Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

I Tire Of This, Sport (And Explaining That This Happened Two Years Ago)

I’m gonna qualify for Medicaid by the time I finish writing about this, so let’s put a fork in it today, what do you say? Let’s fix the floor:

The bedroom is that rarest of things. It has natural light available from three directions. So we can afford to make the floor dark, to give it a quiet look and a visual weight. That, and there’s no way I’m ever going to drag the 200 pound rental drum sander up the stair to properly sand it before I finish it, and dark covers a multitude of sins. So we play it as it lays, as they say in golf, referring to hitting your ball from the spot you kicked it to when no one was looking.

Lacquer thinner and coarse steel wool will remove the mill stamps identifying the grade and species of wood and the occasional whoopsie my wife made with her warpaint. That’s it for preparation, but what the hell; the purpose of a pine plank floor is to look old and a little rough, so it’ll be kosher right from the get-go. Now for the miracle fluid.

Shellac. Magic stuff. It’s the residue left on a tree from the lac bug, gathered and dissolved in denatured alcohol. It sticks to anything. Anything sticks to it. Dries almost immediately. It dries in low temperatures. No matter how much you thin it, it still makes a coherent film. I root around in my stash of old fashioned but still state of the art liquid aniline dyes, and find Dark Walnut. Yeah baby. 100 drops per quart of shellac, two quarts of shellac will do it, and a big slug of alcohol. The alcohol goes in the shellac, not the shellacker. Never drink while you work. Never. Guys named “Lefty” or “Stumpy Joe” drink while they work.

By the time you reach the end of the plank, the end you started at is dry, so you’ve got to be brave. Stop to wipe your brow, and it’ll splotch. Give it a few minutes, and go back over it with clear low lustre water based polyurethane, and let that dry for an hour or so. And it’s done.

Alright, we finished about a third of the floor, and half the walls and trim on Saturday night. Sunday, we move the furniture onto the floor that’s finished and I begin… to think about the Patriots game. Must go faster!

It’s wide open spaces now, so it’s easier to work. There’s a lot of woodwork, but we’re not moving the furniture twice, so I do it all as we go, more or less. We’re ready to do the remainder of the floor by late afternoon. I shellac the floor, and hey, it’s 6-0 Bengals!

I admit it. I stopped and watched the last two quarters of the Pats game. Take that Cincy!

Back upstairs, and recoat the floor with the polyurethane, and sleep in the den a second night. Monday morning, we put the furniture back, with about half of it removed. Addition by subtraction. Here’s before and after in the front of the house:

Everybody has a built in paneled headboard with integral windows, don’t they?

And my wife’s favorite place now, least favorite place before:

I told you the red chair would work. I even threw in a sale-able piece of furniture, a Shamrock Table, because my wife is swell, and deserves it. That, and I had one.

Well, there you have it. I’ve got to wait for a hard frost to kill the mosquitoes, and then I can take the screens out and paint the window sashes. The closets need painting, and I’ll do it at the same time.

When’s the Patriots’ bye week?

8 Responses

  1. Of course the punch line should be that just two years later your wife hates it and wants to do it all over again…

  2. Hi Travis- A fleur de lis would look great on that. The “shamrock” is a handy shorthand for what is actually termed a “trefoil” shape. The Oak table is a sort of Gothic revival plan, and they re-used many of the geometric and stylized natural patterns like trefoils, diamonds, fleur de lis, quatrefoils, acanthus leaves, and so forth.

    No extra charge for that if you buy one. Because you’re swell.

  3. Travis:
    I have a set of four children’s chairs from Sippican and he put all the suits from a deck of cards on mine–club, spade, heart and diamond. They’re precious and the kids love ’em. One of a kind and already family heirlooms that are used every doggone day.

    You don’t ‘buy’ a Sippican original. You ‘invest’ in one.

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