This was definitely a project that took much longer than we anticipated, much longer than it should have, with pitfalls that could have been avoided. But we were anxious to start. And had no idea what we were doing.
Each machine had upsides and downsides-- little quirks that we'll know how to better manage the next time we tackle a project like this (Ha!).
The palm sander.
It's the best $30 investment we've ever made and I love it. Since it didn't make the swirls that the edger did, it was perfect for the lighter edging, and it's smaller size and lighter weight made it great for reaching places the sander couldn't or tackling angled boards.
It's my hero.
The Best Investment runner-up award goes to the shop vac WITH WHEELS. Put a long extension cord on it, and it follows you around the house while you hunch over to get all those pesky little dust particles.
I've heard a lot of horror stories about the amount of dust that this project creates, but I don't think I was ready. I wore a paper mask, but I still could have built a new bedroom suite out of what ended up in my nose, throat and mouth. I also tried to wear goggles, but they just fogged up with my mask-redirected breath and the sawdust in the air. I tackled the stuff that required putting my face right up to the floor since I don't wear contacts. Adam does, and I can only imagine how painful that would have been...
Having not expected to use the SquarBuff, we didn't do any research. By the end of the first day, my arms were killing me and I could hardly control the machine. It weighs as much as I do, and never wanted to go the direction I was asking it to. We later discovered that the buffer pads get smushed in one or other corner and proceed to pull that direction. Flipping over the pad until it's in the right position, and frequently changing pads, giving them time to refluff, all made a huge difference in control.
Mostly, though, it just took a long time. If we had been thinking, we'd have reserved the equipment, and made a list of everything that needed to happen to each room. We'd have checked to make sure we had some of each grit-- had EXTRA of each, since you can return what you don't use. We'd have worked in shorter spurts where possible. It takes such a toll on your body, that you stop using time very effectively. We'd have tested the floor finish and cleaned the wax. We'd have been more careful with the edger's swirling.
We probably would have risked losing some board to a diagonal pass with the drum sander. It would have saved a lot of hands-and-knees work and a lot of obsessing over how to deal with the chatter-- we probably wouldn't have eliminated it, since our floors are too lose to have secured them all, but it might have reduced it.
We wish we'd known sooner that the weekend special begins Friday night, not Saturday morning.
I keep thinking, "I am NEVER doing this again." And then I go through all the "wish I'd known"s in my head and I think it would be much better next time around. We won't be able to live in this house forever-- there's no room to grow, and we plan to do some more growing...But with both of us working in education and our love of older homes, the chances of us affording a totally renovated house any time in the future are slim to none. So I guess this is our tester house; we've got the time to make mistakes and got enough of a deal that we're allowed to screw up and still come out ok...