We left off with our foyer stairs mid project – with the treads and risers (plus temporary safety rails) installed. Now, we need to finish the stairs… as in complete a final sanding and fill with a home-made, custom wood filler. (Later we will pick a stain and finish).
Here’s where we were:
We tried our best to unscrew the newel post fasteners, but some weren’t budging. Very carefully Spencer had to cut and snap off a few of the temporary 4×4 newel posts (not pressure treated, by the way) with the reciprocating saw.
Before we installed our wood floors and our stairs, we knew that wood fades when exposed to sunlight… and our foyer is basically one giant wall of non UV protected glass. The “shadow” (protected area form the newel post) in the following image shows the difference in walnut wood color after roughly nine months of unprotected ultra violet light exposure. This wasn’t a huge concern, because we still needed to give the wood a final finish sanding – the coloration would disappear after that point. For the near future, we do have plans to replace the foyer glass with UV protected/safety glass so we will have less bleaching.
This one didn’t put up a fight:
Onto the main point – sanding!
We love our Bosch random orbit sander (and the sand paper the company makes) but the vacuum attachment doesn’t fit our shop vac. We had a heck of a time finding an “adaptor” (that step/graduated looking plastic piece) and even then, the two ends just butted up against each other. It was a not-so-perfect solution, but we ended up ducttaping the whole thing together.
Always wear a respirator when dealing with walnut:
Attaching the vacuum was so nice – I felt silly that we hadn’t done this for projects in the past.
For the nooks that the random orbit sander couldn’t reach – like up against where the risers/treads met – we used the pneumatic ridgid multi-tool with the sander attachment. (Pneumatic tools are less expensive and we already owned an air compressor for installing the hardwood floors… plus we bought this on a crazy deal/sale).
We still gotta go with the Bosch sand paper though:
Feeling for rough spots:
After everything was sanded, we still had gaps in the boards where our cuts weren’t perfect. (We were using a harbor freight saw that had already been through a bunch of walnut flooring – it gave a far from accurate cut by this point).
Probably the most imperfect area:
Some places weren’t that bad, considering Spencer assembled everything in place and had to run back and forth to the saw for every piece.
In order to fill the gaps, we needed to use wood filler. So I prepped the areas by protecting the surface with painters tape.
We made our own custom wood filler out of the walnut sawdust that we had collected. We did this because we wanted the filled areas to match the rest of the boards. A simple wood filler recipe is just fine sawdust plus wood glue.
We made our sawdust even finer by running it through the food processor (which we cleaned thoroughly afterwards).
The before and after sawdust:
Next up: wood glue!
Adding the wood glue:
Adding the wood filler to the gaps is pretty straight forward – just smear it in there.
Peel off the painter’s tape while the wood filler is still wet.
Our custom wood filler was a pretty good color match. It was still a little course, but it worked!
Next, choosing a stain and finishing the stairs!
In case you missed the other parts of this project – here they are:
Part 1: Foyer Stairs Demo
Part 2: Prepping the stairs
Part 3: Installing newel posts & drywall
Part 4: Installing hardwood treads & risers on our foyer stairs
Part 5: Installing Hardwood on the platform & temporary railings
Part 6: Sanding & diy wood filler
Part 7: Choosing a stain & finishing