the doors

the doors

episode vi: The End.

With just less than a week until Ramadan, Allah enabled me to finish with the doors.

As in episode v, I started by lightly sanding, then wiping down the doors, before adding a third and final coat of varnish.

From a distance, they look good. Alhamdulillah.

But don’t look too close… I left some drips in there in a few spots…

And let’s wrap this up with a mention of a few of things I used: Spar Urethane (and enough leftover to varnish the doors once a year for 8-10 years…); a nice dark stain; some natural mineral spirits; a handy-dandy step ladder; some shop towels; a couple of high quality brushes; some empty paint cans (one for stripper, pictured in an earlier episode; another for mineral spirits/cleaning brushes); sandpaper (in 60, 80, 120, 180, and 220 grit—suck it up and use actual paper and sweat… the sandpaper sponge things look like they’d work ok, but in practice they’re not great, and for a door like this, a mechanical sander is not really practical); and everybody’s favorite blue painter’s tape.

And one more thing: clean your brushes. Tap out as much mineral spirits as possible, then wring into a towel you don’t care much about. Then coat with dishwashing soap and massage under hot water. Wring into a clean towel and hang to try.

Warning(s): stripper, mineral spirits, stain, and urethane varnish are volatile and not good to breath in. Use with proper ventilation and keep children away as much as possible. Also, with your oil-soaked rags: hang them to dry thoroughly, don’t leave them in a pile in the corner, or all folded up somewhere—they can purportedly combust spontaneously.

Thanks for tuning in!

And last, but not least, a couple of comments on the Foxy/Robusta combo I used throughout this project.

It’s one of my favorites: pleasant border, interesting tones, good color. But I just noticed something: there are hairs, or threads or something in the lens or film filter… you can see them clearly in many of the door shots. I noticed them when preparing these posts, and thought there was something in the iPhone lens for a bit. So watch out for these, should you use this combo.

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the doors

July 14 marked a turning point… we were finally going to start getting somewhere.

the doors

episode iv: sometimes a little stain is a good thing

First, as it had been a week since the doors had seen any action, I Dyson-ed, then wiped down the doors with mineral spirits (and none of that synthetic stuff: I had learned my lesson), and then it was time to get serious:

the doors|123|©JamesECockroft-20140615

A friend and I bought matching shirts one day out together, it may have been 1999 or 2000. I got a bit of paint on mine in 2004 or so, and it has become my de-facto let’s-get-messy shirt.


Staining is easy: paint on, wipe off; paint on, wipe off. The hardest part was getting in all the cracks.

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the doors

the doors

episode ii: in which we bring out the big guns…

So after two disappointing days with the stripper (aren’t they all?), and after consultation with Alex,*I returned to the home improvement center yet again, and picked up something I had wanted since I was a painting student: a corner cat power sander.

It was only mildly effective, and only on the large flat areas, which account for a decent chunk of the doors, but the those aren’t the parts I was particularly worried about…

I thought of returning to the store for a dremel, but seeing as Hana was already tiring of the mess—not to mention I was feeling a bit punchy too—I went with plan B (should’ve been plan A, likely: Allahu Alaam): sandpaper and sweat.

*who advised me of the first rule of Man Code (paraphrasing): Any excuse to buy a new tool is a good excuse to buy a new tool

Stay tuned! There’s lots more to come! Continue reading “the doors”

the doors

We interrupt regularly scheduled programming to bring you a special event…

Ladies and Gentlemen…

the Doors

episode i: it begins

the doors|3|©JamesECockroft-20140504

I guess it was 6 or so weeks ago, my dad was over for dinner, and—like every other male family member with any professional or technical knowledge—advised me on what needed to be taken care of straight away.

Specifically, the doors.

As solid wood doors, they require some care. Given that 1) the previous tenants were renting from my darling wife, who 2) has little or no knowledge of the proper maintenance schedule for solid-wood doors, especially doors that 3) face the harshest possible sun that Texas has to offer, in that they face directly west, the doors had had little or no tending in their 3+ years guarding the entrance to the house, and had begun to decay a bit.

So after my Memorial Day Work Marathon, I had a couple of days off, and so I decided to tackle the project.

Instructions were simple: 1) apply stripper; 2) scrub off with one of those green plastic scrubber things; 3) clean with mineral spirits; 4) apply stain; 5) apply 2-3 coats of Spar Urethane.

I expected I could rock the project out in a day or two, three at the most, working only from around sunrise to noon or 1pm.

Oh how wrong I was.

Pictured below, days 1 and 2 (May 28th and 30th). Here’s how they went down:

the doors|19|©JamesECockroft-20140528One:

  1. clean off stickers and brush any lose material off the doors
  2. apply stripper
  3. scrub with mineral spirits, to no effect*
  4. read instructions on the stripper
  5. suppress desire to curse, but only just
  6. visit the home improvement center for plastic scraper and another can of stripper
  7. return home, reapply stripper
  8. scrape doors with plastic  scraper, to little effect
  9. pack up for the night in disgust

the doors|31|©JamesECockroft-20140530-2Two:

  1. reapply stripper
  2. note that now the surface appears to be bubbling a bit
  3. scrape doors with plastic scraper, to little effect
  4. throw caution (and all online warnings) to the wind and forego the plastic scraper for one with a bit more bite
  5. finally get somewhere
  6. realize this is going to take a lot longer than I planned

Allahu Alaam (God knows, we don’t know, all knowledge comes from God alone, He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise) and Inna Lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un (to God we and all our affairs belong, and to God we shall return).

So that was the first two days.

Coming up: Day 3, in which doors meet their match, sorta.

*Mistake the first: don’t use synthetic mineral spirits with full flavor stripper or paint… it will only turn into a jelly-like substance that becomes very difficult to remove.

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