Floor

First of all. HOLY *&^%$#@!!!!

The noise! The mess! The dust! The smell!

The guys showed up two and a half hours late and I was already beside myself. This reno is on a short leash, organizationally speaking, and there is no room for people to mess with my plan. These guys show up and they drag in all of this absolutely huge noisy equipment and start hunting around for somewhere to plug it in.

“Hey lady? Where’s your stove?” Stove? Turns out that the huge noisy machine needs a special kind of plug. I’ve got a gas stove, so no luck there. Next try?

“Hey lady? Where’s your dryer?” Oh dear. I have a gas dryer. Next try? They lop the plug off the sander and hook this brobdingnagian beast of a thing directly (as in with bare wires) into the electric box in the basement, WITHOUT SHUTTING THE POWER OFF. Now, I am married to a man who talks blithely about how many volts he can take, but Joe would never, ever, ever put a screwdriver into the Main Electric Box without shutting off the power. Ever. I was agog, and completely beside myself. I stood near to the guy (wooden broom in my hand so that I could knock his seizing body from the box when the ten million volts of pure power coursed through him) and tried vainly to dissuade him from this action.

“Dude, isn’t that a little bit dangerous? Sticking that there screwdriver into the electric box without shutting it off? Isn’t that the main power? Isn’t that a lot of volts? I can turn it off. Why don’t I do that. I’ll get a flashlight for you and we’ll shut it off before you stick any more screwdrivers into it and then I won’t have to call 911 when you totally electrocute yourself right here where it’s going to be trouble to get your carcass up the stairs. Yes. Hold one. I’ll just get that flashlight. Oh my. Was that sparks? Just give me a minute. Look! Here’s my flashlight. Why don’t you take that screwdriver out… ”

I just kept babbling and he kept wiring and the thing was hooked up. I immediately turned my attention toward being concerned about the disconnection process, but was distracted by the noise. I was unprepared for the noise. The noise was like a bee the size of an elephant was in therapy for anger management in my bedroom. Periodically, the machine shuddering the whole house would shut off and random cursing would drift down along with clouds and clouds of dust. The dust… I cannot even speak of the dust.

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Just when I had adjusted to the dust and the noise and the swearing, one of the three guys went sprinting down my stairs and out the front door with what seemed to be something on fire. When I responded (quickly and with a great deal of anxiety, to the smoke pouring through the dust) and enquired about the possibility of a fire, I was told not to worry, since the fire was “Just a small size one and only for a little while.” The three guys regarded me with an eye that indicated that they felt that I worry (about things like fires and electrocution) way, way too much. I would have had a lie down at that point, except of course, I have no bed.

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At this point, this blog entry should have ended with little more than this. It should be that all I can say now is that they packed up and left me with what was left of my nerves, which they did…right after depositing two big garbage bags of sawdust squarely on the front garden.

I regarded those two bags with some sadness, since it’s a week until garbage day and those bags will sit there being an eyesore until then, but unbeknownst to me, the bags had more drama than that. Inside one of those bags was a small fire, left over from when the sander bag had been on fire earlier in the day.

I realized that the bag was full of smouldering sawdust when I came back from buying urathane and noticed that the smell of burning sawdust was stronger outside the front door than inside it. (That was saying something, since the smell in the house is a powerful thing.) I lifted the bag and the bottom fell out, and there was a heap of smoking, reeking sawdust. I poured some water on it and went inside, disaster averted. About an hour later, a neighbour knocked on the door to ask me if I meant to be burning a garbage bag full of sawdust in my garden? I doused it again. Considerably more pissed off this time, and (as you can well imagine) I had a great deal of trouble finding my mental happy place.

An hour later, Joe’s sister Kelly came by, coming into the house, discussing urathane for a while, helping me with a thing or two, then casually asking (I must have looked a little edgy) if I was aware that the bags on the garden were on fire? I went back out, and sure enough, there it was. Burning away…smoke issuing into the stupid cold night air. This time I was determined, as well as using language unbecoming a knitter. I broke open the bag, poured water on it, and then Rachel (who had turned up to bring me beer, she’s a woman who knows what you really need at the end of a long day of floor trauma) helped me shovel it from one bag to the other, looking for any bit that was on fire and pouring water on the lot of it. We stood out there, freezing and stomping and pouring (and noticing that once it’s 40 below even cold water from the tap steams outside) and I was not amused. I was furious…I was ranting inside my head (and perhaps a little outside my head) about incompetence and fires and houses that have newspaper stuffed in the walls and how that was a huge risk and how I Was. Not. Pleased and how this was a very difficult day and how there was nothing, not even the beer that could fix my attitude at this point ….when suddenly it hit me. I practically skipped into the house leaving Rachel standing in the cold, bewildered…

Rachelfire0704

I grabbed my camera and ran back out beaming from ear to ear to grab this snap of Rachel H. She was freezing and really not at all amused (I am certain that in this picture she cannot feel her hands) that I was lengthening the time we would be in the elements, but I was completely gleeful. Didn’t she get it?

MY LAWN IS A SAWDUST FIRE.

You can’t make that up. It’s a blog gimmee….it’s freaking perfect. Who has a sawdust lawn fire? Seriously – how could you not blog it? It’s an entry all by itself. Man. Couldn’t be better. Practically writes itself. My joy is restored.

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All said, the floor is much, much more beautiful than I thought it would be (totally worth the fire) and once it’s got 4 (FOUR) layers of urathane on it it should only be more so…but dudes. The house is trashed. There is dust in the bathroom. Dust in the living room. Dust on the dishes in the cupboards in the kitchen. Dust, dust…dust. You will be relieved to know that there is not dust on the Bohus, since I was possessed of a swift intelligence when I saw the first of the dust coming and sealed it in a protective Ziplock. It may be the only non-dusty thing in the house.

Considering my track record on dusting…this much dust is an unfortunate (and likely permanent) turn of events.

Today: Get ceiling paint. Paint the ceiling. Sand the first coat of urathane on the floor. Put a second coat on. Buy more beer.

May the force be with me, and if you’re walking by my house today, do me a favour and toss a shovel full of snow on those bags, will ya? You can’t be too careful. Sawdust is apparently very hard to put out.

310 thoughts on “Floor

  1. Yeesh, who were those guys? Floor guys aren’t the brightest. I think the fumes go to their heads.

  2. Wow, what an eventful evening! Makes me glad I am sitting here knitting a sock *reading* about home improvement. This just furthers my resolve to keep knitting and NOT remodel.

  3. The floor’s georgeous and the sawdust (including the fire bit) will totally be worth it in the end, I’m sure! Maybe it’ll be like labor pains, and you’ll completely forget about it after you see your beautiful new baby, er, floor. : )

  4. Stephanie, the floors ALREADY look beautiful. The final result promises to be outstanding. And the dust? Maybe time to arm the girls with dustcloths, two to a room, and make a party of it. Perhaps with a reward along the lines of something really really bad for them…ice cream?
    Oh, yeah, and with the new, smooth, even floor, there will be no danger of snagging yarn when you use the floorspace to store your knitted garments and works in progress. In other words, in the long run, this week of remodeling hell will save you loads of housekeeping time–just toss the scarf or hat or Bohus on the floor, and go.

  5. OMG! I’m snorting trying not to giggle too loudly. My coworker would not get it!
    Sawdust fire, not fun, but truly awesome blogging material! LOL It will all be worth it in the end, when that floor is as beautiful as it should be, and as you and Joe deserve it to be! When you are done at your house, I think you should come to Montana and help me with mine!

  6. Ah yes, the power of the “bloggable moment” to turn tears of rage and frustration into a gleeful dash for the camera. I’ve been known to do that – such a great ready-made “healthy coping mechanism”.
    The floor looks stunningly lovely, by the way. Totally worth the dust.

  7. Ah yes, the power of the “bloggable moment” to turn tears of rage and frustration into a gleeful dash for the camera. I’ve been known to do that – such a great ready-made “healthy coping mechanism”.
    The floor looks stunningly lovely, by the way. Totally worth the dust.

  8. My dad used to sand floors, and he told me that every floor he sanded took a year off his life from the stuff he breathed in. Apparently in the case of the guys you hired, each floor they have sanded killed off several million brain cells. I think I would have called them to come and collect their burning sawdust! At least you have snow on the ground. Down here that sawdust would have burned down the whole neighborhood . . .

  9. Nooo….. After having fought with the air conditioning-water boiler system guys for half a year, I can totally understand you. I gave up complaining for the rest of the damage they caused and decided to renovate the place myself next summer. Thank god it’s not even a square meter.
    Knit, lady, knit. It helps πŸ™‚

  10. My husband decided that he would redo the entire downstairs flooring when my daugther was 1 month old. It was february. Cold. LOUD, smelly, well you know.
    I threatened to hurt him. I mean, that was divorceworthy right there. I just have such a huge heart I guess.

  11. That is the funniest thing I have read in a loooooong time. Plugging it right into the electrical box? Starting a (small size) fire and leaving one as well? I can just hear those guys now, “Can you beleive this lady didn’t have a 220V outlet?” That has any of my remodel stories beat. Even the one where my dog pulled a fosilized rat out of the wall. You just live adventure don’t you?

  12. I wonder if burnt-up sawdust makes good garden compost? You could have stunning flowers come spring if you just leave it there πŸ™‚

  13. Oh, the floor does look really wonderful, though! I wouldn’t have guessed it was so pretty under all that crap. The rest will all fall into place (slowly, and with much elbow grease, so perhaps “fall into place” isn’t putting it quite right). The great thing about working so hard on house stuff is that it is hard to retain much of a memory of hard work. I mean, yeah, you’ll remember “doing that floor was a real bitch,” but the memory won’t be quite strong enough to keep you from embarking on subsequent remodeling projects. That’s how it goes at our house, anyway!

  14. After moving into a house where all of the cutting for the trimwork was done INSIDE, I can tell you one thing: you’ll need to wash the walls and ceiling before you can paint them. There is now a fine layer of sawdust everywhere–and I wouldn’t recommend trying to paint over it. (It would be blogworthy–but in a horrid, nightmare beyond your worst nightmare kind of way.)
    My aunt used to pay me to wash her walls & ceilings once a year (during the summer, when I was home from University), and she’d have me drape a wet rag over the end of a damp mop and swab the ceilings and walls with that. It went suprisingly fast–and yours should too, after you’re done vacuuming the walls & ceiling.
    Best of luck to you . . . and if you don’t have a canister vaccuum with a long wand, I’d recommend calling a friend or three to bring theirs over.
    Hang in there. It’s going to look awesome!

  15. “The noise was like a bee the size of an elephant in therapy for anger management ” is the the funniest statement and did more for my recovery from this vicious virus than any antibiotic I have taken. Thank you for a much needed laugh..and..your floor is beautiful.

  16. Too late now to warn you to SEAL the bedroom doorway with plastic while they sand the floor –sorry== if I had commented yesterday I would have mentioned it. Not too late to let you know that that urethane has an abnoxious odour and the windows should be open and the door shut or sealed till the darn stuff dries . Either that or you will be on a trip with out leaving the house or taking anything. At any rate the floor is some BEAUTIFUL–LOVE old pine floors ,they don’t make em like that anymore . GOOD job Stephanie. Sawdust fires can smolder on for ages keep a close watch on the sucker. GOOD LUCK-it’ll soon be done and you will enjoy the room for many years to come.

  17. That is the funniest thing I have read in a loooooong time. Plugging it right into the electrical box? Starting a (small size) fire and leaving one as well? I can just hear those guys now, “Can you beleive this lady didn’t have a 220V outlet?” That has any of my remodel stories beat. Even the one where my dog pulled a fosilized rat out of the wall. You just live adventure don’t you?

  18. Have you never sawed one little piece of lumber and had a house full of dust? That is all it takes to coat everything in sight!!Ask me how I know…………..a whole floor’s worth must be truly magnificent. Do your neighbors ever wonder about you and the things that go on at your house?

  19. Now, some people are happy to watch the parade of life travel slowly before them and some are not.
    Some stand cautiously aside and let the raging bulls pass – but you can just never guess which ones (my experience has been that the quiet ones are more prone to and the ‘rule’ followers find an occasion to throw caution to the wind, at times ) will be consumed with a wild desire and jump on and ride it home.
    Ride on!

  20. DO NOT forget to change your furnace filter!!
    Buy the cheapo ones and change them once a week until you notice the dust on them has been reduced, then switch to high efficiency one.
    Really, no point in dusting until it all settles out of the air. πŸ™‚
    Also, you realize that the problems you had putting out the fire was because the sawdust was laden with petroleum-based waxes or urethane? At least those guys were smart enough to know that the bags had to be put outside. It could have burned down your house.

  21. OMYHELL – I had three coworkers over here reading your entry on sawdust lawn fire because I was laughing too hard to explain it to them. One of them looked at me, laughing too, and said, “And this is one of the *knitting* blogs you read?”
    Glad to know you’re safe though!

  22. Have you never sawed one little piece of lumber and had a house full of dust? That is all it takes to coat everything in sight!!Ask me how I know…………..a whole floor’s worth must be truly magnificent. Do your neighbors ever wonder about you and the things that go on at your house?

  23. yes, but that is some beautiful floor.
    make sure you throw a rug over it before you put the bed back……y’know, to keep from scratching it. cause THEN you’ll be pissed.

  24. I grew up in a house, part of it as old as yours, the other part at least 100 years older. When we were renovating, we also found newspaper insulation, from 1930, which means it was an “improvement”. In the same walls, we found stripped electical wire, live wire,…at which point you just have to be grateful for the possiblities that didn’t happen.

  25. Well, if you ever refinish any of the other floors in your house, now you’ll know to put plastic sheeting over EVERYTHING. We put sheeting everywhere for wallpaper removal because we had to use an electric sander to get the rest of the damn wallpaper paste off the walls. Dust is terribly bad for heating systems, so if you’ve got a furnace that takes a filter, better go clean it or change it. A sawdust garden fire was bad enough, I don’t want your house to burn down, too!
    You know, instead of old newspapers, wouldn’t it be great if you could figure out a way to insulate the house with wool and still have a way to have it easily accessible for knitting emergencies?
    I am extremely envious of your newly finished floor, it’s gorgeous!

  26. Oh heck, you have the rest of your life to dust! At our house we had a “helper” who hoovered up some sparks and set fire to the vacuum cleaner, so don’t feel too alone. The floor looks great–congratulations on letting your spirit move you to do the (seemingly) impossible. You are woman.

  27. Oh heck, you have the rest of your life to dust! At our house we had a “helper” who hoovered up some sparks and set fire to the vacuum cleaner, so don’t feel too alone. The floor looks great–congratulations on letting your spirit move you to do the (seemingly) impossible. You are woman.

  28. Oh heck, you have the rest of your life to dust! At our house we had a “helper” who hoovered up some sparks and set fire to the vacuum cleaner, so don’t feel too alone. The floor looks great–congratulations on letting your spirit move you to do the (seemingly) impossible. You are woman.

  29. So, um, obviously Floor Guy has ALREADY been electrocuted a few times; thus the short circuit in his brain.
    Maybe this is a US litigious reflex, but seriously, I would be getting a percentage of my money back (or putting a stop payment on the check/credit card until said credit issued) for having someone leave not one, but TWO fires in my yard.
    The floor is looking gorgeous and yes, that white Ikea bookcase is going to have to go at some point in favor of something natural!

  30. That story is PRICELESS! You couldn’t make up a story any more hysterical than that.
    But the floor looks WAY better!

  31. Thank you for not being on fire, and for preventing your house or your neighbor’s house or your local urban forest from being on fire. Houses and people are so much more fun when they are not now nor ever previously on fire.

  32. Thank you for not being on fire, and for preventing your house or your neighbor’s house or your local urban forest from being on fire. Houses and people are so much more fun when they are not now nor ever previously on fire. And the floor is gorgeous.

  33. Hi Steph. I love what you are doing with the place.
    My brother, the contractor of the family, once told me that when renovating to always do the floors LAST of all because when you are painting etc stuff may drip. Waiting until the end saves you the clean up or loss of your new floors. I hope you are a better painter than I. My husband threatens divorce when I start ruminating on a better color for walls or cabinets or trim. There apparently isn’t enough drop cloths or masking tape in the ‘verse to combat my inherent ability for getting paint anywhere its not supposed to be. ;op

  34. “The noise was like a bee the size of an elephant was in therapy for anger management in my bedroom.
    Best. Image. Ever.
    Oh the dust. Sorry to say you’ll be finding that dust a year from now. Not that I know this from personal experience or anything.

  35. Hold it Stephanie!
    It is best to wash the dust off the ceiling before painting it. Much, much better!
    From the mouth of DH, a retired housebuilder, “Paint has to go on a clean service. Otherwise it will possibly peel off.”
    I was going to say that the paint wouldn’t stick, but that’s just a layperson’s way of putting it. (I can’t imagine non-sticking paint, but I can envision it peeling.)

  36. HAHA Steph, that’s awesome. I mean, AFTER the fires. And the dust. And the weird electricity-nonchalant floor guys. Your floor does look beautiful, though. And SMART GIRL for putting the Bohus into a ziplock!! I hope the rest of your yarn survived as well.

  37. Oh my…tell me you aren’t putting urathane on the floor with a paint brush? Please? Either way the floor is going to look wonderful when it’s done.

  38. HAHA Steph, that’s awesome. I mean, AFTER the fires. And the dust. And the weird electricity-nonchalant floor guys. Your floor does look beautiful, though. And SMART GIRL for putting the Bohus into a ziplock!! I hope the rest of your yarn survived as well.

  39. Okay. Not that I don’t believe that authors know more words than I do, but I looked it up. And now I can use “brobdingnagian” with aplomb.
    Oh yeah – the floor looks great!! I’m sure that this will be like childbirth – the actual memory of the pain will fade (over a lot of time) and you will have something lovely to show for your pains.

  40. How many things can be totally worth a fire? Very few, I’m sure. I’m glad you’re so pleased with your floor πŸ™‚

  41. Just think…now you can pretend all of your regular dust is from the remodeling and that normally your are a meticulous cleaner who could pass a white-glove inspection. Ah…the beauty of revisionist history!

  42. A sawdust lawn fire. Priceless.
    A couple of apartments ago, the landlord had the wood floors refinished just before I moved in. The dust was so pervasive that when I moved out 2 years later, I was still finding dust in odd places I hadn’t gotten to.

  43. Stephanie. Think about it. Not only are those pictures good blog material but they are “evidence” of a bad disposal method. Do you think that you are the only customer that has had these boneheads leave hot sawdust lying around? Do you think you’re be the last? If anyone calls to ask for a reference you might just want to send pictures of both the lovely floor and the outdoor heater that was created.
    My new Jo Sharp pattern book arrived today and it’s hard to type and hug the book at the same time. So, bye.
    Susan

  44. Have you ever wondered how you manage to attract the spectacular disasters into your life? I’m wondering how you do it. The crazy thing is, you always seem to land on your feet and better off than before.
    Witch. πŸ™‚

  45. Sorry, I meant to say “Paint has to go on a clean SURFACE.” Not “service”.
    Looks like this correction to my comment has gotten trampled in the rush.
    Happy knitting.

  46. The floor will be bee-you-tee-ful! But your floor guys scared me to death, from a distance! Do you need to borrow my hubby? He is a pretty handy guy – remodeled kitchens, bathrooms, painting, fence-building, and he tries very hard not to set things on fire. Just give me a shout. I can have him on a plane in a couple hours………………

  47. In reference to Suzanne and just leaving the sawdust as garden compost: Please don’t. Although I doubt wood floors would have been chemically treated 120 years ago, there’s no telling what kind of nasty stuff has been layered on top since then. (I’m envisioning lead paint leaching into water supplies.)
    You make me very grateful that my floors were redone before I moved it. Yours are gorgeous.

  48. The smartest thing we ever did was refinish the floors before we moved in.
    A lot of the trades are very casual about electricity, my hubby is an electrician & he wouldn’t do that, they shouldn’t have done that but good for you knowing to use a broom to knock him away from the panel if he did get electricuted, if you’re in rubber soled shoes a good kick works as well

  49. That you can be at the level of irritation that a house renovation can evoke and still be able to write about it. It’s a thing of wonderment! Beautiful floor, by the way.

  50. Wow.
    Gorgeous floor! Joe will be . .. floored!
    What an amazing treat to give him. Perhaps the girls would run a dustbuster over the larger surfaces in the rest of the house?
    (me, I’m blocking out the whole thought of opening that electric box w/o shutting it off).

  51. Oh. You didn’t know about the dust. Erg. And yeah, it’s worse when you sand the urethane.

  52. Holy cow. I thought out home renovations were out of control. We refinished all the floors in our house ourselves. Rented the equipment and everything. I even stained the floors before the urethane application. It looks great but was absolute hell in progress. At least we didn’t have to hotwire the sander into our electrical box. Good Lord.
    The floor does look beautiful, though, and it makes an awfully good story. Just keep focusing on that.

  53. Floor looks so good! And definitely worth it in spite of all the aggravation. We had our floors refinished when we bought our home, but it was empty, so easier to clean. It is hard to say, and harder to do, but I recommend that you get your kids or other loved ones to wipe down every horizontal surface with damp paper towels (and the vertical ones if possible). You don’t want to live with the grit (and maybe lead) and you don’t want to rinse a bushel of grit into your drains, either. Do the bedroom first, but get them to do the rest of the house while you finish working on the bedroom. The stuff that can’t be wiped down, shake it outside. It is such a lovely surprise for your husband, and it’s good for the marriage to have the bedroom be a special, beautiful place.

  54. Sawdust can burn for hours–slowly and surely! The floor does look quite stunning now that it is all paint free.
    Just wondering–why didn’t you wax the floor? The wax does require upkeep but it will extend the life of your wood while the urathane will dry it up and depending on the type of wood, it can yellow it after a few years. Also waxing the floor is quite fun–they have some nice little machines that you just hold on to and it does all the job while you sip a bear with one hand and guide the machine with the other :D.

  55. Reminds me of the time my son set his bedroom carpet on fire playing with a cigarette lighter he had found on his way home from school. He tossed his damp shower towel on it to put it out and left for school . . .
    Your floor looks beautiful, though.

  56. You slay me! The One Good Thing about our wreck of a house is that the floors had been done before we moved in.
    But please – can someone take pictures of you painting the ceiling (without drips?!)while the urathane on the floors is drying? I’m trying to get my mind about how you’re going to manage that. Does it involve circular needles or the hammock contraption destined for the birthball..?
    I’m sending you mental chocolate to last out the days until Joe returns.

  57. You missed the obvious part. A sawdust fire, on the lawn, IN THE SNOW! That one tops everything.
    Yeah, sometimes the repair people are not — I don’t want to say bright, because they usually are, having come up with all these ingenious fixes for things. It’s more that they’ve become obvlivous to danger, having lived charmed, unharmed lives for so long. The floor is already beautiful. Hey, just bribe the girls to dust. Or offer to post pics of knitters in the blog, if they show up with dustrags and beer in hand . . .

  58. Your floor looks truly beautiful, and will no doubt be worth the hassle.
    A word of caution, though: be prepared to find dust in odd places for months. I speak from the experience of having a plasterer in my house for FOURTEEN WEEKS. He only worked half days, so it took fourteen friggin weeks to plaster, sand, etc. This all took place last april and i still find tiny bits of plaster dust in unexpected places. Crazy stuff.

  59. Sorry about having to put up with the incompetent boobs who light sawdust on fire! But really, it is excellent blog fodder.
    And the floor looks so wonderful, I’m sure it’ll be worth the hassle once it’s all done and everything is back in its place.

  60. I know this is like shutting the barn door after the horse is loose, but try duct taping a sheet of plastic to the door of the room before sanding the next coat of urethane…
    Hysterically funny, today. And I’m supposed to be working but I couldn’t stop laughing.

  61. One day you’ll have to compare and contrast all of your home improvement fiascos. The front porch, your new office, your sawdust fire inducing floor project…. I’m sure we’re all dying to know just which was the worst, which was the most worth the hassle, and how many times you’ve considered packing the bags and leaving without looking back.
    I do love how you can always find something positive from each crisis. Who else could look at a fire in their front garden and smile about its blogability?!?

  62. My roommate thinks I’m insane, I was laughing so hard at the guy sticking the screwdriver into the power box — my brothers do that with computers, throwing screwdrivers into computers with the power still on, totally making it possible to kill an entire harddrive and motherboard with one little bzzzt. I can mod my comp-box, but I turn the damn power off first.
    Congrats on remembering to bag the Bohus. I’d’ve forgotten.

  63. Give the urathane more time to dry than you think it needs.
    Felt pads that stick under furniture legs, or something similar from the home improvement store, will keep the floors from scratching up over time. If the bed has wheels, you can get little soft “dishes” for the wheels to rest in.
    It is worth it to pay $ or use bribery to get the kids to help.

  64. I feeeel your pile of lawn dust fire pain. Here in San Antonio, TX we have had the pleasure of a ginormous pile of mulch that has been burning since Christmas Day. Unfortunately mere water hasn’t been able to extinguish our super fire….they are pulling the entire 8 story thing apart, putting into a pit, dowsing it with water and trying to figure out how to extinguish the underground fire that finally started. Did I mention the water people shut the water off at one point because of fears of ground water contamination….it’s just nuts here in Texas. Weird fire piles are always blog worthy.

  65. This is the stuff you just can’t make up. You couldn’t PAY someone to make this up. I’m okay with you being the person that has a life full of free blog fodder of this nature.
    And the floor – worth every bit. It’s really GREAT. You can spend the rest of your life dusting the rest of the house at your leisure. πŸ™‚

  66. Dude, that is so hilarious! SB Rachel is the best with that beer delivery system, she’s a keeper.
    Those floors look nice though, so keep on going!

  67. Hi–fabulous funny blog about the joys of spontaneous combustion. Those guys are a danger!!
    I thought you might be able to use the sawdust on the icy streets to prevent falling etc. Better than salt–ecologically, and better for yours and neighbour’s lawns. I think Toronto still has a few icy storms in it’s winter.
    Now for the warnings–please take some time to vacuum up the dust. It will continue to settle on your urethane as it’s curing, and you will have 6x more work sanding it, refilling the atmosphere with microscopic dust particles, and then sanding it again. You will thank me–believe me when I say, vacuum.
    Also the warnings re: furnace filter need to be heeded.
    Please do not paint the ceiling now. It is a very bad time. It might have been better to paint it while you were waiting for the floor guys, (see how good I am at timely advice?) because they would have sanded up the spatter.
    Please do not tell me that you are a fabulous ceiling painter and never spatter. Hah!! So is my husband. And he is blessed with a mild vision impairment that doesn’t see the microscopic bits of paint on the floor. I, being a knitter and needleworker, see every speck, however I only find it after it has dried and needs to be chiselled off the floor/antique sewing machine/organ/cedar chest/china cabinet. At least you moved all the furniture out and it won’t get speckled with a fine spray of paint. But your beautiful beautiful floor will. I hear your argument that you will wait until the 4 coats of urethane have dried and cured and then cover the floor totally in plastic. Hmmmm. Those drying times they print on the side of the can are “prime conditions” drying times. It may sound like I’m a pessimist, but I’d rather warn you than have you deal with a sticky, sticky mess. If there’s ANY humidity in the air that will change (lengthen) the drying/curing time. And I know Toronto is usually humid. So rather let Joe see an “almost” makeover than rush to have it look great and get some unfortunate messes that take a real long time to fix. (Ask me how I know?)

  68. If you didn’t live in Canada, I’d send you Cowboy, the guy who redid the floors in my house, including the urethane. No fires, not much dust, beautiful floors at the end of it, and relatively inexpensive. Plus they took away the sawdust. Alternatively, I could send you my husband. He might do it for the beer.

  69. Remember the feminist quote from the 70s…”Dust is a protective covering for furniture!” However, protect the stash, as I’m pretty sure it does NO good for yarn…
    πŸ™‚
    VERY glad you are safe. Equally glad I do not have a derelict house to renovate. But wow that floor looks good!
    (((hugs)))

  70. Even with all the drama, it still sounds better than finishing the floor yourself. I spent a summer doing the floors in my dad’s Victorian (Redwood floors that had paint drips all over and had been covered with ugly 70s carpet. It was criminal.) We sanded with hand sanders and I don’t think my back has ever been the same.
    For getting the dust off everything, most hardware stores carry something called tack cloth, which is just slightly sticky, so it really grabs the sawdust. And just keep thinking about how nice it will look when it’s done.

  71. You go to such lengths to create these situations wherein you get to take the perfect picture for the blog. You do to much for us. Thanks for the giggles.

  72. So sorry about the dust. Now I’m grateful I never had a sawdust fire when I was refinishing my son’s floors.
    I didn’t find the dust to be *more* when I was polyurethaning (which I did with a brush–what else could one use?). I did put it on with a band of masking tape around my other hand, to pick up the odd stray dog hairs that invariably came up and were not picked up by the vacuuming I did between each coat. So close! Enjoy! (and yes, leave the windows open at least during the day–helps it dry! Seal the door if you need to!)

  73. Wow, those floors are gorgeous! I have floor envy (but not dust envy). Friends of mine are re-doing their kitchen, and found newspaper in the wall from 1948.

  74. Dude – I would so NOT ever reccommend those guys for any renovation work, except maybe to my worst enemy. I’m glad that you’re OK and that you didn’t have to call emergency services at any point πŸ™‚

  75. Um, that sawdust? Contains old paint, right? Probably lead-based paint? 1) I’m glad it’s out of your house. 2) Treat the remaining dust as something you really do NOT want to breathe — wear masks while dusting, okay? 3) Triple-bag the remanants of the cinders on your lawn. Nasty, nasty stuff.
    If you don’t have one, you might want to borrow a friend’s HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner for the final cleanse of the house — and vac the walls and ceilings too. Then toss and replace the HEPA filter.
    You do not want lead-based paint dust in your lungs, let alone the girls’ lungs. It stays there and gathers into a lump and wreaks havoc evermore. Sorry about the gloom and doom, but ack!!! Concerned.

  76. That sawdust is insidious! It gets everywhere and you’ll be finding it for years to come, sorry πŸ™ But I must admit the fire was hilarious and great blog material. At least to those of us reading and not directly experiencing it. Have another beer.

  77. We’ve been building a house around ourselves for months now and it may or may not comfort you to know that after a while, you get used to the dust. You just kind of stop seeing it.
    Is there dust on the cat? Because that’s the only dust I notice anymore. When it’s time for me to dust off the dog and cat I know it’s time to get out the shop vac.

  78. Wow, sounds like Liam and Donel from Ballykissangel do your handyman chores. You are all lucky to be alive! And kudos to the alert neighbors who kept kindly informing you that things were on fire.
    The floors are beautiful, sorry about the dust, dust, dust.

  79. Perhaps you could train the fleece-eating squirrel to drag the bags full of sawdust away? Meanwhile, hysterically funny blog entry and gorgeous floors!

  80. I completely understand, I live in a crappy 114 year old house. We’ve done the downstairs orginal pine floors – about 8 years ago – they need doing again.
    The bedroom….haven’t dared to pull up the ugly carpet yet !
    It’s all HGTV’s fault, all this desire to uncrappyfy our spaces.

  81. I love the floor. Love it, it is stunning. And the sawdust fire? Hilarious… but only because it wasn’t happening to me.
    I have found that when people are doing things in my house (moving a piano, fixing the furnace, etc) I have to leave the vicinity and busy myself with something out of their way… otherwise we’ll all be crazy at the end of the day. Although I don’t know if I could ignore flaming items being rushed out of the house.

  82. don’t paint yet! that dust will linger in the air for days…or weeks. it will settle in your drying paint. when refinishing floors, time is critical. each coat of poly needs to dry *fully* before the next coat. then everything needs to dry really well before putting furniture back. when we had our floors refinished, it was a week before we could move everything back. it was a couple months before the dust finally stopped.

  83. you should have done what I did (although not intentionally). I had purchased a printer which didn’t work so, I picked it up intending to return it to the place I bought it from. In doing so some of the ink leaked out onto the wood floor of the living room, which was in crappy shape to begin with. Luckily we were covered by insurance and we ended up having all of our wood floors (living room, dining room and hallway) resanded and finished by a pro, all while we were sitting in a cozy hotel room for the week the work was being done. Once all was done the insurance firm hired a cleaning firm to dust the entire house. πŸ™‚

  84. This story is hilarious. I totally love old houses – they are full of adventures & charm.
    If you have time, you should check out the audio book “Cast On, Bets Off” over at — http://sitnknit.com/Home_Page.php — It’s written by the husband of my LYS owner & you’re referenced as a famous & hilarious knitter. It’s a murder mystery & I’m about half way done & love it so far.

  85. Beautiful floors, but to repeat Sylvia, watch out for the lead! We had a staircase redone in our old house and the guys used a chemical stripper (Peal-Away–very safe and no smell) before sanding. Take care!

  86. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that these guys were the low bidders.
    Makes me glad we sanded our own floors. (We plasticed the doorways and did it before we’d fully unpacked, so the dust wasn’t bad)
    I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am that it went down like that, though I’m glad they failed to burn your house down. Sounds like they tried really hard.

  87. I feel your pain when it comes to dust (and stupid workers). We gutted our kitchen last year. I was not prepared for the dust that I am still finding all these months later (and our house isn’t even all that old)! Your floor will be gorgeous (and a ceiling tip – if you can, find the paint that starts out lightly tinted and dries white. It’s much easier to tell where you’ve missed, trust me on this). Good luck!

  88. Wow! Don’t you just love that “Oh wow!” moment when you see the beauty of something that was unexpected? The floor is really beautiful, even without the 4 coats of poly. The floor refinisher /sawdust-on-fire story is great — you just can’t make up this stuff in a reasonable day. Good luck with the rest of this project and may the force truly be with you so it’s all finished by the time Joe gets home.

  89. I feel your pain. We were hoping to do some reno at our place this summer, however the sudden manifestation of a foundation problem due to the drought is going to suck up all available funds and then some. Bleh. Sometimes I feel like going back to renting.

  90. OMG! You certainly do have strange adventures! I do hope your yarn/fiber stash was protected from the dust? If you ever get writer’s block re knitting humour, you might consider a side trip to “adventures in renovations.” May the Force be with you!

  91. The floor looks a zillion times better already! As for the dust… ummm you’re not planning on doing any drywalling are you?

  92. I SO feel your pain. For MONTHS now (I hate doing the math for stuff like this; the project was supposed to be done mid-JANUARY), we have been converting the carport into long-anticipated studio space. My ENTIRE house is covered in sheetrock dust, smells like paint and…yeah, I just can’t take it anymore.

  93. Ok. That is just freaking weak. Those guys are terrible and unproffesional. Jerks.
    I have had a few careers that involved serious dust (I was a finish carpenter once, and an antique furniture restorer another time), and here’s a tip which is possibly redunadant (I’m sorry, I cannot read 110 comments.) and not terribly fun, but it helps:
    – Sprinkle water on your floor.*
    – Put your vacuum on reverse and blow the bejesus out of your room. The dust should collect in the water.
    – Sweep up the piles of wet sawdust.
    – Repeat as necessary.
    Good god. What jerks.
    But, hey! Nice floor!
    * uh, clearly the urethane should be COMPLETELY dry before you attemmpt this…

  94. Wow, who knew that underneath all that paint you had such a lovely floor! Chiming in with other concerned commenters, you should really get the sawdust out of the house– even with possiblities of nasty chemicals aside, it is respiratory irritant and deeply unpleasant to have rattling around in your lungs.
    On the other hand, I wouldn’t be too panicked about the sawdust smoldering on your lawn. Sawdust burns low and slow, and while it is a pain to put out, it isn’t likely to spread, especially with snow on the ground. Domestic partner and I use it all the time to fire our pottery– I am half inclined to come up there and take it off your hands. Crossing the Canadian/US border with a trunkful of smoking sawdust, imagine that.

  95. The floor is so gorgeous! So worth the dust and fire. Easy for me to say, since I don’t have to dust your house.

  96. I KNEW the floor would be gorgeous!!!!
    Sorry about the rest of it. Really sorry…..

  97. Perfect blog material. You had to. No choice on that one.
    Can you believe that knowing how much dust that creates, and knowing that it needed to be done in the house we were moving into, my husband opted NOT to do all the floors in the house before we moved in? No no, just the stair treads. Oy.
    It’s going to look fantastic though! And I agree. Bribe the girls to help with offers of time at the spinning wheel… or something like that. Can’t wait to see how it looks!

  98. Oh, my. That was a huge job you took on. The floor looks great, but I feel so bad for you with all of the dust!!! And you have to sand the urethane before you coat again? I love that your blog teaches as well as entertains…

  99. Oh wow…that is just unbelievable. Some people really shouldn’t be allowed to breed, and I’m thinkin’ your floor guys fit that category very well. The floor looks great, though. As for the Ikea bookcase – knit it a cozy!

  100. ohmigosh – a picture of Rachel H!!! *pauses to boggle*
    Heh, be glad that your house isn’t insulated with sawdust – which they used to do, back in the day…

  101. Oh wow…that is just unbelievable. Some people really shouldn’t be allowed to breed, and I’m thinkin’ your floor guys fit that category very well. The floor looks great, though. As for the Ikea bookcase – knit it a cozy!

  102. Coming from a place where fire is a season, even I had no idea that sawdust can burn in the snow. It’s a good thing Joe wasn’t there, otherwise you’d be putting out a sawdust fire AND performing CPR. And you would have had to put your beer down.
    However, those floors look so gorgeous even without the urethane coat.

  103. Oh, my. *wipes eyes*
    Reminds me of the time that my DA (that’s Domestic Associate) shoveled the ashes out of the fireplace into a five gallon bucket and put them in the garage. I smelled smoke in the middle of the night, but didn’t find anything, because who would look in the garage? We lost the contents of the garage, because the ash wasn’t out and started a merry little chain reaction. Everything that was plastic turned to a horrible sticky black ash.
    Plastic+smoldering=no good.

  104. The floor is gorgeous. I bet you appreciate it so much more, now that you know that those doofuses (doofi?) could’ve burned the whole place down.

  105. Just so you know, the Dyson Vacuum really is a fantastic piece of machinery. If a friend has one, do borrow it for the de-dusting.
    The floor is mighty pretty. And the lawn of sawdust on fire is hilarious. Do you think it would have melted through the snow? (BTW, that’s a LOT of snow still there. Wait. right. Canada. It doesn’t melt until some absurd time)

  106. Just be glad they put the smoldering sawdust on the lawn and not, say, on a wooden deck. A friend of mine saw his apartment go up in flames when his idiot neighbor put smoldering ashes on a wooden deck, and then went to sleep. Who raised these people?!

  107. I’m just going to give you a couple bits of info since I used to work with a floor refinisher/installer…
    1. that was hilarious reading…I could TOTALLY picture you standing there beside him issuing concerns while he ignores you and goes about his job. Men.
    2. The smell? Ya, it’s years and years of anything that has been on that floor…layers of wax,dirt, spilled drinks, urine, other bodily fluids…you get the picture. You do NOT want to try to re-use the sawdust.
    3. When the guy I worked with applied the urethane? He would wear a heavy duty gas mask…the kind you see bio-hazard guys wearing on tv with the two round filters on the front…be very careful to ventilate the room while working with it. I’m sorry your working in the bitter cold!
    4. FOUR coats?! wow…I only remember doing two (2) even on a refinish job. We also installed hardwood in new houses.
    5. It will be SO beautiful when it’s done! I hope your enlisting some help…it’s a big job and I admire you for tackling it πŸ™‚

  108. Hey the floors look great! Having just done the floors for our “still building after 30 years” owner built home, I have a tip on spreading the urethane. Ditch the paint brush, get a paint pad, put it on a broom handle or mop handle. Get a friend, get a filter mask – the good kind (this is very important!)
    Have the friend pour a bit of the urethane on the floor and then just mop it on the floor carefully, making sure you don’t miss spots. Keep moving and keep pouring until you’re done. This is so much easier on your knees!
    If you don’t wear an air filter mask, you will get the worst headache you have ever had from breathing those fumes, and god only knows what it is doing to your lungs.
    It is worth it in the end, although I must admit it is now 6 months since the sanding and I am still finding dust on stuff.
    Good Luck!

  109. Hey the floors look great! Having just done the floors for our “still building after 30 years” owner built home, I have a tip on spreading the urethane. Ditch the paint brush, get a paint pad, put it on a broom handle or mop handle. Get a friend, get a filter mask – the good kind (this is very important!)
    Have the friend pour a bit of the urethane on the floor and then just mop it on the floor carefully, making sure you don’t miss spots. Keep moving and keep pouring until you’re done. This is so much easier on your knees!
    If you don’t wear an air filter mask, you will get the worst headache you have ever had from breathing those fumes, and god only knows what it is doing to your lungs.
    It is worth it in the end, although I must admit it is now 6 months since the sanding and I am still finding dust on stuff.
    Good Luck!

  110. I swear you’re a magnet for this kind of stuff. Tell me the floor guys aren’t related to the pink panties lady… But the floors really do look great!

  111. Oh, been there, done that. but it is so worth it! what a relief when it is done! and you really will laugh about it and be so proud of yourself, pleased with the accomplishment, glad you did it. and it’s only a week out of your whole life, the rest of which you will be able to enjoy the room. plus the worst is over, it’s all up hill from here – painting and dusting are easy! i can’t wait to see the finished results. the floor is just beautiful. good job!

  112. I haven’t laughed that hard in several weeks. Thanks for making my birthday bright and sunny.
    I would like to make one suggestion, I believe you should do your painting before the floor is completely finished. The last thing you want to deal with is a newly finished floor that is splattered with paint. Would have said so yesterday, but the dust machine was probably already at work.
    It does look marvelous. I hope you have the windows open for all the urethane fumes.

  113. The floor is beautiful! I love it. It looks so smooth and perfect (and should be with all the sawdust they took off it…morons). Seriously. Lovely.
    I hear you on the dust. We live in a new development (recently moved in from a VERY old house) and the dust is unimagianable (to quote a certain Sicillian…)! I can’t wait until we have grass to hold our backyard in place.
    AND it’s Calgary, so you KNOW that a Chinook rolled into town and melted our (considerable amount of) snow and turned our backyard, front yard, driveway and street into a gigantic mud puddle. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go bathe a Newfoundland dog. Fun.
    K

  114. Ah, yes. Floor refinishing. When we did our floors, we lived in a borrowed/rented RV for a weekk parked in front of the house. We used the bathroom by climbing in the bathroom window on a ladder…. Nothing as interesting as smoldering sawdust on the front yard, though! Very glad your Bohus escaped the dust.

  115. I don’t usually leave comments – but I just have to say that you make me laugh. It is one of my days highlights to sit down for 5 minutes by myself and read your blog. Thank you πŸ™‚ Good luck with the renovation project – it will be wonderful when it is done and thank you again for the wonderful words πŸ™‚

  116. I don’t usually leave comments – but I just have to say that you make me laugh. It is one of my days highlights to sit down for 5 minutes by myself and read your blog. Thank you πŸ™‚ Good luck with the renovation project – it will be wonderful when it is done and thank you again for the wonderful words πŸ™‚

  117. That is a *wonderful* story. And your floor is now beautiful. (Oh, how I wish my old landlords had done something like that rather than add a fourth and a fifth coat of paint to the floor.)

  118. Be sure to cover the newly sanded floor very VERY well when you paint the ceiling and walls and woodwork. I’d hate for there to be speckle type splatters all over those lovely wood floors.
    What an adventure you’ve been having! Will Joe be pleased or what!

  119. Hahaha…. made me laugh harder than I have in months. Sorry to laugh at your misfortune, but it was so well written that I could practically see it happening in my head. Who were those guys?

  120. well, burnt wood ashes are a good fertilizer you know (glossing over the effectiveness of burnt paint, varnish and other stuff as fertilizer)
    the floor looks great.
    the dust? well you’ll be dusting for a while.
    a tack cloth is good (buy ready made ones at a hardware store.. yes, you can make them for 1/10 the price, but its this what you really want to do?)
    vacuuming and silicon dust cloths are good too.
    big box home improvement centers sell silicone cloths with janitorial supplies, and they are bigger and cheaper than buying ‘duster cloths’ in supermarket. –besides for the dust, you need inDUSTrial sized cloths!

  121. Around here they say, “It wouldn’t be Michigan without a snowstorm in April.”
    I’m thinking — “It wouldn’t be a project of Stephanie’s without a fire burning in the snow.”

  122. I wish we had hired a cleaning company to clean after we did our floors. We did ours in the summer, and had plastic hung and fans in the windows and doors to suck the dust and fumes of the poly out of the house. BUT, the kids slept in the camper for a few nights, and the neighbors TWO HOUSES DOWN THE STREET mentioned the smell and the dust clouds. As for the burning lawn, we had a plot 25×25 or so that was a summer vegetable garden. In the fall, we covered it with fallen leaves from our yard. One day, we emptied a barrel of ashes on top. We thought they were cool enough to dump. We went shopping for a few hours, and on the way home, noticed smoke in the vacinity of our home. Coming up the rise, we knew it WAS our home. Pulling into the drive, we saw the whole garden in low flame and smoke. Thank God our house was ok, and the truck was unharmed. Life is full of adventures, eh?

  123. Well, it may have been an eventful way of doing it, but that floor looks beautiful. Just think, when all of this is finally done (and dusted. Although probably the least said about that the better), you’ll have a nice tranquil place to sit and knit. Or at least, you will when you have the place to yourself. All the best!

  124. Dang! It sounds like you had a wild day! The floor looks great! It makes me want to tear up my carpet to see what is under it. Then I remember, I hate cold floors, and wood is cold in the winter!

  125. Well, it may have been an eventful way of doing it, but that floor looks beautiful. Just think, when all of this is finally done (and dusted. Although probably the least said about that the better), you’ll have a nice tranquil place to sit and knit. Or at least, you will when you have the place to yourself. All the best!

  126. I can’t wait to hear what’s happening next! Your floor looks beautiful already. I perfectly understand your troubles… next July they will be remodelling my bathroom and will strip out pipes and floor (tiles) and wallcovering (more tiles).. It will be dust and hell till it is over. I just hope it will come out as beautiful as your room seems to be going to. Please please find the time to keep us informed about the progress of the works… I am so excited and curious…

  127. I had some workers who were melting and scraping paint from the windows set my house on fire (it was a squirrel’s nest in the attic they lit). Thankfully no real damage done. I managed to get the baby up from his nap and outside in plenty of time. (I was so mad about the wasted nap!)
    Be glad the fire is outside.
    I have learned to put up vinyl sheets over all doorways before they start sanding floors. You will be finding dust in places you never expected. For years. . .

  128. Oh, dear–what an adventure! The image of you holding the broomstick while the guy hotwired the sander reminded me of when my husband & I were building our first house. He did all the electrical work (the Time/Life “Basic Wiring” book was his bible), and every time he was at the circuit box, I was right behind him, with a broom, or a 2×4, just in case I needed to whack him off the box.
    Good luck with the dust, it IS insidious. But this type of work is good, because once it’s done, IT’S DONE, unlike laundry… You’ll be able to sit back and say, Hey, I did that!

  129. Dude…..blog fodder deluxe….
    The floor is going to be fabulous.
    (you missed that comment yesterday that advised sealing off the room, didn’t you)
    Hi Rachel, good to see your lovely self, it’s been a while,eh?
    Stephanie, You are sooo amazing.

  130. Oh, dear–what an adventure! The image of you holding the broomstick while the guy hotwired the sander reminded me of when my husband & I were building our first house. He did all the electrical work (the Time/Life “Basic Wiring” book was his bible), and every time he was at the circuit box, I was right behind him, with a broom, or a 2×4, just in case I needed to whack him off the box.
    Good luck with the dust, it IS insidious. But this type of work is good, because once it’s done, IT’S DONE, unlike laundry… You’ll be able to sit back and say, Hey, I did that!

  131. It occurs to me that the longer our friendship gets, the goofier I look on this blog. This is a worrying trend.

  132. Good gracious! That is crazy. They really should worry about electrocution and fire – but hey, without them where would this blog post be?
    πŸ˜€

  133. Holy crud. I live in fear of doing my floors for those very reasons. (And because I’d have to move everything off the floor…)

  134. Floor looks beautiful. You’re doing a great job with all this on your own and quickly. I have also experienced the sanding of floors. You’ll find dust for years. Shame the sawdust was full of paint or you could compost it.

  135. Yipes! What did those guys do to leave the sawdust on simmer like that?
    It makes for a more exciting story than my burst-pipe drama, though. Although the collapsed horsehair plaster ceiling did make an impressive mess.

  136. I knew I hated DIY.
    I don’t care how trendy wooden floors are, I could not take what you have just gone through.
    I really, really hope the rest of your project goes smoothly; it does look as though you’ll end up with a great result, but it’s carpet for me!

  137. Hey, idiots they may be but look at the floor!
    It is incredible. What a difference the sanding made. Wow.
    Joe is going to be thrilled – and the story will make it even more memorable.

  138. The best part of the story is Rachel….standing there LETTING you take a picture of her, even though she KNOWS about the blog. I love that crazy knitters always have friends who are just that little bit more crazier than they are.

  139. Looks like you’ve got a good start on the overhaul…fire and dust and all. Best of luck on the rest of it- I assume the majority yarn stash is safely dust-free? Just guessing from what I’ve read of the whole Moth Incident.
    Godspeed brave knitter. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  140. Your floors are beautiful even before you get to the urethane. You just can’t get new flooring to have as much character and soul as the old stuff.

  141. The floor looks gorgeous. One note: the huge Oakland Hills Fire here, which destroyed 3,000 homes, flared up after the firemen put out a small fire, thought it was good and out, and 24 hours later a small ember flared up and headed for the hills. Watch those bags carefully for the next bit!

  142. Ooooh! I forsee dust and disaster in my house sometime soon – if my floors turn out half as well as yours, I’ll be smiling widely enough to cheerfully ignore the mess!

  143. Yep, yep, yep on all the warnings about the dust. Get all your family/friends/fellow knitters to have a dust-be-gone party at your house. Shopvacs, wet rags, etc….vacuum, wipe down walls and floors in other rooms, all surfaces. Oh Lord, just thinking about it makes me want to go lie down.

  144. I envision that IKEA bookcase turned on it’s side and serving as a yarn storage unit. ORGANIZED BY COLOR. oops, sorry, she just can’t help herself.

  145. That sawdust is like those birthday candles that don’t go out… without the laughing and general hilarity that follows. Floor looks great!

  146. That sawdust is like those birthday candles that don’t go out… without the laughing and general hilarity that follows. Floor looks great!

  147. Beer and knitting are the best after a stressful day. My BF makes his own beer so I never run out. It’s great; of course my bathroom is full of beer in several stages of beermaking. The floor is gorgeous. It will looks so good when you are done with it.

  148. Thank you! I laughed until I cried. You really do have a gift. But seriously, I would wait before I painted. You need fresh warm air, and that’s not in great supply in TO in March. Besides, I kind of like the SunnyD colored walls. The floor looks amazing, but Oh my, the burning sawdust…. LOL.
    Elizabeth

  149. DO NOT USE ANYTHING WET TO DUST !!!!
    ONLY A DRY CLOTH, A SHOP VAC WITH DUSTING BRUSH, AND SHAKING OUT WILL DO !!!!
    THE FLOORS ARE SMASHING.

  150. DO NOT USE ANYTHING WET TO DUST !!!!
    ONLY A DRY CLOTH, A SHOP VAC WITH DUSTING BRUSH, AND SHAKING OUT WILL DO !!!!
    THE FLOORS ARE SMASHING.

  151. I love it that you did the same thing to your floors that I did at my old house! We sanded our floors and sealed them with the poly urathane. I love the natural wood look to the floors. They look Beautiful!!! I wish mine had the wide planks like yours. But I’m not in that house anymore so it really doesn’t matter. Ah memories!!! It took me FOREVER to get ALL the dust out!! Good luck!
    Knit ON!!!!

  152. We had our whole downstairs sanded and urathaned. We moved out for 4 days. But, yeah, the dust! We’ll be doing the upstairs next… kinda dragging my heels on that one. πŸ™‚ Don’t want to have to dust the walls again.

  153. GOOD JOB!!!! Your floor is beautiful. I just love wood floors. This was such a good laugh!! It sounds like the stuff that happens to me and no one would believe it if I told it!!! Sometimes it just leaves me dumbfounded!! At least the floor guy will get electrocuted in someone else’s house. I read your blog EVERY day and really miss it when you don’t post. You have such a realistic attitude towards life and I appreciate reading your viewpoints.
    Ruth

  154. Oh Stephanie, having to explain to bemused coworkers why I am laughing so hard I’m crying is so totally worth it. I really really needed that laugh today, and the happy belly-cramps that go with it πŸ™‚
    And your floor is pretty damn stunning, now that it’s out from under all that crappy paint. I’d volunteer for a smoldering sawdust fire for that floor.

  155. So you’re telling me Tuesday wasn’t for spinning?
    I apologize, though. Where I said I would love to witness this from a safe distance, like Kalamazoo? I take it back. Not far enough. But it turns out the smell and noise don’t quite reach to South Bend, so I’m adoring it.
    (And your next book should be “The Annotated Yarn Harlot,” with marginal comments by Rachel H.)

  156. I think the blog post that will write itself is the one wherein you show us the effigies the McPhee clan created out of the snowdust that was heaped in the front garden.

  157. Darling Rams, what an EXCELLENT idea. (why yes, that is an evil grin slowly spreading across my face…)

  158. Oh, floors! I am STILL wiping dust off surfaces here and there and it’s been 2 years, 11 months since the floors were done. I’m not a stellar housekeeper but I’m also not so negligent that I could miss these spots for so long. The dust simply gets everywhere and comes back even after a surface has been cleaned.
    We have no yard; I wonder where the workmen would have put our fire had there been one?

  159. beautiful!! encouraged to get going on mine, they look as bad as the before!!

  160. beautiful!! encouraged to get going on mine, they look as bad as the before!!

  161. I can see the drama unfolding as I am reading it. THe color of the floor is beautiful. cecilia

  162. My thoughts are with you Stephanie as you take on this seemingly very large task. I hope there are no more uncontained, spontaneous fires in your future, small or otherwise.

  163. Having refinished the floors -that is, having had someone refinish the floors- in two different houses, now– we have a bit of trouble staying put– it is so worth the mess– and do not skimp on the urethane– you do not want to do this again!! And in case you are really using a paint brush to do it… my guy (who thankfully did a really nice job) used a lambs wool applicator. large and swift… just another use for the beloved sheep.

  164. I’m sure there are people out there who have experienced eventless renovations, but I’ve yet to meet any of ’em. The floor will be stunning when you’re done.
    (Newspaper in the walls? I had some panelling replaced and the contractor found about 50 lb. of dog food stashed in the wall. And one of the cute little mice who’d been industriously stashing same. I think I’d have been happier with newspaper.)

  165. ain’t home reno fuuuunnnnn???? those workmen sound like a nightmare! but the floor looks gorgeous. I ccan’t wait to read of Joe’s reaction.

  166. We had a teenage boy that, against all common sense, put some fresh ashes from the woodstove onto our manure pile near the barn. It apparently smoldered all night and then started traveling slowly through old dry grass. My daughter had to miss school to stay home and water it periodically all day. She still laughs that she got to be called in sick to water a manure pile!

  167. I was about to suggest calling your local fire department and asking them if they had any recomendations for extinguishing a sawdust fire, but then I realized that firemen probably don’t like to be asked hypothetical questions on such subjects.
    What I really want to do is scream and stomp around in frustration for you. I have to give you serious kudos for staying postitive and going on with the project even though your garden is a sawdust fire. You also deserve brownie points for using “brobdingnagian.”

  168. If my husband did his job like some people do theirs, there would be airplanes dropping out of the sky all over the place.
    Your flooring guys sound like they come from the mill where I used to work. Screwdrivers in the main electrical unit indeed! They are damn lucky they didn’t get electrocuted or burn your house down.

  169. I have a plan for the dusting issue. I had a book when I was little called “All of a Kind Family” where there were 5 daughters in the brood and Mama would get them to dust by hiding a button somewhere in the room – whoever found it got a prize. Should someone be deprived of their, say, lipgloss, and told to hunt for it while wiping all surfaces with a towel, your dusting issues may go away. I say this, of course, having no parenting experience at all and having been told by my own mother that when I washed my dishes I needed to wash the bottoms of the plates as well as the tops. Housecleaning and slave labor are not in my realm of expertise. I do know, and this may actually be helpful, that they sell some cheesecloth-like stuff that is STICKY and is great for erradicating layers of dust. It’s what refinishers use and it works wonderfully. This recommendation I can base on actual fact and experience. Can’t wait to see more pictures – it’s really gorgeous and he’ll be so impressed!

  170. Makes you wonder if they’d already been zapped once or twice and no longer had the wits to know that what they’d lost. Sheesh. Just a small fire. In sawdust. Doesn’t everybody just put a small fire in with more flamable stuff and bag it up?
    But, well…yeah, those floors are so worth the sawdust lawn fire.

  171. After all that, I think *I* need a beer.
    Rachel is also a great provider of fairies to small girls who are suspicious of her stories about them but tend to believe her anyway just to hear what she’ll make up next. My daughter will be so impressed when she finds out Rachel’s a Sawdust Lawn Firefighter, too. Whatta woman.
    Beware the urethane fumes, m’love. It’s freaking cold out, but you’re going to have to ventilate the crap out of your house.

  172. OK, you win. That could only happen to YOU. Sure, we set off the smoke detector (and discovered that there was a BULLHORN like alarm that came with the house) when we sanded our floors, but I don’t recall there being fire. I love the honey colour old wood gets when it’s refinished.
    Can’t wait til tomorrow!

  173. Could you tape & plastic off the room and open the window to the outside? Maybe put a fan in the window to exhaust? (All the painting & sanding will keep you warm…)

  174. Did anyone happen to mention that sawdust is a class C material? i.e. – it can explode when exposed to fire. Usually it has to be floating in the air when this happens but another shovel or two of snow couldn’t hurt.
    You really should get some of your money back.
    KD
    There are old electricians and there are dumb electricians but there are no old dumb electricians.

  175. The urethane will dry faster this time of year because the heated air is very dry but you do want to wait much longer than you might think to put anything heavy on the surface. It will need to cure for about two weeks or your furniture and any area rugs will stick.
    Heed the advice about probable lead content in the dust and wash all the dishes, counters, towels, clothes, etc. Throw out any exposed food and get new toothbrushes. Don’t forget your pets. They will be licking the dust off their fur.
    Do you Canadians have the Better Business Bureau? Those doofuses need to be reported. Soooooo glad your house is still standing!

  176. Its been mentioned but I’ll bring it up again.. always plastic off the area to be sanded so that it stays contained. The fact that the floor guys didn’t suggest it speaks volumes (therefor, the wiring issue and flaming sawdust garden are absolutely NO surprise)
    But with THAT said.. its looking gorgeous!

  177. Brobdingnagian? Take that, you language critic! My sanding guys have mostly faded from memory, but the guys who smoked and squashed their cigarette butts on the newly sanded maple floors will be with me forever. When I got to the second floor, I asked myself, “Why can’t I just sand them myself?” It turns out to be one mean mother of a job, and the second floor floors look like crap. And you still get the dust. That sticky cheesecloth stuff and a good stiff paintbrush for corners are worth every penny. And so is paying people to do the sanding, as long as they don’t, you know, burn down your house.

  178. I would so wire directly into your main box with bare wire. Sometimes these things just have to be done. But I would turn the power off while I was doing it.

  179. This is giving me flashbacks. My job in our floor finishing was “cleanup”, i.e. vacuum all the walls and floors after every coat was sanded and before every paint job. Thank goodness we had a Kirby with the sucking power of a jet engine.
    Keep repeating: “It will be beautiful when I’m done.”

  180. That Rachel is a trouper.
    I was all set to tell you what a great garden-soil additive sawdust makes, when I realized 1) I think “garden” is Canadian for “front yard” and may not involve any actual gardening 2) you probably don’t want to wait for it to be warm enough to garden anyway 3) especially if the stuff is on fire.
    However. Did I not tell you the room would be redeemed just by the gorgeosity of the floor? Now if I could figure out a way to get rid of all the dust…

  181. The floor is lovely. I am so very happy for you. Do not, do not, do not attempt to clean the dust until you are totally totally done. Then, in the best investment you will ever make, hire a cleaning service. One that will do the furnace ducts too . . . which is where the dust hides. Trust me. I speak from experience.

  182. Sounds like you found Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl! My guess is if you hadn’t been overcome by the smoke you could’ve shoveled snow into the bags to put out the fire.

  183. Be very careful Steph, the bedroom will look so good now, that the rest of the house will start to pale in its presence and that will only lead to less knitting time in general…those home improvements are like a virus…cedar

  184. Wish I lived closer – I am a dust warrior (not something I usually brag about, but I am a neat freak to a fault). I would be there in a heartbeat – you’d never know you had sanded the floor and 4 coats of urathane.
    The floor looks beautiful – worth all of the grief. Just glad someone had the good sense to bring beer.

  185. The floors already look beautiful, what a big change. What a big endeavor to take on…wow. I’m in the heavy-duty breathing filter camp; the fumes gave me quite the headache
    BTW, Petaluma book tour store called and advised although Steph’s talk is free, that in order to get seating (as they don’t expect to have enough) if one buys Steph’s new book from them, they will put a ticket for seating in the book. They have space for 250-300, depending on how many book shelves they will move. Their store re-do brought in shelving and those have to move out to make seating. So, keep an eye on when the book comes out, call the store and give them credit card and they’ll reserve a you book and a seat for Steph’s talk.

  186. I am happy to hear that you finally decided to break the saw dust up as you poured water on it. That is the only way to put out that type of fire. Saw dust is pretty dense. And the floor looks ten times better. But I hope you haven’t paid the guys yet. I would hold back a bit of the money since they should have cleaned up after themselves. But this is an American talking.

  187. My uncle-in-law sands floors. Must agree on the insane part… We sanded floors at our old place. What a mess! However it sounds like our sander’s bag was better than these guys’ and cos we have 240V not this weakling 110V stuff, we just plugged it in to the power point and let it rip.

  188. Oh, Stephanie, the floor is just beautiful. It’s going to look gorgeous when all is said and done. My parents’ house is over a hundred years old and had been “improved” and added on to in the 60’s or 70’s. They’ve been working on it gradually for about 20 years, replacing or refinishing just about every surface in the house. Where before it was dark and confining, now it’s open and sunny and beautiful. It’s one of my favorite places in the world.
    And please for to not burn down the House of Harlot. All the yarn…Think of the yarn!
    Glad everything turned out okay.

  189. that is a really awesome floor.
    i’d totally trade your floor for my fiberglass insulated walls. πŸ™‚ customs i think would be confused.
    there were real wood floors in my 147 year old house, but some idiot decided to replace them with red and yellow linoleum, and then someone else tossed carpet on top (not that i blame the carpeters…)

  190. I told my husband about your hilarious problem with the sawdust and he said, “Oh, it probably got wet.” Very matter of fact. Whhaaattt? And he goes on to explain that it probably had varnish in it and it will spontaneously combust if it’s in a big pile and it gets wet, especially in a black garbage bag. Then he goes on to tell me about ships full of coal that combust when they open the hatches and coal cars that burn on the bottom where moisture collects. Honestly, the things I’ve learned being married to a physicist. So, it sounds like the way to put out the fire is to spread the sawdust around, not pile it up, and not get it any wetter. Physics. Who knew?

  191. We had the floors of our last house (at Mt.Pleasant and Lawrence) sanded – at the time the floors were about 80 years old and I doubt anyone had sanded them before us. We had the foresight to tape industrial strength plastic sheets to the doorways separating the main floor from the kitchen and the stairs to the second floor. Didn’t help quite as much as we’d hoped – sawdust got into the VCR and it needed a lot of TLC to start functioning again. It’s talcum-powder sawdust, too – not the kind janitors use at schools to soak up vomit or the like. Don’t think I’d do it again. Your floor will look lovely, though.

  192. Your lawn was a sawdust fire ON A BLANKET OF SNOW!!! That’s almost surrealistic…add in fish and a lightbulb, and that could be a masters course in post-modernism…really!

  193. After moving into a house where all of the cutting for the trimwork was done INSIDE, I can tell you one thing: you’ll need to wash the walls and ceiling before you can paint them. There is now a fine layer of sawdust everywhere–and I wouldn’t recommend trying to paint over it. (It would be blogworthy–but in a horrid, nightmare beyond your worst nightmare kind of way.)
    My aunt used to pay me to wash her walls & ceilings once a year (during the summer, when I was home from University), and she’d have me drape a wet rag over the end of a damp mop and swab the ceilings and walls with that. It went suprisingly fast–and yours should too, after you’re done vacuuming the walls & ceiling.
    Best of luck to you . . . and if you don’t have a canister vaccuum with a long wand, I’d recommend calling a friend or three to bring theirs over.
    Hang in there. It’s going to look awesome!

  194. HolyCRAP, those guys were short a few brains – GAHHHHH!!! I DO hope, that when you have time and sanity restored, you go to the BBB website (Canada has a Better Business Bureau, right?) and report those MORONS!!! If I were near you, I’d come help ye dust – considering that I DON’T dust, I’m sure it would involve something of a learning curve, but hey – if I could, I would!!
    Oh, one other thing…You have to SAND Urethane?? Hmmmm….I didn’t know that! Your blog is SO ejukashunal, Stephanie – I know my family is eternally grateful for the pearls of wisdom I dispense amongst them, prefaced by “I read in Stephanie’s blog that…”
    πŸ™‚ Best of Luck!!!

  195. OMG, I’m horrified. We had our floors redone a couple years ago. I feel like I should have warned you, but it just didn’t occur to me that your guys wouldn’t SEAL off the rest of the house from the bedroom. I’m pretty sure that is standard operating procedure.
    Some workers (read men) are such slobs. We had a guy once who respackled a plaster livingroom without covering the floors, then let the spackle stuff dry on everything. Your guys sound like they come from the same gene pool.

  196. I so sympathize with you …. but let me tell you something, our “floor guys” put plastic sheeting over EVERYTHING before they started on the floor (most of our whole first floor was done all at one time). And still ….. there was sawdust every-freakin’-where. I can only imagine your house now. Eek.
    I agree you have to (MUST) clean before painting however, or you will live to regret it.
    But ….. look at that floor! It is so worth it. Your room is going to go from “crap” to “fab.” Someday you will look back on this and …. not laugh maybe, but be VERY glad that you got through it alive. πŸ™‚

  197. The floor looks great.
    It’s nice to see that I’m not the only person who buys a diamond in the rough because it is the only house I can afford. I went without hot water for months and froze to death all winter because there is no insulation in the walls but I paid cash for it. It’s mine all mine. After reading about your adventure I think I’ll skip the wood floors.

  198. Great story, really, what with the no-one actually being electrocuted or burned part . . . and the pictures of the floor? Goooooor-geous!

  199. Referencing an earlier comment up above that I am too lazy to go back and see who said it…
    Your local fire department would rather get a phone call saying that you HAVE a small pile of burning sawdust and aren’t sure what to do about it than, “I HAD a small pile of burning sawdust, but the breeze picked up and all of a sudden it got out of control and now my house is on fire.”
    Just sayin’ is all.
    Love the floor, glad to hear the Bohus is safe. Easier to wipe dust off the dishes than get it out of fine wool!

  200. Dude. Totally funny when it happens to someone else! I read your entry to my DS & DH, and when we came to the line “using language unbecoming a knitter” my DH laughed and said, “Yeah, right – there’s no difference between a knitter and a trucker!” He must be hanging around some other knitter, though — just sayin’

  201. Okay, that completely made my day! What a gift, to find the humor & photos in this saga in time to post for the rest of us! I’m sure you’re planning to heed all the great advice in the previous comments but am equally sure that something unexpected & hilarious awaits. (I’m totally impressed by the ziplock bag idea, by the way.)

  202. Hey Steph it all looks great! I am a little worried that you seem to be considering doing the ceiling at the same time as the floor. Actually I’m more than worried, I’m fretting. Doesn’t seem like you will be able to cover the floor adequately, if you have just coated it with urethane, to keep the spatters from the ceiling off. And if you don’t you will be looking at ceiling paint on your floor for the next 20 years. My rule of thumb in these matters is, start at the top and work your way down. First ceiling, then walls, then skirtings, then floor. That way you get to paint over all the spatters from the higher up work as you go. And you get to keep your floor totally covered up for the painting.
    But, hey, enough beer and it might all work out.

  203. But you were never for one minute bored, were you? One of my clever sisters used to say that after various disasters of all kinds, and it does cheer one up. Build some incentive for your teenage dusters-to-be–hide two $20 bills where they will find them only in the course of thorough dusting. One of my cousins helped her aunt clean an old house, including changing shelf paper (!) and they found $400 under the old paper. My cousin is the best duster now you ever saw. Good luck.

  204. But you were never for one minute bored, were you? One of my clever sisters used to say that after various disasters of all kinds, and it does cheer one up. Build some incentive for your teenage dusters-to-be–hide two $20 bills where they will find them only in the course of thorough dusting. One of my cousins helped her aunt clean an old house, including changing shelf paper (!) and they found $400 under the old paper. My cousin is the best duster now you ever saw. Good luck.

  205. But you were never for one minute bored, were you? One of my clever sisters used to say that after various disasters of all kinds, and it does cheer one up. Build some incentive for your teenage dusters-to-be–hide two $20 bills where they will find them only in the course of thorough dusting. One of my cousins helped her aunt clean an old house, including changing shelf paper (!) and they found $400 under the old paper. My cousin is the best duster now you ever saw. Good luck.

  206. *lol* This is sounding all very familiar… When I was 13 my mum was in hospital having her appendix out and my dad and I decided to rip up the lounge/dining carpet and sand all the boards back before she got home. The pure fun of being 13, pulling up tacks with pliers are 1:00am – best time ever! Luckily my dad is a professional floor sander (no fires at our place). Over the years he’s pulled up all the carpets, laid parquetry, cork tiles – amazing man.
    Oh, and I wouldn’t have used urethane (bit late, I know). Linseed oil is more far better smelling, better for the wood and lasts *forever*. If you only knew the effect urethane fumes has on floor sanders….

  207. This totally made my day- it’s 1:30 in the morning and I sit here all by myself- children fast asleep- laughing out loud!!! The floor will be great!
    Best wishes, Marit in Norway

  208. I’ve had such an awful day and then I read your blog and especially the comments and I’m feeling so much better! What a crack-up — and what a good friend Rachel H. is.
    On a serious note, though, pay heed to the warnings about the dust — after my remodel the dust stuck around for six months. I actually developed asthma and chronic bronchitis from it, and I dusted and dusted like a crazy person. My doctor wanted me to move out, but so far I would not go.
    I ordered my own Bohus kit today in your honor — soon I will be working on “Grey Mist”. If anyone is interested, it couldn’t be easier to buy the kit — just send Solveig a message and you will be on your way.

  209. They floors are be-yoo-ti-ful but I can’t believe that they didn’t tape off the room before they sanded!! OMG you’ll be finding sawdust in nooks and crevises for years!!

  210. Stephanie – be glad it was only the bags on your front lawn on fire – last March my sister-in-law and family was staying with my inlaws, while their house was being worked on 4 hours away – one of the projects was floor refinishing – they got a phone call that the house burned while they were here – the sawdust was left in bags on their back wooden deck and caught on fire …..Their new house should be completed next month! Thank goodness they weren’t home when it happened!
    I’ve been living through house remodeling for years, and it never fails that I get things cleaned up when the hubby decides to work on something else – we found pine needles in the floor upstairs, I assume it was used as insulation (horror!) and not dragged in by critters, but you never know. We nearly froze the first few winters until we started remodeling the bedrooms – we didn’t even have newspaper in the walls – probably 2″ or more of dead space between the interior lathe and plaster, and the exterior pine boards! Many years, and dollars later, we are now comfortably warm, and ready to remodel the remodel. Here we go again! πŸ™‚ Hang in there, you will be so happy when it’s done.

  211. If your books are anything like this post I must read them!! Most of the stress from work today is is long gone thanks to you!

  212. Lucky that they didn’t seal the doorway with plastic. You don’t want anything slowing down the idiot carrying the bag of burning sawdust outside.

  213. ooooooooooooooooh! can … not …. breathe …. from …. laughing!!!! i’ve done the whole home floor refinishing thing(ok, had it done. i didn’t actually DO anything myself) and i have to say, i think you must have hired some of those contractors that keep mike homes in business!!!!

  214. As someone who went through a full year of house renovation, I have to remind you, have you check your stash? Those dust gets into everything, no matter how well you think you’ve protected them.

  215. This is my first comment to your blog, though it’s so good I’m working my way through ALL the archives and frequently clip stuff out to send my hubby & other friends. You have a wonderfully wicked way of describing things!
    Your new floor looks lovely, even unfinished. This gives me hope, as my floors are much worse than yours was – this was once a log cabin, and then my f-i-l put down the cheapest flooring he could find and covered it with cheaper carpet . The carpet’s all up and gone now and I’m left with “chipboard” floors that snag up my soxen faster than I can knit them. Good thing I can’t afford good yarn.
    Just wanted to say hi, oh, and yeah, I am an electrician (though I’d rather be a tech writer, but that’s another story), and though it’s not that safe we do it all the time – work in hot panels, that is. It’s probably because we made dumb decisions early in life and became construction workers rather than what we should have done, so now we’re just fed up with life in general and don’t wear seatbelts or watch what we eat.
    Thank the gods I discovered yarnery four years ago. It’s given me back a reason to be more careful in hot panels, though I still don’t always wear my seatbelt.
    I promise I won’t make a habit of babbling like this on your blog. I’m not really psychotic, it’s just the vodka. I’ll shut up now.
    One more thing, that white cubby-thing you showed in this morning’s entry would look so good filled with yarn, don’tcha think? Just in case you hadn’t thought of that. _Now_ I’ll shut up.
    peace,
    julie

  216. Hi! You’ve probably already gotten to the walls, but I thought I should warn you of the necessity of dusting before you start painting. Most likely you already know that. My husband is a builder and regularly refinishes floors (wherever did you find people like your re-finishers? They should be flogged and fricaseed!) Still, even if you’ve dusted the bedroom, dust has this fatal attraction to wet paint. It’s amazing how dust can find it’s way from the most obscure corner to ruin a beautiful paint job.
    I thought your post was hilarious, by the way. I love reading your blog!

  217. That dust is the story of my life. DH has his woodshop in the basement, so it just gets everywhere. Add to that that we heat with wood. Let’s just say that I’m slowly learning that storing things in plastic tubs/bags is much easier on me. Someday I’ll tell you about the “replace the main breaker without turning off the electric” activity.
    Great looking floor! Lots of others have given great tips, so here’s mine: prep is everything when painting. Get the blue tape and use it; use lots of it; there’s also a product around here that is light, plastic sheeting attached to blue tape. Wonderful stuff for using around the floor edge and windows. Oh, and I like a 2″ (5 cm) angled sash brush for trim work…that size seems to work best and fastest for me.

  218. Yeah, it’s a good thing you took that picture because I totally wouldn’t have believed you otherwise!

  219. Thanks for allowing us to giggle at your expense!! Your floor looks awesome! Can’t wait to enjoy the rest of your renovation…from a safe distance.

  220. Love your room, Stephanie. The light is beautiful & the ‘new’ floor glows.
    Glad you are SAFE. Just wondering – Don’t you have standardised electric outlets in Canada? If not, why on earth didn’t the FloorGuys check the outlet situation with you when you booked?
    Also wondering why the ‘little fire’ was put into the bag with the not yet combusted sawdust.
    Lucky you had snow to spread it out on. Here in drought stricken Australia it would have started a bush fire in the garden.

  221. Don’t worry about the urethane finish, especially if you bought the new water-based stuff. It’s much less stinky and much better finish on the wood than varnish or the old urethane, especially since you’re doing several coats, you get a nice glowing finish that’s good and hard and doesn’t require extensive prep to reapply in a year or two on wear areas. My sainted brother-in-law has a flooring company and he’d KILL any of his subs who pulled what those guys did. And thanks to him, everyone in the family is reasonably educated on flooring!

  222. Great story about the sawdust! But, honey, if you want to know about dust, take a look at my blog! You’ve got kids to help clean up the dust and you only have one floor to do. We’ve got multiple floors, walls, ceilings, etc. to be replaced over about 3 months (that’s their estimate, so I KNOW it will take longer). But the floor looks great and Joe’s going to be so surprised!

  223. Your floor is beautiful!
    Regarding the screwdriver in the power box: My husband is an electrician and he wasn’t concerned at all about screwing wires in a live electrical panel, he does it all the time as do all electricians, no big deal. Usually all you need is to turn off the circuit breaker on the circuit you are working on. Nothing to worry about. He did think the sawdust fire was bizarre though. Hope the rest of your project goes smoothly.

  224. Holy carp! The floor turned out so lovely, though, fires aside. lol
    I wanted to send you an invite to http://www.sybermoms.com because taking pictures of disasters and flesh wounds in exactly the kind of thing we love over there, as well as our kids, and knitting. lol

  225. Wonderful yarn! I love those beautiful wood planks. Do you know any of the history of your great old house and the original builder and occupants? We had a Queen Ann house with two turrets in California many years ago. We called the kitchen Early Mineshaft before remodeling. Original owner was a Russian countess who would go skinny dipping in the nearby creek. Those floors and walls and ceilings of yours have wonderful stories to tell.

  226. And here I was, thinking that my floors could also use a little refinishing… Never mind! I’ll live with the scratches.
    I’m sorry you’ve live through hell, but boy is it hilarious on the other end! Joe owes you BIG time.

  227. They don’t make floors like that any more. How happy it must be to shed all that paint.

  228. Ok, I am coming out of lurkdom for this. Too bad I couldn’t have sent you our floor guy, Leo, who was part of a sort of unofficial monastic household, and who saved up his money to go on (walking) medieval-style pilgrimages between religious shrines in Europe. Fascinating, even though he did not seem to like children much. Also he did not leave burning sawdust lying about. For a time we could only access our upstairs by climbing a tree in the back yard which was next to the upstairs back porch, going over the porch rail, and coming in by the upstairs back door. Good times.

  229. The existing wood floors beneath the layers of paint are just beautiful! I’m sure even the burning sawdust will be worth it when all is said and done.

  230. Wonderful story! And wonderful blog, day in, day out. But Stephanie, one key element is missing from this tale. Where, during all this drama, was your stash? Was it locked up in airtight bags, like the Bohus? If I remember correctly, that would be quite a few bags. . . .

  231. You’ll be finding that dust for years. We refinished the floors in an entire house (stupidly we did 4 of those rooms all at once… that was total insanity). I’d clean dust and clean dust. Time would pass and I would find more dust. When we moved I was packing the extra bedroom closet and found a little pile of dust up on the shelves that had apparently been “missed”.
    Then there was the time we had sandblasters inside the house…. now you’re talking dust!

  232. This is too funny. I was grumbling to myself because I didn’t have anything to talk about on my blog, but now I’m feeling kind of grateful. The floors look great though!

  233. That much dust calls for a vacuum. Stick the hose on your vacuum and suck it up and throw it away. None of those wimpy feather dusters (or rags) for that sort of mess. Your floor looks very nice though πŸ™‚

  234. What a bunch of cowboys!! – that is so NOT how to do a good job for a customer – when sanding floors the door to the rest of the house is supposed to be sealed with tape and a plastic sheet so that this dust problem doesn’t happen (or at least is reduced as much as possible – gah! – bloody amateurs! – we did our floors ourselves with a hand-held sander – it took time but at least I was in control!!

  235. You can’t possibly have a nice uneventful floor sanding can you? Everything has to be such a big magilla. You have to find the only troglodytes in Canada with a floor sander and hire them to burn down your house. When I told my husband (a journeyman electrician) about their wonderful adventure with the screwdriver, he asked if these guys were recommended by someone you thought was your friend. I told him to relax – you set up these situations on purpose so that you could keep your blog friends constantly entertained. Thank you, Stephanie,
    for all your sacrifices…

  236. Well, your bedroom reno was a bit more eventful than the one we just had (no sawdust fires, thank goodness!!), but the dust is going to be making its presence known for a long time, I’m afraid (it settles and re-settles). We’re still dealing with that little gift. Thank you for always making me smile – I read your blog first thing in the AM and it’s a great way to start my day.

  237. Hm…. somehow reminds me of my apartment which was in a disastrous state when I got it. Especially the six layers of wallpapers everywhere but for one room… which was painted in electric pink. Just for you information, I’m from Europe and the walls are made of bricks and plastered so some works are done differently. Anyhow…. the lowest layer of wallpapers held onto the plaster which didn’t hold on to the walls. So I ended up with patches of bare bricks. The hardwood floors were somewhat similar. No paint on them but layers of strange dirt and the whole place smelled of the dirt. There was bare concrete in the hallway and kitchen, covered by some ancient linoleum and the idea that floors ought to be flat was unbeknownst to the builders. so basically I had to have all the floors done (I have wonderful terracotta tiles from a sale and people just go sigh when they see them and even more wonderful oak). But the reno was a real purgatory, too.

  238. the floor is absolutely gorgeous!
    and the ‘events’ were definitely blog-worthy..!
    thanks for the first laugh of today! πŸ˜€

  239. So….are you going to let Joe read these blog entries after he gets back? You guys certainly aren’t going to lack for things to talk about…

  240. I sympathize with your fire woes! Back in the early ’90s I had a great (i.e. union scale) summer job at a pulp mill in B.C. All summer I walked around the giant chip piles (which are really just 4-storey heaps of sawdust) looking for fires… apparently, as you discovered, big piles of wood bits and air are tenacious burners. Not sure that one teenager keeping a hairy eyeball on the chip piles ever did much to prevent flare-ups, but maybe it brought the mill’s insurance rates down. And heck, it put me through university!

  241. Stephanie — yes, the floor is beautimous, worth it, stunning…but if I were you, I would call the supervior or manager or wossname and request some sort of price break on account of burning sawdust left without a word. They DID the job, it’s a good job (although my predecessors raised awfully good points about sealing off the room, &c) but that WAS a hazard, and had you not been there, it might have become truly difficult. But gosh we all love you, yours is the best blog going. (Hoping desperately to see you in St. Paul – in my old neighborhood! Want another Badger sticker?)

  242. The floor is beautiful. But to you really want to ruin it with urethane?
    I would use oil instead, and wash it with brown soap. Don’t seal such a lovely floor in plastic.

  243. Sawdust doesn’t have to be set afire . . . it will spontaneously combust, as the local pallet plant will attest. They have heaps of sawdust taller than buildings, and frequent visits from the fire department, more so in the summer.
    Good insulation in homes was unknown until the 1970’s energy crises . . . our house, built in 1892 had NO insulation until we blew it into the walls about 1980. Cut our heating bill in half!!

  244. Holy Crap, Stephanie…. I laughed out loud when I read your description of the morons that tried to commit suicide at your power panel.
    As I’ve said previously, you are a good woman… think of the personal growth you will experience through this process. πŸ˜‰
    We had lambs yesterday… I thought my day was chaos. Once again, you win.

  245. Stephanie – You did not realize this but you performed an amazing public service ™ when you blogged this one. I’m in the middle of a downstairs renovation and, ahem, yes, I have the floor refinishing in my future also. So – I will arm myself with Ziplocks (do they make them the size of couches?), buckets of water, and electrical service.
    I’m printing this and nailing it up on the studs in the kitchen as a very solemn reminder.

  246. When we knocked out the plaster and lathe walls of my grandparents’ house we found not only newspapers as insulation, but also wool! Big gobs of fluffy fleece. Hey, at least it is flame-retardant!
    Sorry about your floors. I will come over and dust for you if you write my resume for me. (seriously)

  247. Holy cats! That’s insane! But truly entertaining reading. And the floor is gorgeous. I think Joe will be pleased.

  248. Beautiful floors. I’ve skimmed the comments and didn’t see this suggestion: after finding out your first attempt to put out the fire didn’t work maybe a call to your local fire department would have been in order… The fire department may have been very interested in the idiots who caused the problem.
    Also, does Canada have a Better Business Bureau? Those floor-guys should be reported.
    It’s a very funny blog entry but I’m not sure I could have seen the humor if it would have happened to me. You are a kinder, more patient person than I am, I guess.

  249. How do these near disasters always happen to you??? I recommend calling the better business bureau, or whatever the Toronto equivalent is, and registering a complaint about this guy. Setting something afire, and hardwiring with sparks is NOT something that should be done. I’ve had floors refinished with no fires and no sparks, trust me. IT can be done in a dust free, no fire manner.

  250. Steph, welcome to my world! Hubby is a certified electrician and I’ve seen him stick things into things that things oughten to be stuck into too many times now. Believe it or not (all you who remarked on the lack of brain cells) it is possible and quite often (way more often than someone who doesn’t know) done, daily in the trades. *shrugs*…I find comments like this annoying just as much as I hate the *those big trucks have no right on the roads* attitudes (think about it, everything you have got to you by being on a truck at some point or another) sometimes it’s best to leave those who know what they are doing to doing it. That’s likely something they do on a regular basis and it’s not necessarily a lack of brain cells, nor a nonchalant disregard for their or anyone else’s safety. It could well be familiarity and confidence.
    I do admit to wondering why for a moment or two you didn’t just spread the sawdust out but then I remembered the before pics and the paint. Fires are sneaky, glad you were able to put it out and have everything wrapped up in a blog worthy of much snorting and laughter.

  251. So you too, now, have The Dust! I empathize heartily with you. We re-finished the bathtub recently, sanding down the existing finish on a cast-iron bathtub and layering on a new finish. The powder-fine dust that issued forth from the wire-wheel-on-the-grinder (something that should never make contact with your bath unless you intend to inflict massive damage) permeated every nook, cranny, and crevice of my entire house. We’ll be finding this dust for years to come, you and me both, I’m convinced. It’s too stubborn to just be sucked up into the vacuum and let me get on with my life already. I too live in an old house close to downtown in a city in the Midwestern US, so I understand much of what you have been through. Can you hear the standing ovation I’m giving you, from my house to yours? You are a brave, brave woman for taking this on; Joe will love it.

  252. I have to be honest here. I laughed until I cried.
    Your a trooper, keep up the good work.
    Makes me want to go home and sand my floor, it really does.

  253. I told Hubby this story, and he was aghast. Those idiots could have DIED soooo easily. He works with/around electricity on a daily basis and really coudn’t believe it.

  254. OMG, Stephanie, I nearly killed myself laughing. I’ve got pneumonia again, it could happen.
    OTOH, before letting contractors screw around in your electrical panel again, you should make sure to get a copy of their insurance certificate. If those guys had hurt themselves and they aren’t properly insured, they could sue you. At least they could on this side of the lake… if Canada has better insurance laws, I’d like to know about it.

  255. Job looks swell – but why didn’t you ask for some pre-construction tips? There are 4 knitting architects within spitting sistance of my cubicle – we would’ve happily ponied up a project plan – outlined steps, scosts, schedule & BACK SPARING tips! God is in the TOOLS, baby…like pole extenders for overhead rolling, tack cloths (50 cents ea) to suck up residual dust after you vacuum, line pans w/foil & TOSS when done (no washing!) – wrap rollers in plastic bags to keep em moist for the next day’s use! And a brazilian more ideas…ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE.
    Wish you went w/the sheetrocked ceiling. Painting the tiles is sort of like doing Joe’s gansey in acrylic instead of your gorgeous handspun.
    Oh another tip – put halved onions in large bowls of water in the room AFTER it’s painted – somehow lessens the paint smells). wacky but true.

  256. My husband and I (when we were young, foolish and even poorer than we are now) installed and sanded a new hardwood floor in our first house. It sucked for sure. After we had finished sanding we decided to go out for a beer leaving the sander in the middle of our beautiful new floor. For some reason that I can’t remember now, we returned to the house about 10 minutes later to find the sander on fire and a big black burn mark on the floor. Spontaneous combustion is a crazy thing! When we returned the sander to the rental place (sans bag) the rental guy was quick to show us that in very tiny print the sander warns about the possibility of fire. We came very close to burning down the whole house.

  257. Dust. Oh Yeah. A new 4 letter word. Used a lot around here, when we tore open the front of the house and ripped off the roof. Dust. Soul sucking dust. We hates it. It killed the 25 year old, suck-anything-up-and-never-stop, vacuum cleaner.

  258. Since your floors are pine, you are probably very, very lucky they didn’t start your floors on fire & burn your house down! Pine floors are supposedly very difficult to refinish & in Chicago, refinishers charged $7/square foot in 1980 (I have no idea how much it would cost now – probably $30-$0/square foot). The reason for the expense is that, if you leave the sander in one spot for too long, it can damage the wood &, if left for long enough, it can actually set fire (the friction on the soft wood) – & that “long enough” may not be all that long. Pine is very soft wood & catches fire easily (it also mars easily – we sold an old frig to a guy who fixed them up & resold them & the guy who picked it up dragged it out part way along one corner of the machine & made a huge crease in our lovely wide planked pine floor). There is nothing lovelier than wide planked pine floors but they are really fairly delicate. My ex & I never did get the floors refinished – it is hard to find someone who will do them around here – partly because there just aren’t that many pine floors & partly because it is so much easier for them to just run a sander over a nice hardwood floor & then lay on a couple coats of poly – so why should they bother working on the pine floors – unless, that is, someone will pay they 7 ior 8 times as much for the pine.

  259. Yikes! You’ve convinced me never to get my floors done. After we moved into our 1960s-built house in 1997, we thought, “Oh, some day when we have the money, we’ll get the hardwood refinished.” Now I’m just terrified. Dust on the dishes in the cupboard – shudder!

  260. i am an editor by profession, and i gotta say: you are so funny! nobody with an ootch of sense and good taste can deny that this is a masterful piece of writing.
    sorry about the lack of capital letters, but i had wrist surgery 2 days ago and [1] must keep right hand iced and elevated above my heart for 72 hours; and [2] can type only w/left hand. can’t drive, shower, shampoo, push, pull, lift anything, or even knit [the horror], but, by god, i can read your blog. so here i am, and you cheer me up [or maybe that’s the vicodin].
    whichever the case, you rock. thanks.

  261. Sorry so late here, I’m way behind on my reading. The dust from refinishing floors cannot be underestimated. I recently experienced this firsthand myself as we did not only two flights of stairs but my bedroom. Thank goodness we didn’t have a sawdust fire (priceless blogging indeed!) but the dust and the smell hung around for quite a while. Looks gorgeous though!

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