Sunday, March 27, 2011

Finding the Zen in Sanding Floors

With seven days left until the new True North Yoga studio opens for classes, the excitement is really starting to build.  I'm already enjoying being on Main Street.  Whenever we are there working friends who walk by stop in and say "hi."

The last big job to get the space ready is almost complete.  We cleaned up the paint cans, brushes and rollers and turned our attention to the floor.  When I looked at the space, I fell in love with the floor.  It's not perfect.  The building is 70 years old and has been renovated a number of times.  There are now three sections of flooring, each a different wood, and the floor is a bit wavy in spots.  After practicing yoga on a cold tile basement floor for the past two years, however, the feel of the warm wood appealed to me, imperfections and all.

The floor had seen lots of wear and tear over the past seven decades, so I decided the best thing to do was refinish it.  I am very blessed because my dad is a master of remodeling and was happy to help me with the floor.  Well, maybe not happy, but it was an opportunity to play with a really big power tool, so he wasn't unhappy.

Sanding the floor took a long time.  My dad, my husband and I worked for nine hours on Saturday to complete the rough sanding.  For the most part, I worked the tiny sanding tool around the edges, but I did get a turn with the big drum sander.  Once I got the feel for it, and stopped gouging the floor, I discovered that sanding a floor can be very meditative.

(Please don't try to this with other power tools, especially those with sharp edges, like chain saws and wood chippers.)

It is important to sand with the grain of the wood, so there is lots of walking slowly forward and backward, keeping the sander going in one straight line.  Certain spots needed a number of passes, so I walked the same line over and over.  The sander is very loud, and after awhile forming any kind of thought became impossible.  I just walked very slowly and focused on guiding the sander along the edges of the floor boards.

I was feeling very zen when my father got bored and took the big power tool back, and I was stuck with the very un-zen high-pitched whine of the tiny sander.

900 square feet didn't seem that big until we were sanding, and sanding, and sanding for hours.  After taking off layers of dirt, old finish and all the rough parts of the wood, we were left with quite a bit of saw dust.

This is what 900 square feet of sawdust looks like.  (Yes, the entire can is full of nothing but sawdust.)

Sunday morning we went over the floor again with a finer grit sandpaper to make it smooth.  We made it as smooth as we could for the barefoot yogis and yoginis.

It took nearly an hour after the sanding was finished to clean up all of the dust.  Finally my dad declared the floor ready for stain.

While the first corner of stain went on, I held my breath.  (I did the same thing when we started putting paint on the walls.)  I agonized over the color choice and hoped that the stain was dark enough to hide some of the imperfections but not so dark that it would hide the wood grain.  I hoped it wasn't too red, or too yellow.  I think I got it right.

Staining the floor took most of the afternoon, but shortly after 5:00pm my dad, kneeling in the doorway, put the last bit of stain on.  Then we locked the door and left it to dry until tomorrow, when the floor will get a coat of clear polyurethane.

Once the polyurethane is dry, I get to play.  Curtains and pictures, coat hooks and plants - these are a few of my favorite things.

Meanwhile, my dear friend Annie, who painted with me nearly every day, got the opportunity to show her incredible etchings as April's featured artist in Willows Bistro in Warrensburg, New York.  I am thrilled that she is getting the opportunity to showcase her art and I'm really looking forward to going to the opening reception.  Annie was there today to hang her art, and she brought back Chinese food, which is a huge treat for us because Schroon Lake doesn't have a Chinese restaurant.  Then she invited my family for dinner.

I have been truly blessed.

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