In my last blog post I shared some examples of ways I’ve “MacGyvered” my way to complete a job. Today I would like to share a couple more examples of ways that wood floor pros like us come up with solutions on the fly when we’re on a job site.

This was my infamous “couch that is bigger than the doorway” trick.

My customer lived simply, and she bought a really nice couch to watch TV with. After that she had a new front entry door installed, and after that a security door—the big metal kind of security door. She wanted the living room refinished, and I asked that she remove the personal items and I would do the rest. She was an elderly lady, and the items in the living room were a few small tables, ottoman and that large couch. I showed up to begin the job of removing the room contents before the carpet could be removed, and in a few minutes the couch was the only item remaining. To make a long story short, the new front door and security door were smaller than the door they had replaced, and all the other doorways (kitchen, hall, bedrooms) were smaller than the entry door. Well, forging ahead, we wrapped the couch in plastic and moved it from side to side as we removed the carpet, then refinished the floor.

Then it came time to coat the floor.

As I was sanding with the big machine I had time to think, and I came up with the idea to suspend the couch in the air using 2x4’s and the two front windows that I could open (the picture window in between was not used for my fancy idea). I put two drywall screws into the feet of my creation to make the contact point on the floor as small as possible when I coated it. It’s challenging to describe, so here are the pics:

One more MacGyver example I recall was when I was mopping on a sealer coat of oil-base on a Douglas fir floor using a lambswool applicator. You all know what I’m going to say before I finish! The lambswool applicator is like Velcro to the fibers of the Douglas fir, and I snagged some decent slivers in my lambswool (as usual). Well, on at least four occasions the slivers from this floor were the size of chopsticks! Imagine being so close to being done for the day and snagging a chop-stick-sized sliver! Knowing you have to mop a wet edge, you literally have like three minutes or less to figure this out before the oil-base starts to skin over. So, like you all know, I ran to the work truck and grabbed my trusty Titebond wood glue and glued the sliver back in and quickly resumed mopping the sealer coat on. Of course you know it wasn’t perfect, but the next day the adhesive was dried, and it can with stand a light sanding to make it right. I don't have pics of that particular job, but here's a similar one I had to do on red oak:


Thinking on your feet, yeah, we get tested on that on nearly every job. Sometimes the things Mr. Murphy hands us seem impossible to overcome, but we manage to hang in there and sort it out. These little victories are awesome, and no one notices or cares. All we have to show for it is a day where our goals were met—even against overwhelming odds.

But those odd are not overwhelming for us. This McGyver spirit resides in each of us, and I hear the stories. The homeowner who wants to see 57 shades of brown stain when you have to take your child to Little League practice in 1 1/2 hours. Or a top roller bearing going out on your big machine when you are stuck out in the middle of nowhere and you somehow finish your rough cut and then find the bearing you need for the next day. Which reminds me: Once my vacuum pulley bearing failed, and when I opened the pulley guard on my big machine, a single ball bearing from the pulley bearing dropped onto the wood floor. It was so hot it charred the floor boards in the shape of a crescent with a dot at the end! (I don’t have a pic of that—it was before smart phones.)

Stuff like that. Things like this that get thrown in our laps and still we stick it out and find solutions and finish our day. I salute all of you, and I seriously think not many would be able to persevere so elegantly as we do every day!

See more from Angelo DeSanto:

A Distinction I Never Wanted: Being Expensive

How I Stand Up to GCs to Get Paid Quickly

Can You Be King of the Hill in Your Wood Flooring Market?

A Wood Floor Pro’s Rant: Post-It Notes and Slow-Pay Customers


Angelo DeSanto is owner at Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based Dande West.