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The plan is to get this floor professionally refinished. But before we do that, I thought I’d experiment with just doing it with a belt sander and I’ve already done this patch here and it came out pretty clean, but it’s pretty slow going with this sander. I should say it was very slow when I previously tried it, but I since switched to a brand new 50 grit sanding belt, and that works much faster.
Now going over it with some finer sand paper to smooth it out. So the next thing I was thinking of is to just to try to scrape the old varnish off. But that gets tiring on the arms very quickly. So, my next thought was to have this on a stick, but if it’s on a stick, like this, I really have to push down very hard, still hard on the arms. If I had a stick and I was pushing on it, like this, then I’m pushing down and across at the same time but I think this scraper will just have a tendency to dig into the floor and get stuck, so I some kind of pulling motion, and that’s where this invention comes in. The scraper goes in here, and there’s a nail that it pivots on. And then I have this spring. It pulls back on the scraper and then these wheels actually offset it from the ground so that hopefully I’m still pulling it along. So, let’s see how that goes. Well, this scraper leaves a cleaner finish but it’s definitely slower than the belt sander. So, I thought I would try a carbide-tip scraper, and that should also hold it’s edge much longer. Whoops, and I just put that in backwards. Too much spring tension. These vibrations are a real problem. I’m gonna try to add some weight here, but I also need something to absorb the energy so I’m going put this rubber inner tube here, and then hold it on there with rubber bands. And, hopefully that will be a bit like putting your finger on a piano string or a bell to just dampen it out. Oh yeah, that made a difference. And that carbide seems to be much sharper or at least my other scraper has gotten dull. Well, I think the belt sander is still faster, but the scraper leaves a much smoother surface. I’m just gonna cover what I’ve done so far with some varnish to see how it looks. Well, that varnish sure brings out the imperfections like all the scratches here that didn’t really show when I had it sanded, or for instance right here where I just didn’t sand deep enough. My scraper contraption kind of worked, but the belt sander with 50 grit sand paper was much faster, fast enough that I decided to do the whole floor with it. When I posted a picture of this set up on Instagram, there was quite a few people telling me it’s terrible idea but it actually seems to be working fairly fast. And so far it’s shows no sign of clogging up, so I figure it should be just fine for doing the whole floor in here. Well, this is about as close as I could get to the edge with the Makita, which is why I bought this one, because this one goes very close to the edge. I couldn’t get all the way into the corner with a belt sander so that last little bit, I’m doing with the scraper. There’s quite a few spaces with large gaps so I’m filling these with little strips of wood that I’m cutting to just the right size and here’s another gap. And, this strip of wood just about fits, but it tapers down here. I’ll just taper the strip down until it fits. What works best for the smaller spacers is to just put a bunch of construction adhesive on the back of it, and then squeeze the glue in that way. Now, I should have worn rubber gloves while doing all that because it took about five days for all the construction adhesive to finally come off my fingers after doing all those patches. Two days later, once the glue had finally hardened I used a small hand plane to trim all my shims flat with the surface, though later on I switched to a scraper, it actually worked pretty good and it was much faster. As I progressed, I actually started sanding perpendicular to the grain of the wood for a while, because as the belt was getting a little bit duller, just gave it a much better bite on the wood. I also set up a box fan with the furnace filter in front of it to suck the air through it and got help cut down on the airborne dust a fair bit. Once I had all the varnish sanded off, I switched to sanding parallel to the wood to get it smoother, and then I switched to a finer sanding belt and I went along every board individually to get a smooth surface. Once I was done with all the sanding, I swept sawdust across the floor, going across the boards instead of along them to try to fill any remaining gaps with sawdust as well as possible and I didn’t vacuum the floor beyond that before varnishing to make sure that that sawdust stayed in the gaps. I made a simple squeegee-like brush by folding up a piece of disposable shop towel, and clamping that to another board that was on the end of a stick. I put the first coat of varnish on by mostly sweeping across the boards instead of along them, again in the hope that the sawdust in the cracks would stay in there.
Once that varnish had dried, there was all kinds of little bumps on it, I imagine that’s probably because there was dust left on it from not vacuuming the floor. It’s necessary to sand wood after the first bit of varnish anyways because it makes all the fibers stand up, but I decided to go at it with a scraper instead just to make sure I catch all the bumps in the varnish. And, then I went over the whole floor with a piece of sandpaper. I thought about putting a sanding pad at the end of a stick, but going over it like this, I was able to see any flaws that needed extra attention much better. At first I thought my sawdust gap-filling method didn’t quite work, but then I realized those gaps were in fact filled with sawdust, but the sawdust and varnish ended up just being very dark so in the worst spots I ended up scraping what was in there back out and filling it with wood putty to match the color a bit better. This would have been much easier to do before I applied varnish, live and learn, I applied the second coat of varnish going parallel to the boards, but this time around I worked in a different direction and as such I couldn’t see see the reflection against the light as well as I did the first coat, which means I actually missed a couple of spots. And, this time I still had some bumps in the varnish, so I went over it again with the scraper, but this time with a very thin and flexible scraper. And after that another light sanding with 120 grit sandpaper. And, this being a final coat, I was very careful to vacuum the whole floor and get every speck of dust. I put the last coat on with a regular brush. This took way longer, but I was able to get much more consistent thickness of coat on there. Final coat is done, behold the gleaming imperfection. So, this thing worked well enough for me to do the whole floor with, but if you’re re-finishing your own floor, I’d recommend just renting a flooring sander because that would be much faster than this. But if you do rent a flooring sander you’ll also have to rent an edging sander to do the edges with, and if you have to rent one of those for just two days, you’re better off actually buying one of these belt sanders, so this may be a good investment. This definitely isn’t a guide for how to finish a floor, but I hoped you learned from some of my mistakes, and maybe the take-away is paying somebody $5. 00 a square foot to refinish a floor, is actually not such a bad deal. .