Coat number something-or-other
Supposedly, childbirth is something like this, on a grander and more primal level: you hate every single moment of the process but, the moment it's over, you forget the pain and oooh and aaah over the end result.
Bonus point #1 to childbirth: the end result provides you with one Eternally Good Guilt Trip card for the rest of your existence.
Bonus point #1 to furniture finishing: people look at you funny if you kick off your shoes and prop your feet up on your kids when company comes over. Bonus point #2: unless your table sets amazing new records for furniture intelligence, your college tuition costs are pretty much guaranteed to be nil.
Bonus point #2 to childbirth: grandtables are rare, and according to rumor, not nearly so satisfying as grandchildren.
You'll have to excuse me; the fumes from the varnish appear to be getting to me. (I suppose it's a bit late now to see if constant Eau Of Varnish inhalation is a known cancer risk, considering that we've already proven it's detrimental to mental stability.)
The slow progression of unfinished wood to staining to varnishing has been littered with up to three application sessions per day (midmorning, midafternoon, and then right before bed). I have a sneaking suspicion that I've spent so much time out on the front porch, playing with potentially carcinogenic compounds, that my brain has fallen completely off the oxygen wagon and decided to sleep in the nearest empty varnish can.
It probably likes the fumes by now.
The plan's worked something like this: stain work could be done in the morning and afternoon, because stain has taken less time to dry on this wood than the varnish has. Due to the cold, humid weather, pieces have needed up to 8 hours to dry between stain coats and 12 hours between varnish coats; a piece varnished and set out to dry by eleven a.m. can generally receive another coat of varnish around midnight.
("What?" I said to myself the other day. "It's Friday? When the hell did that happen? I thought it was Tuesday….oh…wait… There's no way I could apply two coats of stain and three coats of varnish to seven bits of wood and it only be Tuesday.")
Attempting to accomplish all this on days where the high temperature did not even reach 40F/5C could be termed as "entertaining." See also Exhibit A, otherwise known as an email to Noah:
"The past couple of days it's been so cold that I've had to keep the varnish indoors or it would freeze…and apply the varnish with gloved hands. Too cold to hold metal with bare hands…
The scary thing is that once this table is done, and in use in the reading room, it'll probably take a week before I'll be frothing at the mouth again to work on more furniture for the room.
"It's a sickness, I tell you. Those fumes are dangerous. They have lots of warnings on the can, none of which say, "May cause more furniture purchases than originally intended. Use with caution."
After all, there's absolutely nothing better to do in December than to stand outside in a stinking sweater, your husband's jacket, and other assorted outerwear pulled from the "too dirty to wear outside the house but not too dirty to do woodwork in" laundry pile, just to carefully slop a molasses-like liquid onto a wooden surface in something resembling an even fashion.
At one a.m., mind you.
The neighbors must think I'm crazy.
The top of the table just received coat number something-or-other of varnish. I'll get up in the morning, check the results, and unless perfection is magically achieved during the course of the night, it'll receive one more coat tomorrow morning. By tomorrow night, the furniture will be dry enough to handle, and I'm hoping beyond hope that tomorrow morning's coat will be the last, so that we can assemble the table tomorrow night.
By now, after a week of practice, I fervently believe that a one a.m. varnish application in the middle of winter falls squarely into that category of life events marked "Do once, crow, move on, and don't be stupid enough to do it again."
That is, until I get those matching end tables to go with the coffee table…
There were no overnight miracles. The tabletop received another coat of varnish - which should, hopefully, be its last.
My spouse also pointed out that the frustration and near-desperation of this entry reminded him of the amusing-yet-terrifying entries for the period of days in December 2000 when I was stranded, by myself, in a hotel in the middle of an Arkansas ice storm. If you're new to this 'From The Hotel' series, use the 'next entry' link at the bottom of the entry I've linked to read the progression I made from boredom to tedium to something more akin to acute psychosis. (As with the case of the table, about two hours after it was over, I was restored to my normal state.)