The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Jumping the Gun

I know I’m getting ahead of myself. I haven’t given you the thrilling run down of what you should and shouldn’t do while sanding a wood floor, but I am so damn excited that I can’t contain myself. Despite the fact that my son was sick Friday & Saturday and my wife had to work, we finally stained the master bathroom floor. It only took us three and a half years to get to this level of semi-completion. Amazing, I know.

Finished surfaces bring out my inner anal-retentive, type-A personality. While vacuuming the floor in preparation for the staining, I notice faint whorl markings in a few places on the floor. I believe these are from the edger. I’m not sure if I missed these spots with the finer grit papers or if it was something else I did or didn’t do. In any case, there were all these little lines cutting across the grain of my floors. This was unacceptable. I did what anyone else would do. I got out a wad of sandpaper and our new sander. With a combination of hand sanding and the power sander, I start working on the floor. After a while, my wife came in and caught me on digital-film.

Wife: “What are you doing? Are you done vacuuming yet?”

Me: “No. I’m trying to get these marks out.”

Wife: “What marks?”

Me (pointing): “These.”

Wife: “I don’t see anything.”

Me: “You don’t?”

Wife: “Nope. I have bad eyesight though. I believe you, but I just don’t see it. Let me know when you’re ready to stain the floor. I’ll come and help.”

A while later Rhea and a couple of her friends stopped by to see the house. I was still sanding.

Me: “Rhea, you have good eye sight. Come here and look at the floor. Do you see these swirls?”

Rhea (looking confused): “Swirls?” She leans closer, “I don’t see anything.”

Me: “Oh.”

Rhea and her friends enjoyed looking at the Queen. Apparently, we’ve crossed some mystical boundary. Instead of running in terror or cowering in fear, people are finally beginning to respond positively to the Queen. We actually hear comments like, “she’s beautiful, I can’t wait to see her when she’s done.”

Finally, I was satisfied with my sanding job. Well, sort of. There were still a couple of spots (behind the tub) I would have liked to sand until the November elections, but I decided it was time to move ahead. I don't figure that anyone besides me will crawl over the clawfoot tub, wedge their head between the wall and tub, and press their face to the floor to check the wood grain, so everything should be fine.

I methodically vacuumed the floor with the shop-vac. One tip regarding shop-vacs: if you buy the cool filters to keep the exhaust vent from blowing the fine dust out the backside, be sure to empty the dust-bin before you start. The filter doesn’t help if there is already crap in the dust-bin. After the vacuuming, we went over the floor with tack cloths several times, and then we were ready to breakout the stain.

I’d love to tell you what stain we used, but I can’t remember. We bought it ages ago, and all I remember is it’s something-pecan. Maybe. In any case, I like the color. My wife and I quickly covered the floor (brushing with the grain) using two, two-inch chip brushes (cheap, throwaway painting brushes). We waited about five minutes and then marched back in to rub the excess off (also with the grain) using some cotton rags. The funny part was there really wasn’t much excess. The wood floor is at least sixty years old, so it was real thirsty.

And, here is the finished product.

After work tonight, I’m heading back to put on the first coat of polyurethane. If we stay on schedule, we should have three coats on it by Friday.

And, if you're wondering how we kept our big, nasty foot prints off the floor, we used shower caps.


Blogger amanda said...

It looks totally awesome! You sound like my husband, though, with the type A anal retentiveness. I'm of the- "It looks fine to me, can we please move on" vintage.

We've had a lot of problems with the shopvac blowing dust everywhere even when we use the filters also... so do you have to empty it and completely clean it out, then put on a new filter and start, or can you just empty it normally? Every time that I use the shop vac, I just make the whole situation worse and blow fine dust all over the house. It's actually better, dust-wise, if I sweep. Any additional tips would be appreciated.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

The floor looks great! I had the same swirls with the edge sander and went over it again with a palm sander just like you. Everyone warned me about the drum sander but it is the edge sander that you really need to be concerned about.

2:12 PM  
Anonymous mindy said...

Great results! You give me hope :) Our floors are next on the list. We'll have to watch it with the edge sander. At least we have two palm sanders, so we can split the knee-breaking work.

I'm sure Teague will get anal with the swirls also. Maybe it's a guy thing? There are many things I'm anal about too, but mini house details like that are not one of them.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Yokel said...

The floor looks amazing John! More and more things are falling into place (well, not literally I hope, but ...). The Queen will be a thing of beauty.

As for the whorls Is the sander an orbital? I used one once and refuse to again because of the whorls. Of couse drum sanders cost a lot more so I usually end up using elbow grease for the last round of sanding. Bleh.


12:42 AM  
Blogger Lenise said...

Gorgeous floor! Great work!!

7:48 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Wow! I love it!

2:23 PM  
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