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Sawdust

Hits 1809 | Created 2004-11-18 | Modified 2007-05-16

Thereís sawdust everywhere. Itís in my hair, under my nails, in the fabric of my clothes, in my nose, my ears, between my toes, and generally settled in my lungs. Not the nice kind of sawdust that you plunge your hand into to grab a prize at a lucky-dip, oh no, the finer kind, the dust and airborne kind. Yes, another day with unlikely sanding machines.



When I met my mother-in-law today she informed me that we were going to hire equipment form another vendor. This struck me as suspicious - had the last people said something about the sander and she had just not mentioned it? As it turned out, she had decided to change as she didnít want to see me bending over for another five hours with a belt sander, so she had another thing in mind, something she had seen used by workmen in the past - the upright sander.

Imagine a vacuum cleaner, but more severe.

So, another burly, overall-clad, condescending man later, we hauled an extraordinarily large and heavy sander-vacuum-cleaner into the boot of the car. It was very, very heavy. As is (now) usual, the man had shown me how to load the sanding paper onto a large roller in a casual, non-informative way and curtly dismissed us.

True to form, we couldnít work out how to fir the paper - it involved three screws (which previous renters had mangled terribly), a flat metal bar, and a large cylinder. After some faffing about we managed to mount the first roll. The plug was so old and battered that it kept falling out of the wall, so I had to employ some masking tape in large amounts to secure the connection.

On goes the machine.

Itís not as loud as the belt sander, surprisingly. I lower it to the wood and it makes an angry, snarling, ripping, shredding, end-of-the-world type of noise and spits the sanding sheet out onto the decking, in tiny bits.

We mount another sheet, using a different technique. I lower the revving machine and the same thing happens. We discuss the problem, she seems to think that it is due to nails, so I hammer all the nails soundly further into the wood, although they arenít proud (so to speak). The next attempt is a little better and I manage to strip wood viciously for about ten seconds before the sheet rips to shreds. We decide that it is due to the uneven wood ends and to stick to the centre of the planks for now. The next sheet mounts tightly, having got the technique right, finally, and I manage to sand for about forty minutes without a problem.

It all went rather well in the end. I got better and better, and I had no more ripping sheets. My mother-in-law retired inside, obviously satisfied that I wasnít going to destroy the machine.

Anyway, four hour later and most of the decking is smooth and lovely. The edges still need to be done with a belt sander, as do a few patches where the wood is uneven, but itís a good job.

Anyway, we take the hulking sander back to the shop and wait for half an hour as burly overall-clad men ignore us until we finally get to pay. My mother-in-law mentions that weíll be back to hire a belt-sander to finish the edges. What? Says the man, Didnít you use the edge attachment?

What edge attachment?

Well, they are supposed to supply with the machine and add-on which allows you to sand edges next to walls and corners.

Sorry, he said.

The saga continues.



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