Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Unexpectedly Pitchy

We hurried back from Readfield yesterday so that we could rent a random orbit floor sander and get going on finishing our floors. The plan was to sand them down and then coat them in a mixture of walnut oil and beeswax that we had made.
Only a few minutes into our sanding adventure, though, it became apparent that we had a pitch problem. The blaring sun and hot, humid weather over the last weeks has made all of the knots in our floors leak pitch, and even though it was fairly solid when we started sanding, it quickly gummed up the pads which then re-distributed a sticky mess across the entire floor. Ick.
We called Fat Andy's who finishes floors nearby, and they said that there's really nothing we can do except have the boards fired in a kiln to set the pitch- 24 hours at a certain temperature and humidity should do the trick- something that did not happen before they were purchased, apparently. If we don't do that, they said we have to wait for 10-15 years until they stop secreting pitch. Uhm... What? Other lumber mills told us that no one puts floors down in July or August because it's too hot and humid. I wish we had known that before!
So, we decided to take our chances and keep trying. We got out the turpentine and wiped down all of the pitchy spots and then we scraped off as much pitch as we could.
Jon tried to sand again in the newly pitch-free places, and the same thing happened again. We went through a number of sets of pads, but it seemed like we should just cut our losses and bring the sander back. So, we did.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, we welcome them! It's surprisingly hard to find information on Google; I thought Google knew everything! So, our new plan is to get to work on other things (since there are so many) and try finishing the floors again once the weather cools down- like in September.
Maybe during a cool spell we will scrape the floors down again in the evening, and get up early in the morning the next day to sand the heck out of them (with tons of pads and a coarser grit like 40) before it gets too warm. And then we'll shellac it quickly before the pitch can come back. Apparently 2-3 coats of dewaxed shellac should do the trick. It will look different than our walnut oil finish, but at least our toes won't stick to the floor any more!

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