, and very real.