Sunday, August 4, 2013

Beam Me Up!

The Frau and I are helping some good friends out with a massive renovation project they have. They have an older house here in Munich that was built in the 1930s. It has been a while since the last renovation, so they thought it was time to have contractors come over and redo all of the bathrooms.

The contractors did a nice job on the bathrooms, but now it is clear there should be some sprucing up of the rest of the house, too.

While they and their four kids left town for a two week vacation, we talked them into giving us the key to their house so we could have our way with their upstairs.

The upstairs is a former self-sufficient apartment that they basically only use for storage now. The plan is to make the upstairs a nice mom & dad only zone with the new bathroom, a new bedroom, and a walk-in closet that was formerly a kitchen.

Unfortunately, I didn't get before pictures, but the kitchen had a built-in cabinet in the corner that needed to come out. When I pulled the cabinet down (they don't build built in cabinets like THAT anymore!) a structural beam going from floor to ceiling was exposed.

After inquiring, our friends let us know they wanted the wooden beam featured in the room, rather than painting it or covering it up with sheetrock.


It was a mess, though. It was covered in plaster spatter from when the walls were originally done, and it was very rough.

The Frau spent a few hours yesterday cleaning it off, and this is what it looked like when I got there after work today:

Now what?

After consulting around the internet, I decided the best way to proceed was with scrapers.

After four or five swipes with a card scraper, I realized this wasn't fine cabinet work. This beam needs to be smooth enough that it will invite people to touch it, but it will not get a French polish.

So, I went snooping around my friend's work room until I found a random orbital sander. Actually, this tool used to be mine. I gave it to him when I decided I probably wouldn't use it anymore.

How handy!

It only took about 20 minutes to sand the whole beam down to 80 grit, which turned out to be fine enough for this project. I spent a little more time sanding out the chatter marks from the knots, and I was done.

To finish it, I decided to take a note from my tool building and use boiled linseed oil.

Don't tell them I used their good pot to heat up the finish!

I used a trick I learned finishing a dining table of heating up the BLO in a double boiler before applying it. This 80 year old pine beam was super dry, and sucked the oil in like crazy. Using hot oil allowed it to suck even more. Hopefully it will only take one or two more coats to finish.

Speaking of finish, here is the after shot (at least prior to us painting the room):

I really like the way the BLO looks on the steel support.
I tried to leave the layout lines from when the original Zimmerman cut the mortise.

A couple more coats of BLO over the next few days and it will be done! Unless I decide to put some wax or something over it. Easy peasy!

Next, I am making a shelf for the new bathroom.

1 comment:

  1. That is looking really good. I like exposed beams because they look so solid and enduring.

    Good luck with the new shelf.