Me (on the far right) with Rusty Wallace to my right. (Photo by David Stluka Photography)

Out and out and out is what it seems like; it’s been fun and challenging.

Lets start with the fun parts first, then hit the bad notes as we move forward. I left the house on April 26 for the NWFA Expo. What a great show—had a blast seeing friends and making new friends. Having Rusty Wallace in the booth was a total blast. That man has story after story about his racing years, but some of the best ones came after he started working as a broadcaster. Hope you were able to stop in and see him in our booth.

I helped at an NWFA install class in Chesterfield, Mo., at the NWFA headquarters. I had a guy, Mark Williams, on my panel who has been in the business for years, and now he was working on becoming an inspector. My hope was to show him one trick—one something—he had not seen, done or heard of. Well, his comment to me was, “I should have done this years ago.”

I ask him to write a quick note about what he said to me and include it in this blog. Here is what he said:

NWFA Intermediate Installation students Mark Williams (holding the mallet) and Santiago Cosentino.It is not easy to forge your own path. In the hardwood flooring contracting business, technical skills and business acumen are a critical part of the equation. It struck me, as a recent attendee of the NWFA intermediate Installation school in St. Louis, how important a review of these skills are. I found both the classroom time and the small group time educational. Our instructors were engaged and well-informed on topics such as tool safety, job-site safety, environmental concerns, equipment choices, flooring layout, installation techniques, wood species discussion and the many facets of the wood flooring business. I particularly enjoyed the creative synergy applied by the individual workgroups during the hands-on flooring installation phase. It was imaginative, as well as team building. As we proceeded with our trammel point exercises, the group interaction reminded me of how important team building is! This interaction and the larger network developed during the week was both stimulating and valuable. I left the school knowing my skills had been sharpened and I had many new friends. Thank you, NWFA, for your continued leadership.

The last part of the out and about was some challenging stuff. I went to help a friend in Somerset, Ky., because he was getting too many imperfections with his big machine. So, I set aside some time to sand 600 feet of maple with him. We stained it dark and coated it with water base finish. No big deal, right?

Well, Step No. 1: It’s usually hard to stain maple, but it’s a lot easier with water base stain, so that was not a problem. Step No. 2 is usually even easier … until you are tired and stupid. We had four jugs of finish: two gallons of single-component and 2 gallons of two-component. Well, I mixed the hardener in the single-component finish. It most cases it would work OK, but not on this one. It flashed off fast and after about five minutes it looked like this...

... moon craters and/or orange peel on 90% of the floor. We did our best to fix my mistake: buffed it, hand-rubbed it and even jitter-bugged the wall lines. Step No. 3: hope a topcoat will hide and blend it. It did not! I am headed back to Somerset to help re-sand the job. I told the homeowners it’s 100 percent my mistake and James had nothing to do with it. He was happy to see us own it and that we are willing to fix it. I am not happy that the mistake was made and that James has to help with the work.

More out and about next week. It’s been a full month, so be ready for some more stories. And hope for no more mistakes!

Wayne Lee

Wayne Lee worked for a sanding machine manufacturer for 24 years before starting his own wood floor and tile contracting business, Cardinal Hardwood & Tile, full time in 2008. In 2013 he began working as business development and technical advisor for Middle Tennessee Lumber. Wayne has taught thousands of students at wood flooring schools and has his Craftsman, Master Craftsman, Vanguard and Ambassador degrees from the NWFA. He is based in Springville, Tenn., where he lives with his wife of 30 years, two daughters, one dog and three barn cats.