Sweat Equity

Day three sanding floors. So many layers to this job. Belt sander. Orbital edge sander. Vibrating edge sander. Hand blocks. Three grits of sandpaper for each — 60, 100, 120. Difficult corners. Putty. Emptying sawdust catch bags laden with varnish-saturated dust. Eyes puffy and irritated this morning. Endless trips to hardware store and rental place for fuses, sandpaper, tarps, tape, snacks for friends who drop by to help, back to house for forgotten tools.

But there’s something just right about tackling a huge project the minute escrow closes — sweat equity goes right in (literally — drops of sweat will be entombed forever in the raw floors tomorrow when acrylic goes on). Becoming familiar with every nook and cranny, eye-to-eye with cobwebs, glitches, anomalies.

The closets were the real test. The belt sander won’t fit. But the bag on the orbital doesn’t seal properly, and tends to fall off if knocked sideways, which happens frequently in the small confines. When the bag pops off, the powerful blower throws plumes of sawdust in your face. You recoil, letting go, and the unit spins like a helicopter blade, wrapping its cord around itself. The room fills with dust and smoke. Cuss. Regroup. Vacuum. Retie. Duct tape. Carry on. Our closet floors will look dynamite.

Chris, Andrew, Mike, Roger, Paula, thanks all for your generous help these past few days. Like an old-fashioned barn raising, friends coming by to raise high the roofbeams.

Through the mask of sawdust, I am falling in love with the house we just bought, in an intimate way I don’t think I could if we had had the floors done professionally.

Music: Toots And The Maytals :: Sailin’ On

6 Replies to “Sweat Equity”

  1. I remember a line from John Muir’s “The Guide to Volkswagen Repair for the Complete Idiot,” which sort of changed my life:

    “Adjusting your own valves will not only change your relationship with your car, it will change your relationship with yourself.”

  2. A couple of lines from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance spring to mind:

    “The cycle you’re working on is a cycle called ‘yourself.'”


    “Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind.”

    I wonder, is the VW book guy related to the naturalist John Muir?

  3. Pingback: Mercurial

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