Saturday, September 18, 2010

Four clear winners

The two story open plan design of our house meant that we had a span of 9 metres to cover.  Not astronomical, but a bit of a challenge all the same.  The company that sold us the LVLs (Laminated Veneer Lumber – which is basically really hefty “plywood” with a funky name) came up with an engineered solution using 395mm x 55mm LVLs at 450mm centres. 
We had planned to leave these deep beams exposed, contributing to the pioneering, hand made texture of the house.  What we hadn’t banked on however, was that every beam would come with the date and manufacturer printed on it in wide black lettering.
We could have opted to paint the beams, but we felt that would look at odds with the warm oiled timber finishes on the Tassie oak windows, cedar doors and tallow wood stairs.  So, that left just one option – sanding.
Between us, Nette and I have spent around 60 hours sanding the blessed ink off the beams.  It’s been impossible to remove 100% of it, but it now looks aged and a lot less obtrusive.
A plus side of all this sanding is that it has enabled me to draw four conclusions:
The Dust-Bee-Gone works.
My highly scientific “blow my nose on the clean hanky test” has confirmed in my mind that the DBG filters out 95% more dust than the el cheapo dust masks. It’s that simple.  Here's some more info about them.

Electric sanders are consumables.
I kill at least one electric sander a year, usually just after the warrantee runs out (how do they know?). The upside is that I have worn out a lot of sanders over the last two decades and feel somewhat of an expert on the subject. I have tried cheap ones and expensive ones. My first observation has been that price is not a reflection of longevity.  To replace my last dead sander ($60-Ryobi, good sander, but only lasted 13 months) I lashed out and bought a DeWalt for $130. After 14 hours of solid sanding this weekend – I love it.
Compared to any other sander I’ve used: it captures more dust, runs markedly cooler, is significantly lighter (granted, it is the smaller quarter sheet size) and has the longest cord. If it lasts more than 12 months it will be a bonus.

The best sand paper is white aluminium oxide.
It keeps sanding for longer than anything else I’ve used. The best brand I’ve encountered is Carborundum. The worst performer I have experienced is the yellow painters’ sandpaper. As far as sandpaper goes, the yellow stuff makes a good non-slip drink coaster.

And the forth ….
God is good…but I already knew that.

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