“We are what we can imagine.” — N. Scott Momaday

“Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

Not that we’re out to change the world, at least, not all at once.

But we definitely changed the floor.



first, removal of the old boards, featuring crowbars, hammers, and a fair bit of hand strength, and our friend Jim, who is a perfectly amazing, skillful and generous human being.

then, cutting new boards and placing them into the slots.

the shiny-new boards (paler) are brand new red oak from a 1×6 from home depot (yeah, i know); the more polished-looking darker ones are used red oak flooring from the ReStore. we bought all they had in stock–one bundle–and supplemented from there.

then nailing in the boards, and insetting the nails so they wouldn’t catch up the sander:

then we went along the floor with scrapers, removing all that accumulated paint & drywall compound that was everywhere. then we coated the floor with a thin layer of red oak filler compound, which is mostly sand & sawdust, and looks rather like paint. or peanut butter. while doing so, we worked it into all the cracks between boards, and low spots, and rough areas where replacing the board was too much work but it still needed some help. by then it was after 8 pm, and we’d started around 10 that morning.

having let that dry overnight and gone home for a much-needed exhausted collapse, we then rented a belt sander and resumed work early the next morning. The sander has a 24-grit belt on it, roughly the texture of a gravel driveway, and is taking off a solid eighth-inch of the floor everywhere it goes. given the floor, this is a good thing.

thus, the floor is gradually revealed, with much going-over of low spots, cupped boards, and rough areas.

Jim headed home sometime around 3 or 4, and Tristan took over driving the sander, while i put the palm sander–called a corner-cat, for it’s rather iron-like shape, to good use, with jenny’s help.

note dust motes, and dust masks; there’s ear protection going on, too. as Jenny said, it’s great working all night with a group of people who can’t hear each other and whose facial expressions you can’t see.

this is my favorite picture. as alan said, some people pay for expensive photo editing software to get effects like this. we just used sawdust.

increasingly, as the night wore on, there was room for group effort. here is tristan with the big sander, alan cleaning up behind and before him, to make life easier and for dust-control, jenny with the small sander, and me filling in holes in the floor with more filler. Fox took this photo, and the some of the others, including the sawdust one i like so much, up above. :)

The rough-sand being done, we performed a general sweep while Tristan changed the belt on the sander to 80-grit.  Because there are four of us and we were multitasking, rather than doing this sequentially, the filler was more or less dry by this point.  Generally, one would now put the filler in any egregious holes (we still had 6, even after all that—the stuff shrinks and has to be re-applied to particularly low areas), then wait for it to dry, then do the final sand.  Instead, it being around midnight at this point, we leapt straight into the final sand from here.

Alan’s holding the cord out of the way and sweeping, enabling Tristan to make the next pass walking backwards, rather than turning the sander with every pass. i thought the cord collective was amusing, in particular the action shot with the broom here.

and voila! 29 hours and lots of sweat later, it’s a brand new old floor!

The *complete* set of photos, and a whole lot more besides, can be found here:


i don’t know about you, but i’m in love with it.