I am man; hear me sand

Since moving into our first house a couple of months ago, I’ve made a concerted effort to become manlier.

I’ve fixed a busted spring on a chair, sanded and re-hung a bathroom door so it no longer rubs when it closes, and I just recently planted a bunch of trees with the help of my dad.

I was on a good streak, and then I decided to refinish an entire end table.

I sanded, and sanded and sanded with the aid of a palm sander, and then I stained the table with a nice, dark stain.

It looked pretty good, for the most part, but there was one lighter section on the side of the table that I assumed I hadn’t sanded enough.

So I brought out the sander again and attacked that spot with gusto.

The quarter-sized spot turned into a half-dollar-sized mark and then into an area roughly the size of my fist.

Confused, I shut off the sander and studied the damage I had just inflicted on the table.

It dawned on me that I had sanded all the way through the wood grain.

In an attempt to fix one small imperfection, I had made that flaw far, far more noticeable.

I blame my type-A mindset on my mother. Sorry, mom, love ya, but when I was growing up, we lived in houses that, in my mind, were nearly aesthetically perfect.

Tables had few, if any, scratches on them, pillows on couches were tilted at just the right angle and the floors were so clean you’d swear they’d give off that cartoonish twinkle when you walked through the front door.

The house in which my wife and I now live isn’t quite that clean, but I still like things to look nice in there, so I knew that table wasn’t going inside until I was able to fix it somehow.

I came up with a list of possible solutions:

1. Swear a lot, hit the table with a hammer and then throw it into a dumpster.

2. Try cut a new piece of wood for the side of the table without slicing off multiple fingers in the process.

3. Find something to cover up the imperfection by going to a hardware store and asking for “wood furniture makeup.”

I settled on solution No. 3. I tried to find the right size wood veneer to cover the spot, but I would have had to buy an entire roll of the stuff, and unless I get into the furniture refinishing business, I’ll never use that much wood veneer.

My dad suggested buying some high-gloss black paint to cover the sides, front and back. I bought a $3 can of it, and then went home and painted the table.

I think it looks really nice like that — the black accents the wood stain — but there’s one spot on the back of one of the table legs about the size of a pin head where the black paint bled onto the stain. You can’t see it unless you turn the table around, but I know it’s there.

I thought of bringing out the sander again to touch up that spot, but I stopped myself.

It was a hard decision, but I learned from my previous mistake. Sometimes you have to just live with the small imperfections, so I’m doing just that.

Now if I can just figure out the angle my mom uses to tilt the pillows on the couches, I’ll be golden.

— Derrick Knutson is editor of the ECM Post Review

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