I’ve discovered a new favorite DIY addiction

And no, it’s not Pinterest. Or That Show on HGTV that you like.

I’m tired of stripping paint. I’m tired of repairing plaster. I’m really @#@#$%&# tired of scraping wallpaper, to put it mildly. I’m tired of taping and mudding drywall. I’m tired of sealing grout. So I found something new that I love to do around the house: Finishing wood.

(You’ll notice I didn’t say “REfinishing. That’s because the RE means you’re sanding or stripping or otherwise wasting the precious hours of your life. FINISHING means you get to start right with the fun stuff.)

You might remember that last summer we replaced all of our interior doors. (Scroll halfway down.) We had some peeling lead paint on the old doors and rather than dealing with stripping them or even repainting them one by one, I opted to just replace all of them. I got super lucky and found 7 matching solid unfinished red oak doors at Georgia Builders’ Surplus a few blocks away in Petworth where Rex hooked me up at about $600 for the entire truckload of doors, besting the price for brand new crappy wood (pine probably) doors at Home Depot or the like by 20-30$ a door.

New door

I slaved through a couple of weekends measuring and measuring again and chopping them down to fit our irregular doorways that are often crooked from the house settling, and then chiseled and drilled and chiseled some more to add the locksets and hardware. They went up like they were, and that was how they stayed for the better part of a year.

Rimlock prep

No stain, no finish, no nothing. The bathroom door even started to accumulate a little dirty handprint in the same place where it got grabbed with wet hands on regular basis.

After not too long, we didn’t really notice too much that they were still naked anymore. While the basement was going on, it was pretty far down the list of priorities to finish them somehow. But with the basement finally finished — yes, I know, I owe pictures and a full reveal of the basement — I’ve finally got some time to turn to other projects.

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This weekend, I pulled down the closet door and the bathroom door — hello curtain for a bathroom door for three days! — and started the finishing process on Sunday afternoon.

Honestly, I can’t remember ever staining or refinishing much of anything in my life. I had to do some reading to refresh myself on the steps of the process, which are way more exacting than painting almost anything. But after a few hours Sunday, I had both doors sanded down smooth, cleaned and stained. The plan had long been to stain them a dark shade, and leave the trim white. I was skeptical about how this might look until we found pictures online of similar designs, and really liked how it looked. And the darker the better, so we went for a dark walnut color. Honestly, I wanted something almost ebony, but Rachel wanted them a bit lighter, so we ended up with Minwax Dark Walnut.

I left the stain to dry overnight, and then rushed home from work today and went out straight away to put the first coat of polyurethane on one side of each before dinner, so I could let that dry and get the first coat on the other side before bed.

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Here’s the two doors with one of the unfinished ones that still needs to be cut and hung to replace the lone upstairs door that I stripped and painted a few years ago now.

There’s something about working with bare wood and oil-based stain and poly like this that I just love. Watching the stain soak into the wood and bring out all the dramatic grain patterns in the oak and then wiping it all off and blending the sections was so addictive. Enjoyed the hell out of it.

And watching the sheen as the coats of poly started to build up was…

Uh, ok. So I’ll stop now.

Let’s just say that I enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to more. And hopefully by the time I finish all SEVEN doors, I won’t be tired of this as well.

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