Operation: Productive

Faced with the prospect of three days at home, it was time to get cracking on the apartment. There was an endless amount work to be done, I didn’t know where and what to begin on. Friday night, I needed a sense of accomplishment so I sanded and painted the patch in my closet so that I could put back all the contents that normally live there. I even put away all the shoes that had formerly littered the floor in a feat of orderliness. Very satisfying for very little time and very little work.

Saturday was spent working on that old cabinet. Hammer, chisel, and metal spatula in hand, I chipped away at the old joint compound around the cabinet. The right tools really mad a difference, even for getting at where the crown meets, a bit of a horror show as with every dig to get the gunk out yielded the black corpses of cock roaches past. Because of the gap between the crown and the cab, I needed wood filler. Looking like the Amy Winehouse of the neighborhood – hair in a lumpy disarray, white crustiness around my nose from sanding, and the dazed look of breathing fresh air – I stocked up at the hardware store so that I could be prepared to work for the next 48 hours.

I learned with the wood filler, one needs a gentle hand, and the other is to hold a damp sponge to wipe up any excess messiness. I say this after sanding my little heart out to make my fill line less visible, after having slopped the gook on. For the first pass, I let it harden for the prescribed 30 minutes, but it was still soft, so for the next time around, I let it set overnight while I did my laundry, called my mother, moved the dishes out of the cabinet, and took out the garbage and recycling.

Sunday was for finally sealing the cabinet in Watco oil, as recommended by my cabinet maker. I’ve been a little afraid of using Watco oil since it can spontaneously combust. I found a how-to video on wooditis.blogspot.com, and I was put at ease, if not downright excited. The reason why Watco can spontaneously combust is because it gives off heat, hence the proper disposal of rags – soaked in cold water and tossed far from my abode. Using an old sock, I rubbed the oil on the cabinet, which soaked it up beautifully, but it made apparent any light wood filler and film of old varnish that I failed to get, specifically the crown. This contrast emphasized by the Watco, reminded me that I didn’t do that good of a job of stripping. Oh well. I applied a few more coats, wiped the excess off with the other sock, and let it sit while I went to a barbecue.

The next morning, I sanded all the pale spots with the various sandpapers and aluminum oxide sponges that I had. I was worried that the vigourous rubbing of the sandpaper on the oil impregnated wood would be like striking a match – there was heat, but no combustion. The spots sanded off well without creating any bald spots like chipped nail polish, since the oil gets into the wood. I like Watco oil.

The rest of Monday was spent taping up the cabinet to prepare it for joint compound and paint, sanding and wet sanding the joint compound, and covering my stuff in plastic for when they paint tomorrow. It’s still a mess and doesn’t look all that different than it did on Friday, but I know what’s been done in three days, and that’s more than I’ve done in the past three months.

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