Thursday, February 21, 2008

Front Door Project: the Abrasive Story

Mom and I worked on the door a bit more the other day because the weather was nice. After an application of chemical stripper, much patient, diligent scrubbing with stiff bristled brushes (mom) and whining, stomping, and a hasty once-over scrub (me), I declared we were done with the stripper. I've had enough of this project. Remind me to thank my grandfather for thinning his paint and applying it in so many tissue thin layers.


We pulled out the big guns. Now we were finally seeing some results. I started with 60 grit on the orbital sander, then moved to 100 grit. Mom played around with her new 3D sander, which has three small rotating discs that flex; nice if you are working on something curved. Think men's electric razor. I guess I should have snapped a picture of it in action, but we were both tired by then.

The sanders made pretty quick work of those last two stubborn layers. Makes me wonder if we shouldn't have broken out the sanders earlier in the game. We flipped the door and gave the other side a quick wipe down with the denatured alcohol. For some reason I had it in my head that there was shellac on this side, not sure why. Turns out that's not the case, so all the denatured alcohol did was take off the top layer of dirt. I'll let Jack worry about what to do here.

Speaking of Jack, we expect him to pay us a visit any day now. He'll come and pick up the "new" front door, and the shiny new storm/screen door. Jack will take them back to his workshop, do his magic and when he returns them they'll both match in color and both look shiny new. I'm not sure exactly how he'll get the stained side to match, or anything about his process, but quite frankly at this point I don't care, just so long as someone else takes this project off my hands. Mom and I have done as much as we have the skills and patience for. Now it is up to Jack. I'm sure I won't feel as surly about the front door by the time it is returned to us, so maybe I'll ask Jack about his process. Then I can share that part of the saga with all of you.

p.s. for my friends and family who only read my blog to see pictures of Oliver, sorry to disappoint today, but chemicals, power tools, and puppies don't mix.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Keeping warm this winter

For those days when the weather acts like it is supposed to in the winter, and it is bitter cold out, Oli wears his sweater. It is complete coincidence that it just so happens to match my coat. I swear! Mom bought that sweater for our black lab Arthur after he had surgery. They had shaved his whole underside, and we were bringing him home on one of the coldest nights I can ever remember. It was windy and the temperature was around 3 degrees- that is cold, even for Pennsylvania. Well, he never really liked wearing the sweater, so it was tossed in a box with other doggie things and forgotten until Oliver came on the scene several years later. Mom dug through the boxes of Arthur's old things the night that Oliver arrived, just seven weeks old. Of course, it didn't fit him then, and it was August, but somehow the doggie sweater ended up in a box of Oliver stuff in my basement.

Flash forward two years, to this winter. Aside from freakishly warm weather, we have had several days of downright bitter cold. Oli didn't even want to go outside to do his business, and when we told him he had to, he would give us dirty looks, dash out, do what he needed to do, and run right back to the door. The neighbors probably think we neglect this poor dog, the way he looks when he is huddled up against the door, waiting to be let in.

So one day, after observing this behaviour, Lewis says, "that dog needs a sweater or something." And I remembered this thing being in that box in the basement. So I dashed down the stairs, calling Oli to follow me. He stiffly, but patiently, waited for me to put this contraption on him, first backwards, then misaligning the buttons, and fixing them. He gave me reproachful looks, but I sent him back upstairs to show his daddy.
We made a big fuss over him every time we put the sweater on him for the next couple of days, and pretty soon he accepted it. He realized it keeps him warmer when he is outside, so he can stay out and sniff his yard and bark at things like he usually does. Plus everyone makes over him, telling him how cute or handsome he is, and he just lapps up the attention.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow dog

We woke up to a thin blanket of snow this morning. Oliver helped Lewis clean off the cars and shovel the front walk.

I've learned that it is much easier to clear snow that no one has tramped through rather than to wait till the snow has stopped, then try to remove it. Our borough requires one shovel width to be cleared within 24 hours after the snow stops falling. Yeah, right. After the first year (never had to deal with this kind of shovelling at mom's house out in the country) I now go out several times to clear the sidewalk. And I usually clear the entire width, because you just know that some idiot is going to walk through the unshovelled snow right next to the nicely cleared path. I don't want to be responsible if that idiot falls and hurts himself.

Mom stopped to let Oli out this afternoon, and she cleared the sidewalks. It looks like she swept it with a broom, it is still light enough to do that, although the forecast says it is going to turn to freezing rain later. Good stuff.

Then when I got home (early), Oliver went out front with me to help with the third clearing.
As you can see, he was immensely helpful at tearing up the freebie newspaper
that got caught in the pile of snow on my shovel.

He also likes to clear my shovel of snow. I scrape the shovel toward him, then he "digs" the snow off the blade of the shovel with his front paws. It is like a game. Fun for puppy, less lifting for me. This actually works well when the snow is that heavy stuff.

On another note, the sidewalk is probably going to need to be replaced within the next few years, and while I'm not looking forward to the expense, it should make shovelling easier with less broken bits and cracks to catch the blade.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Front Door Update

We had some freakishly warm weather this past Wednesday, considering it is February in Pennsylvania. It was blustery, but with temperatures in the low 60s, mom and I couldn't ignore the siren call of the stripping project we started more than a month ago, when we had temperatures in the high 50s in January.

So we hauled out the chemical stripper, orange gloves, and all manner of scrapers. The door, saw horses, and drop cloths were all still out on the front porch, 'cause we're klassy like that.

We set up, and got through two or three layers of stripper. I can't remember which. Mom was doing most of the work, while I was scraping and whining. The wind made it feel like it was in the 40s, not the 60s. My mom is such a good sport.

When we were done, we wiped it all down with mineral spirits, and decided that our next move would be to take the sander to all the flat parts. The sanding I am pretty good at. As for the mullions, I think they are going to get slatered with chemicals a couple more times. I've heard that they make special scrappers for curves and small corners. I must look into this.
You may have noticed that we didn't strip the bottom panel. Well there is good reason for that. As many people suspected, it is in fact a veneer over four vertical boards. I truly don't know how we overlooked it before. I feel kind of silly now, it is so obvious. So since the bottom panel's veneer is so damaged, it will just need to be replaced. Keep in mind, this is the bottom of what was the exterior when it was on my grandparent's house. At the bungalow, it will be on the interior, and the only moisture it will be subject to are Oli nose prints!
Speaking of Oliver, he is anxious for us to complete this project so that he can once again be allowed out on his front porch.