Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Might Have Screwed Up

If you ever watch Antiques Roadshow, you know about some of the astronomical prices antique American furniture can bring if it is in original condition. That last part being very important, especially for 18th century furniture. An 1875 Philadelphia made Highboy Dresser, with all of the bells and whistles and with the makers label still attached can be worth in excess of $250,000 - if it still has the original finish and brasses. If you take that same dresser, strip the shellac off and refinish it, the value plunges to around $25,000. People who buy that sort of thing love the deep, rich patina and grunge that comes with 200+ years of use.

So if my foyer were an 18th century Philadelphia Highboy, I would have screwed up.

This rule does not apply to woodwork in The Petch House, though. I suppose if the place had not been a rental unit for 80 years, and had not had interesting things carved in to the woodwork, an argument could be made for just wiping everything down with a damp cloth and calling it a day. Sadly, the woodwork needs much, much, much, much, much, much, much more work than that. If I’m wrong, then in another 100 years, future owners will shake their heads and lament, “If only Greg had known that in another 40 years highly advanced aliens would come to Earth and give us the technology to restore this woodwork without resorting to caustic chemicals”.

What’s done is done. I’m in the home stretch. Today I did the door and casing above and the casing around the entryway to the dining room. Tomorrow I will need to do the jamb to the dining room and the front doors and casing. The front doors are tall and they are a pair of double doors. There is also a 3 light transom above them. I was able to do the door and casing above in 2 hours, start to finish.

I think I can do the front doors and casing in less than 4 hours. Both doors have a large piece of glass, so even though they are larger than the door above, there is less wood. It is the raised panels with the reed detail that really takes a lot of time. The casing goes fast.

If I finish that tomorrow I will be officially done with the shellac stripping. Whew! A quick check of the blog shows I started stripping the stairs on August 2nd. If I finish tomorrow that means it will have taken me 28 days to strip the stairs, all of the baseboard, and doors and door casing. Not bad. Four weeks to do all of that? I thought it was going to be closer to eight.

After this I will mark the walls for the picture rail and then paint. Woo! Hoo!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Insurance Talk

So, I have 4 different insurance companies insuring 2 cars, and house, and a rental unit. It is a pain. The problem has always been that I can't get one company to insure everything, When I bought the 03 VW GTI it was on a weekend, so I signed up with Geico on line. It was easy, but Geico is a pain to deal with. I pay the insurance every 6 months and I get the bill in the mail usually about 5 days before it is due. Five Days! I mean, how incompetent can a company be that they can't get out a biannual bill sooner that a week before it is due.

This is not an isolated instance with them. This time it was issued on the 19th, I got it on the 24th, and it is due on the first of September. Every time this has happened I say I'm going to drop them and this time I did. Allstate insures my home and they have all of the ads now saying how I can save money if I switch from Geico. Plus I get a discount on my homeowner's insurance if I also insure my car.

I called my agent and faxed her over the paper work from Geico. She called me back a few minutes later and said that even if I went with the bare legal limits on my car insurance, they still wouldn't come close to Geico. WTF! I didn't bother to ask her about the ads on TV. Even with the discount I would get on homeowner's insurance because I added my car, it still wasn't worth it. They were easily 40% higher than Geico.

I then called AAA (CSAA around here). They insure the 71 Ford pickup. I told them I wanted to insure 2 cars, home and rental property, but I wanted to make sure they insured post and pier foundation. For a while they said they definitely did not, but that story has been changing in the last few years, depending on who you talk to at CSAA. The guy I was talking to only handled car insurance, but told me the policy had changed about 2 years ago. Their auto insurance rates were very good. I increased my coverage on the 03 GTI and lowered my premium by about $175 a year compared to Geico. For my truck CSAA sends a bill every month and I can pay all of it or make 12 monthly payments.

He then transferred me over to homeowner's insurance. I got a young woman with a charming southern accent. Even though it is CSAA (California State Automobile Association) she was in Arizona. The conversation went like this.

Judy: Hello, this is Judy, how can I help you today?

Me: I want to see about insuring my home and a rental property. I currently have 2 cars with CSAA.

Judy: Ok, let's start with the home. Is your primary residence?

Me: Yes, but before we go any further, do you insure homes on a post and pier foundation.

Judy: Oh no, I'm sorry we don't.

Me: Are you sure? The people at my local office and the guy in auto insurance told me the policy has changed.

Judy: Well, let me find out. Hold on.

Me: {listening to hold music}

Judy: How far off the ground is your house?

Me: Umm, 2 feet, maybe

Judy: Oh, only 2 feet. Then that is no problem. I thought you meant it was like built in to the side of a mountain or something. You know, like on stilts.

Me: Nope, just 2 feet off the ground.

Judy: Ok, well let me get some information and then I can get you a quote.

Judy: How many square feet.

Me: About 3000, maybe a little more.

Judy: How old is the roof, plumbing, and electrical.

Me: Everything has been replaced in the last 10 years. It is all new, and brought up to modern code.

Judy: Great. And what year was it built.

Me: 1895

Judy: Oh, it must be beautiful. I love those old home.

Me: Well,I like it

Judy: Oh, hold on a minute. I need to check the manual.

Me: {Listening to hold music}

Judy: Well, because it was built before 1900 you would need to gut the home to the studs and put it on a cement foundation before we could insure it. Is that something you are willing to do.

Me: No, I really don't think so, but thank you anyway.

Judy: Ok, well thank you for call CSAA!


Tomorrow I call State Farm

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Like an Itch I Can't Scratch

That is what it is like sometimes when I'm in the middle of a project and I don't work on it. In this case though, I am well past the mid-point, so the desire to work on the project is even greater. There is an actual punch list and the end is in site. Besides, it's only pre-season football. Most of the guys playing after the half today won't be seen after August.

I really wanted to work on something other than shellac stripping, but really, there is nothing else. I need to get this out of the way before I move on to other things. I can't trim out the pocket door until after I paint. I can't paint until I finish the stripping. I can't install the antique, cast bronze mail slot until after I strip and re-finish the front door. I can't shellac or finish the stairs until I finish the shellac stripping. About the only thing I could do is mark the walls where the picture rail will go. This needs to be done before I paint, but that is like maybe an hours worth of work. As soon as it is done I would be staring at a pail of paint stripper, so what's the point.

What is left to strip is 3 doors, door casing around four doorways, the baseboards in the foyer and the baseboards in the stairwell. I decided to do the baseboards first because they are the easiest. I was curious how long it would take me to strip all of the baseboard, so I timed myself on the first run. It is 5.5 feet with one inside corner. I did it in 12 minutes.

This brings up an interesting point. Last week, after I blogged about my method of stripping shellac off wood, someone left a comment saying I was using the product incorrectly. He mentioned that he once knew the daughter of the man who invented methyl chloride and said both her and the instructions say I should brush it on, don't disturb it, and leave it on for 15 minutes. Of course, I stood by my assertion that my method was the correct way to do it regardless of what the instructions said, and here is proof.

The white specs are wood putty. I'll hit this with steel wool, oil, and shellac.

Start to finish I did this 5.5-foot run of baseboard in less time than the instructions indicate I should have left the product on. If I followed the instructions this would have taken me twice the time. The reason is, shellac is not a petroleum based or synthetic product. Shellac is 100% organic and is layered on in very thin layers. If this were 5 coats of paint or polyurethane then I would be doing this very differently. This is why I have said repeatedly that there is no one way to strip something off of something else. It all depends on what you are stripping, what you are stripping it off of, and what was the original finish.

In this case, the use of a methyl chloride based stripper to take shellac off wood is sort of like using a Indy race car to drive to the corner market. It is over-kill, but it works very, very fast. Yes, it is not as safe as other strippers, but when used correctly and with moderate precaution, it is safe to use. If I were using anything else I would still be weeks away from finishing the stairs, and the baseboards would be nothing more than a distant, far off project that was still waiting to happen. As it is, today I finished the baseboards in the foyer and I'm working on the stairs. With any luck, by next weekend I will only have the doors and door casing left to do, and then it will be on to painting.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Victorian Dingle Balls

So much for slacking on the couch. I was so close to finishing the stripping of the stairs I decided to just do it. There were 2 small boards that needed to have the shellac stripped off and then I needed to oil the wood. After that came parts replacement.

The methyl chloride based strippers work so well on shellac you are basically left with bare wood. Today I went over everything with #1 steel wool first. By this time, a week or more after the last of the majority of the stripping, any residue of the stripper is crunchy and comes off easily with steel wool. This is really only the occasional thin streak. After that I essentially wash the wood with boiled linseed oil and turpentine. I wipe down the wood with a rung out sponge and then quickly wipe it down with a paper towel.

Next came putting on what are really just the Victorian version of dingle balls. I still can't figure out why so many are missing. I had to pry one off to take it to the mill when I had the missing ones reproduced. They were each put on with 4, two and a half inch finish nails. It took effort to get it off without breaking it. My working theory is that they were all removed by the same person who had some sort of necrotic obsession with them. I was left with 3 originals.

Once on, the stairs look so much better.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mag What?

Oh, that’s right, “Mag Nasty”. Or maybe it should be “Mag Nasty No More”.

Tonight I popped open a can of Mag Nasty Begone and before you know it, it was just a nasty memory.

Here it is before I stripped the shellac

This is it after I stripped the shellac.

Not a good picture. The carving was actually more noticeable after the old shellac came off because there was shellac down in the grooves, which remained darker. Perhaps it was only more noticeable to me. It certainly wasn't less noticeable.

I sanded down the entire board. It is the light board just below the balusters on the second flight. The carving was about a 3rd of the way up. The structure made out of the fir 2X4s is scaffolding. As soon as I get these nasty carvings out of the way, that will come down for good. Anything else I can do with a ladder.

After I sanded I applied more oil and Mag Nasty is nasty no more.

I still need to do the other small one, but it is very faint. I did Mag Nasty with the random orbital sander. I’m going to need to make a sanding block for the other one to get in-between the fluted millwork. You can barely see the other carving in the center of the picture, just below Mag Nasty.

If this had not worked I was mentally preparing myself to replace the board. I am soooo glad I won't need to do that!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Home Tour Wannabe

In 2008 I won the Eureka Heritage Society's Residential Preservation award. This was mostly for the preservation of the outside, because the inside could have hardly been considered to be in any state of preservation. As is the tradition, the people who win the different preservation awards for the year are asked to be on the home tour for that year.

Home tours are popular in many cities. People with fabulous homes open there homes to strangers so they can show off all of the work they've done. At the time I won the award The Petch House still had a strong feculent quality to it. I was in the midst of the butler's pantry project and the place was in no condition to have people traipse through what was at that time little more than a construction zone. Really, the only rooms that would have been available for the tour would have been the kitchen, downstairs bath and mudroom.

The tour this year will be in about 6 weeks and I've been asked again to be on it. I think it would be a lot of fun. Who doesn't like showing off their home when they've put so much in to it? I've said that if I can get the foyer finished in time I will do it this year. If I finish the foyer, the only downstairs rooms not finished will be the 2 parlors. The upstairs would be off limits, but I could show off the foyer, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, mudroom, butler's pantry, and laundry room. All but two rooms.

That is, IF I can finish the foyer.

At this point in the project that is a very big “If”. I do have 6 weeks, but I would need to commit to the tour in two weeks. The project is stressful enough and I'm not sure I need the added weight of an official dead-line.

Here is what is left to do:

1) Finish stripping the shellac off the stairs.
2) Strip the shellac off the baseboards in the stairwell and foyer.
3) Strip the shellac off 3 doors and the casing around 4 doorways
4) Paint the walls in the foyer
5) Hang picture rail in the foyer
6) Trim out the pocket doors
7) Install the mill work I had made for the missing stair parts
8) Oil and shellac all of the woodwork – stairs, doors, baseboards, picture rail
9) Sand, oil, and shellac the stair treads and foyer floor
10) Install a carpet runner on the stairs and buy rugs for the foyer
11) Hang the light fixture in the foyer
12) Install the antique, cast bronze mail slot in the front door
13) Paint the outside of the front door
14) Buy and install a new old lockset for the front door.
15) Clean, clean, clean, clean, clean
16) I would also want to re-upohlster the chair seat of the desk chair in the kitchen

Just looking at that list that seems like I could maybe do that in 6 weeks if I really hustle. If it weren't for items 2 and 3 I would say it would be no problem finishing in 6 weeks. Is it worth it though, to rush and kill myself just for the home tour? There will be other home tours. If I were working on the parlors right now, I could rope them off like a crime scene and show off the rest of the house. That would be hard to do with the foyer unless I had everyone enter through the window off the porch.

So we'll see. I said I would give a thumbs up or down by August 29th. That is 2 weeks from today. Odds are it will be a thumbs down on the 29th.

As for the stairs, I have finished stripping the shellac. A gallon and a half of stripper, 3 pairs of gloves, 5 packages of steel wool and 18 rolls of paper towels later, the stairs are officially stripped. Whew! I do need to go over them again to get the little spots here and there where there is some gummy residue. I also need to deal with the carvings on the second flight. After that, I'm not sure what to do next. I should begin stripping the shellac off the baseboards, but I'm a little burned-out on shellac stripping right now.

Maybe I'll take next weekend off. Is there any football on?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tips For Strippers

Let’s face it, for strippers, tips are very important. The job is not pleasant, so good tips are really what makes the difference for strippers.

I gave some stripping tips last week, but I’ll go over them again here, plus add a few more. First off, there is no universal way to strip paint or shellac off wood, metal, or masonry. The tools I use differ depending on what I’m stripping off of what, and just as important is what was originally on what ever it is I am stripping.

Specifically here I’m talking about stripping old shellac off woodwork. For that I use a semi-paste methyl chloride stripper. The semi-paste variety is important because it will stick to vertical surfaces. I’m no chemist, but I read once that the power of methyl chloride is the small size of the molecules and the speed at which it evaporates. The methyl chloride molecules are smaller than paint and shellac molecules. When you apply it to the shellac the methyl chloride falls below the surface of the shellac and then as it evaporates it pushes the shellac off the surface of the wood.

While this is interesting, it is also important because you don’t want to let it dry on what ever it is you are trying to strip. Once it dries the shellac has now hardened back on to the wood. Also, because it evaporates quickly, you must be ready to wipe it off as soon as it has done it’s job. This is why before I start I tare every sheet off a roll of paper towels before I apply any stripper to the wood.

Use both stripper and paper towels liberally. Apply the stripper in generous amounts to a small area. About 1 square foot for flat surfaces and a quarter of that for detailed areas. Apply it with a brush and go over it again and again, keeping it wet until the shellac begins to move around under the brush. This usually only takes from 10 to 30 seconds.

When you see the shellac moving, quickly begin to take it off. For flat surfaces scrape it off with a small, flexible scraper. For detailed surfaces, wipe it off with paper towels. Use a lot of paper towels. There is nothing worse then getting the shellac off only to then put it back on because you are trying to make good use of a paper towel. Wipe once or twice with a single towel and then grab a new one.

This will take the majority of the shellac off and it goes quickly. Now go over the same area again with more stripper. This time use #2 steel wool to scrub small areas at a time and then quickly wipe it off. You should have steel wool in one had and a clean paper towel in the other. This gets better than 95% of the shellac off. The trick is to stop wiping before that last bit of shellac residue hardens again.

For me that is as good as I get it. Removing better than 95% of the shellac is enough that the wood looks good and still has some patina.

I used to use these rubber stripping gloves you find in the same isle as the strippers and finishes. Notice how the shellac clings to them. After a while it becomes very hard to work fast because you can’t grab a clean paper towel until you’ve gotten rid of the old one. The trouble is, the old one sticks to this mess on your gloves. Very frustrating.

I then found these Atlas vinyl gloves. I have used this pair of vinyl gloves twice as long as the rubber gloves in the previous picture and you’ll notice there is almost no residue on them. The down side is, the methyl chloride can get through the vinyl. Remember the small molecules? It is not really noticeable at first. It‘s not like my hands are dripping with methyl chloride inside the gloves. After about 2 hours though, my fingers start to tingle.

If you get methyl chloride stripper on bare skin it is very noticeable, very fast. It suddenly feels like a large ant is biting you. Using these gloves is not like that at all, but it is noticeable that something is getting through. I now where latex gloves like you find in a hospital under the vinyl gloves and I no longer have a problem.

Finally, and this really is the most important tip for would-be strippers. I don’t care what professional strippers tell you, do not do this job in a G-string and pasties. I found this tip on several professional stripper sites. Let me tell you, I tried it and it is not good. However, after seeing many of the woman who do wear this sort of attire while doing this job, the next time I will be hiring this work out.

The scaffolding is in place for the last part of the stairs. With any luck, I’ll finish up tomorrow.

This is the area above the first flight of stairs that I can’t get to unless I use the scaffolding. After this it is on to baseboard.

And all of this time I thought it was ebonized.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pièce de résistance

I think I'm maturing with age. You should all be very proud of me for not using the blog title, “I got wood today!”. Proud or not, I really did get wood today! Mad River Woodworks finished making the missing parts for the stairs so I zoomed out to Blue Lake on lunch today and picked up my booty. We'll call it a Blue Lake Booty Call.

Damn! It just dawned on me that I have missed several opportunities for sexually implied stripping metaphors over the past few weeks while I've been stripping shellack off stairs. Oh well, it's not too late. I think I'll strip as soon as I'm finished with this blog entry. By that, of course, I'm mean I will be taking my clothes off instead of stripping shellack off the stairs.

Aaaaanyway, back to the story of how I got wood....

I had the 2 lower newel post caps reproduced and 20 of the missing finials that go in the circular cut-outs on the balusters. The post caps where badly damaged and the finials were missing. People must have thought they were souvenirs, or something. Fortunately they did leave a few, so I knew what was supposed to be there.

I raced home after work with plans to oil them up and nail them in place, but there are issues. After applying oil to some of the pieces I found that the color does not quite match between new and old wood. Only the two post caps and 3 of the finials in the picture below have had oil applied.

The post caps are the worst. I will need to stain them. I have more of the exact wood that those were made from, so I can do some testing. The finials are actually a closer match, but they are still a little dark. I was planning on applying another lite coat of oil after I'm finished stripping the shellac and I think the color will even out then. You can see that I applied a light coat of oil to the lower, right-hand circular cut-out and it looks better.

Next up, more of the strip show.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

It was love at first sight

And as we all know, love is blind. You can read the story of my first impression of the house here, but basically it was a dump that had a lot going for it. I had been looking for a house to buy for more than 6 months and it was really demoralizing. I wanted an old Craftsman or Victorian and it must have at least some of the original charm left to it.

I wasn’t concerned with heating, plumbing, or electrical. I specifically didn’t want remolded kitchens and baths. I wanted a house that had nothing structurally wrong with it and had a good amount of the original elements left to it. I also didn’t want to pay a lot of money. Naturally, my choices were limited. For months I had looked at one crappy gut-remodel after another and it looked like I would never find “my house”.

When the realtor and I first went to The Petch House I saw the asbestos siding and thought, “Here’s another one”. When we walked inside I saw the front stairs and knew this was the one. I turned to my realtor and said, “Let’s see the upstairs first”. I got more excited as I climbed each step. When we got the to top I turned to my realtor and silently mouthed, “I want it”.

The rest is history, of course. Now 8 or 9 years and an insane amount of work later I’m still far from finished. I just have to ask myself all the time now, “What the hell was I thinking”. Then of course, there are weeks like this one when it does all seem worth it.

I’ve walked up and down those stairs and back and forth in front of them thousands of times over the last 8 or 9 years and I’ve always admired them. Even with the missing pieces and swastikas carved in to them, I just love them. They are just so unique and interesting. To me they are the epitome of middle class Victorian architecture. Little did I know how nice they could be.

The stairs have been coming to life as I strip off the old finish. The room seems brighter now. The stairs have a glow to them and they seem lighter and more elegant. By comparison, the parts that still have the old finish now look to me like they are covered in chocolate frosting. It is like I am seeing the stairs for the first time.

What I have left to do is both sides of the shortest run of baluster and one side of the longest run. The one side of the longest run has the carvings in it, so I’m not sure how long that will take. I also need to put the scaffolding back in place to do that section, so I will save that for last. Even so, I think I can finish the stairs next week. I’m hoping to get the replacement parts from the mill before then.

Be still my heart

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Compare & Contrast

Work on the stairs is moving at a faster pace than I anticipated. I only worked two nights during the week. Not as much as I wanted to, but it is better than nothing at all. I’m finding that the newel posts take longer than expected. There is a lot of flat wood, so I would expect that that would go faster than the baluster, but I think the flat surface only made it easier to apply the shellac. The shellac seems to have been applied more generously on the newel posts than on other parts of the stairs.

The hand rails were also more time consuming than I thought they would be. They have a lot of detail to them, so there are many surfaces to get to. Also, it seems that decades of hands rubbing up and down them has added an extra thick layer of grime. So really, it is looking like the intricate balusters are the least time consuming. Who would have thought.

A little Before & After eye candy

I would say I’m about 30% through the stairs. What I’m realizing though, is that I’m going to need to strip all of the woodwork in the foyer. Otherwise, the stairs will stick out like a beautifully refinished thumb. That means there is the double front doors, the door under the stairs, casing around those doors plus the entrance to the dining room, and all of the base board.

It’s going to take a while.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Stair Progress Report

Yes, there is actual progress to report on the stairs. Shocking, I know. When I should have been slouched on the couching watching a rerun of Friends, I was instead stripping shellac and grunge off the intricate balusters of the front stairs. My goal was to try and spend an hour a night on them every night this week, but goals often go unmet around this house these days. Because of all of this, I am right now typing with one hand while I pat myself on my back with the other.

Late yesterday I tried to work on one of the newel post with denatured alcohol. While denatured alcohol will strip shellac off of shellacked woodwork, it is the hardest and slowest method there is. For flat surfaces I will use a heat-gun first and then maybe go at it with the alcohol and steel-wool. Unfortunately, there is nothing flat about these stairs at all.

For this project I turned to my old friend methyl chloride. It’s been a while old friend and if I wasn’t forced to wear a respirator while working with you I would say that it is good to smell you once again. Methyl chloride is the active ingredient in the most caustic of paint and varnish strippers. I prefer Jasco Professional Semi-paste, but there are others. The “semi-paste” distinction is importing because it means it will stick to vertical surfaces. Think snot and sulfuric acid mixed together.

This stuff works so fast on shellac I can only work on very small sections at a time because as soon as you put it on it is ready to take off, and if you leave it on more than 10 or 15 seconds it starts to dry out. If it does dry out, no problem, just apply more and wipe.

I didn’t get a before shot, so this is more of a comparison between a section that has been stripped and one that hasn’t. The flash of the camera lessens the contrast. To me, in real life, it is dramatic. The wood is really coming to life.

This is one that has not been stripped. It is also missing the center finial.

Here is one after stripping, and it has one of the last remaining finials.

I did the top 4 plus the stringer in about 45 minutes. I still need to strip the banister.

My method is to tare off every sheet on an entire roll of paper towels before I even begin. As I said, it works fast and my gloves get messy, so the last thing I want to do is waste time reaching for a roll of towels and then have to rip one off.

I have a 1 quart plastic bucket with less than a half a cup of the stripper in it. It evaporates quickly, so have as little exposed to the air as possible. I use one of those really inexpensive chip brushes that you can get for a dollar or less at the hardware store.

I apply the stripper to one element of the baluster section at a time. That is, one of the reeded posts or one turned columns at a time. I then scrub briefly with steel-wool and immediately wipe everything off. If it feels sticky in the least when I am wiping that means I waited too long and too much of the stripper has evaporated. At that point I apply more stripper and just wipe off without scrubbing again with the steel-wool.

I’m feeling a lot better about this project now.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Done and done

The plastering is officially done! I never thought I'd write that, but yesterday I put a coat of primer on and I've moved on to the stairs.

The stairs.

The stairs have the potential to be a lot of work. It all depends on how far I want to go. I will be stripping off the shellac and re-shellacking. That will be a lot of work, but that is not really the issue. I've found that if I only strip off the top layer and then reapply the shellac, I don't have issues with differences in the finish. In other words, If I take everything back to a uniform point and then bring it back up, there won't be differences in the color.

In this case though, there are places where I need take it back to bare wood, and of course some pieces are being reproduced. The original wood with the 100 year old patina will look different than new wood, unless I revert to stains, which I'm hoping to avoid.

Today I started with a good cleaning of the stairs. Really getting in to the nooks and crannies with warm soapy water. Boy, are there a lot of nooks and crannies in these stairs. Below are some shots of some of the trouble spots that I need to deal with.

Another reason to hate Nazis. This is actually minor. I never even noticed this until I was cleaning today. It is really just in the shellac.

Typical of a banister. This will need to be sanded to bare wood.

Grunge, splotches, and alligatoring. Just strip and re-apply and it should be fine.

“Mag Nasty” Is that from Shakespeare? The worst of the worst. This is on the stringer trim on the second run of stairs. This will need to be sanded out which means the whole piece of wood needs to go back to bare wood.

“LH+JM 4-ever” Forever rotting in hell, I hope. This is just below Mag Nasty. Fortunately this trend of carving in to the stairs ended here. Regardless, the damage is done. Basically, this whole run needs to be sanded down.

Typical of a newel post. It actually looks better in this picture than it does in real life. Still, it is all superficial. Most of those marks will disappear once I strip and reapply the shellac.

It looks like a dog chain or something rubbed against here. This could go either way. It may mostly disappear with a fresh coat of shellac. This is also a good shot of the over-all dingyness of a lot of the finish. You can see the gray tone to the wood above the scratches and below the baluster. This will really come to life with new shellac.

Once the stairs are out of the way the only real big issue with the woodwork in the foyer is the double-front doors. They have their own issues, which I'll save for another post.