This is way past due, forgive me! I’ve been out and about: three weeks of wood and dust. Truth be told, I would not have it any other way. When you are having fun, the weeks seem to rush by, but when it’s something you dislike it takes a lifetime. My last three weeks have been a blast!
Let’s go back to the start of the rush:
I was in Wichita, Kan., with Wichita Wood Floor Specialists. Jessie Sample started a small refinish company with a goal of just doing the clean and recoat program using the chemical system and auto scrubber. Well, as his job list got bigger and more calls started coming in, he soon knew that he was leaving money on the table. Many floors were past a recoat but needed a re-sand as well as repairs. He took the time to do research and soon found the NWFA training classes. That is where we first came in contact, and he was a man on a mission. After the class, he asked if I could work with his crew and introduce the style and ideas that he has picked up at the NWFA class. So, like always, it’s hard to say no, and we set a date for my visit.
Being honest, folks think I can sand a floor very flat and hide a bunch of imperfections, but it’s not me, it’s the tools. I took the American Sanders 3DS with me, and that tool—like many multi-disc tools—can and will make a floor sweet; that is why we call it “Sweetie.” The first half of the first day I asked them to clean and vacuumed the house, which was really dirty. That may seem odd, but if the rooms next to the area we are going to sand are dirty, then that dirt can and will be in our finish. Next I asked, “Do you have two big machines?” "Yes, why?" was the response. They were going to only use one, but we ran to the box store and got the things we needed to make a breaker box. With a 50-amp plug and two power boosters, we can run two big machines at the same time, understanding that each unit will pull 16-18 amps and with the power boosters in line, we can kick it into get-R-done mode.
We had a chat about sandpaper and how it works. I start with my line: "Tell me what the big machine does." I get the same things over and over. It sands, it flattens, it cuts, more of the same answers. I tell them no, it does not do any of those things. So what does it do? It turns the paper—it’s a paper turner.
Understanding the grit, pressure and the way it turns is all that matters. From there, they worked like a well-oiled team. We had the floor ready for stain in a day-and-a-half.
I had a trip to Boise, Idaho, with Intermountain Supply. They are being proactive with their inside sales and tech support. We had three panels going at one time: install, sand and a bunch of fun. We started out the day with a Powerpoint; can I say this too much? ”Get the house ready for the wood and get the wood ready for that house.” We talked about an improved thought process for acclimation, the install and why it needs to be done in a different way. It was a very engaged class; they never stopped trying the tools. One day out and back, but it was a very great day of teaching and sharing. I am looking forward to more of the same thing with them.
In the same week it was time for on-the-job training with Allen with A-Max floors. He had two drum sanders that were not running well, and the trouble is they are sports floor units. It’s not like you can take them to a local dealer and get them fixed. It’s not that they cannot fix them, it’s the power they need to run them. The best way to deal with it is on the job site so that when it’s time to run them, you can run them. We broke them down to the frame and back again. If you are a sports floor contractor, it is important that you fully understand how, what and what if. The hard part is the location—in the back room of a gym. We used the tables, chairs and whatever we could use to make it work.
This week started slow but ended with a nice finish. I was asked to try a new product, a finish from American Sanders. I don’t like testing finish on a panel or “lab.” It never seems to be real world, because it’s not. So the hard part is always finding a small enough real job that I can do it by myself. My luck was that it turned out to be a job with 400 feet of 1½-inch white oak with shellac, ugh! It had uneven floors; they were worn, and the shellac made it that much more fun. As you can see, I had to start on a 45 and get it flat, next get it cleaned up and ready for finish. Today I will put on the topcoat and, with luck and time, see how it holds up. I like testing products—it helps me better understand what is what and better ways to help contractors.
Next week I am headed to the NWFA Expo in Charlotte, N.C., and I am looking forward to it! There are some cool things going on, plus for me, a little extra: Rusty Wallace will be our speaker and—this is the cool part—he will be in our booth signing autographs. So come see a legend, come see us. We will be looking for you.
That’s it, it’s a bit long but it has been fun—fast and fun. Hope to see you in Charlotte at the Expo.