I’ve been fighting a cold, which makes me feel grumpy and unmotivated. Last night after work I made some hot lemonade and decided to tackle something fun: sanding the cedar beams from the fireplace.
For some strange reason, Alicia didn’t want me to sand them in the house, so the first order of business was to lug them out to the shop. I moved all but the huge top beam. I’ll need help with that one. I leaned them against a shop cabinet that I still haven’t set up (after ten months of living here).
I bought this cheap belt sander on clearance at Target ten years ago. It’s their store brand, and has never been very good, but it got me through several important projects back in Dallas.
The main problem is all my belts are also ten years old. They snap as soon as you try to use them.
I tried the handyman’s secret weapon, but it didn’t help. It lasted about two times around the pulleys and then came apart. I went through four belts without getting any sanding done.
So I went searching through my boxes and bins, and found my plane. I bought it in Costa Rica in 1992. Tramontina is a good Brazilian brand.
The only problem is, I hadn’t used it in years. The blade had developed a little rust. I decided to try it anyway.
It worked all right, at least to begin with. Did you know that cedar’s natural color is white?
You can really see the sawmill blade’s tracks as you knock off the top of the roughness.
The plane eventually ran into some wood it couldn’t handle and got dull. While I was looking for a whetstone, I found my dad’s belt sander, which I inherited when he died. This is the real deal! Better brand name, wider belt. Most importantly, newer belt! (Although it’s probably at least five years old.)
It turned out to be very effective on that rough wood the plane couldn’t handle. Here you can see the huge difference between rough stained cedar and freshly sanded cedar.
I sharpened the plane blade with a discarded sander belt. Between the plane and Dad’s sander, I got through one upright and the mantelpiece before Alicia got home. I had a wonderful time and didn’t think about my cold symptoms at all. (Maybe sawdust is good for the sinuses.)
Signs of a happy carpenter: sawdust-covered clothes and a cold beer.