Thursday, January 19, 2012

Testing the Festool Vacuum

Yes, I've been MIA. If you knew half of the work I've been doing, you would understand.

One of the projects on my plate right now is working with saltillo tile, which can be tricky. Its rustic quality and warm colors make it an attractive flooring choice. But damn! It's a lot of work. There are stacks of it everywhere in my studio.

You usually purchase this tile unfinished, which means you can stain it to match just about anything. You can use regular woodworking stains - like a Minwax, thinning it out with mineral spirits if the color is too dark. I usually mix up a small amount, like a half cup of thinner to a teaspoon of stain. And then paint a small section of the raw tile. Then add another teaspoon and paint another sample area. I repeat this a couple of times, and then the next day, when the stain is dry, I'll compare it to what I need to match. Once you know the right ratio formula, you can do the math and mix up gallons of the correct hue.

Well... that is the theory.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. After staining it with what I thought was the perfect recipe, I felt like it looked a little too light, so I gave it a second coat.

Remember that line in Pretty Woman?

Big Mistake. HUGE.

There was only one solution - and it wasn't a pretty one. Sanding all the pieces.

But I'll tell you this - if you had any doubts about Festool vacuums, this should prove their worth.

After sanding down all 250 square feet of tile, with virtually no airborne dust, I needed to change the vacuum bag on this unit. When I pulled off the hose, there was a trace of terra cotta dust in the port.

I grabbed the box of vacuum bags.

They're ridiculously expensive (close to $40 for 5 bags!) but - what about Festool isn't expensive?

When I opened the vacuum to change the bag, there wasn't a speck of dust inside.

Even the air filters are pristine. They look like they're brand new, and I've been using this vacuum for two years.

I pulled out the bag, it was filled with clay dust

and remembered that Festool includes this cool little plug for the filler port. How smart.

After all the staining and subsequent sanding, I am a little burnt on finishing this project. And my hands are simply raw from working with the dry clay. At the Sin City Woodworkers meeting last night, I asked everyone what they use for hand care, because my hands are in a world of hurt. By mutual agreement, Bag Balm seems to be the hand lotion of choice.

Let's just say I wish I had a 5 gallon bucket of it right now, to soak my hands in! This clay dust is extremely harsh on your hands, and mine are rough as 80 grit sandpaper. Oh well, my days of hand modeling are long behind me, so I guess it really doesn't matter. I just want them to feel normal again!

And I want this tile work to be finished!

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