Inching Along Finishly

In 2019, Kenny came by to strip off the old shellac in the round bedroom.


He was able to do two windows. And this is how things have remained.


To the left is the original faux bois finish. To the right is what it looks like after many layers of shellac have turned brown.


And now…ta-da!…I have now refinished the third window.


Currently, The Other Justin is repairing all the oak flooring on the second level. But, before it can be varnished, all the trim on the second floor needs to be refinished. The process uses denatured alcohol and, no matter how careful I am with taping, I just know some of it will seep under and damage the new floor finish. So, I have now started the long long long process of refinishing the trim. This project will, no doubt, prove to be the 2021 Endless Nightmare that the reshingling proved the past few years. Sigh.

The Other Justin and I have worked out a plan.

He is almost done with the second floor. Then he will infill an area on the first-floor where a basement stair was inserted in 1950 (and which I removed). Then…and I am beyond excited about this…he is going to lay down a new maple floor in the kitchen and servant’s hall as the original maple flooring is just too damaged to restore in the kitchen. There is no flooring in the servant’s hall.

Then Justin will depart.

Sometime later in the year, after all the trim is refinished on the second floor, he will return to sand stain varnish.

So, Ross needs to get VERY busy. And, how can I clone Kenny? I need a team of Kenny’s.




  1. Barb Sanford on February 28, 2021 at 11:12 am

    Hi, Ross! I’d love to step in and do some work on the Cross House, though I can’t promise I’ll be as good as Kenny. I can give you a day or two my next trips to Kansas. I’ll send you a text as soon as I have it scheduled, but it will be in mid-March.

  2. Dan Goodall-Williams on February 28, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Wish I was nearby, I’d help for sure. Maybe there are others near who can volunteer.

  3. Brendan Denehy on February 28, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    You might check the local high schools and see if they require community service hours. Working on a house like this might be a great project for someone interested in history or trades. They would learn some skills and the history of an interesting house.

  4. Derek Walvoord on February 28, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    I would be tempted to cheat and just do the bottom bits…

    • a Bell on February 28, 2021 at 8:22 pm

      Derek, I had same thought. Cheaters, we should be ashamed.

      • Derek Walvoord on March 1, 2021 at 9:25 am

        Or secretly delighted…

    • Ross on February 28, 2021 at 10:30 pm

      That won’t work, Derek.

      If denatured alcohol will almost certainly get past tape on the floor, it will get past tape a few feet above the floor.

      So…no cheating!

      • Derek Walvoord on March 1, 2021 at 9:24 am


  5. ken on February 28, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    Well this is my 31 first year of teaching and my last. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time ,than to come and help you complete this huge task and watch the trim of the Cross house shine again.

    • Ross on February 28, 2021 at 10:28 pm

      Oh, Ken, Ken.

      You tantalize so, sir!

  6. ArtistSusan on February 28, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    If I were closer to you then I would be so thrilled to help out. This feels like the sort of army I could be helpful with. I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment. I would also suggest that you do the bottom bits first. Wait! Hear me out! I’m not necessarily suggesting that you cheat, but if you do the bottom bits FIRST then you’ll have options in terms of scheduling. It’s always nice to have options.

  7. Leigh on March 1, 2021 at 12:44 am

    Hooray for Kenny (ken: happy 31st in teaching!) and Barb Sanford!

  8. Doug on March 1, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    After using 9 , 55 gallon barrels of paint stripper on my house—– you’re on your own. I’m done. Good luck.😁

  9. Tim on March 5, 2021 at 9:50 am

    Hi Ross,

    I used a natural penetrating oil on my white oak floors and loved it. Supposedly, you can drink the stuff.

    I will never use stain and polyurethane again which always ages and gets yellow and plasticky looking.

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