Sunday, August 22, 2010

R3 archives: Undoing the dings of life

So. We're standing around in the master bedroom, beaming at the cherry renovation that is just about complete. My buddy Dean Rutherford, his clients and me. It's late afternoon, the sun is golden, the woodwork glows and love is in the air. Just about then one of Dean's crew, some sweet Hispanic kid, enters carrying something long and metal. He threads his way through the room carefully but pivots a half-second too soon and the trailing end of the metal thing whacks the flawless face of a $300 fir door. The smiles on four faces seize up and, one suspects, four people are about to pinch a deuce. Make that five. The kid looks he's swallowed his paycheck.

But Dean, who once aspired to be a priest and worked in the barrios of Chile, is nothing if not compassionate. And calm. "Oh," he says, regarding the 1/4-in. deep gash in the door. "I can fix that. Got a steam iron?" I am skeptical and the clients are very quiet. But he does it. He holds a slightly damp cloth over the ding, and applies a steam iron to the cloth till the wood swells slightly. He takes his time and checks his progress periodically. It takes maybe five minutes. Once the heated wood has filled in the gouge he allows the wood to cool, then lightly sands the raised area till it's level. The door had been finished, so later on Dean uses a small artist's brush to apply the same finish--thinned slightly--to the damaged area. May all the dings in your life iron out as nicely.

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