Every child wants to go to Disneyland right? Well as a child my Disneyland was away from Disneyland although in actuality it wasn’t very far away at all if you lived in Pasadena, CA as I did. I grew up with sawdust in my veins as a child because three of my uncles were hardwood flooring contractors who were taught by their father, my grandfather. At 9 years old, myself and five of my cousins the same age or no more than 11 years would go to work with our father’s and uncles during summer and learn about wood floors.
I remember watching my uncles, my grandfather had ten children and I’m the son of one of his six daughters talking with home owners about their floors in those Hugh So. Pasadena mansions. I remember watching them use those powerful sanding machines on the floors, or sawing wood and other various drills and hand tools. I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could use those powerful tools too. What I and my cousins learned to do was use a hand scraper and sandpaper as well as retrieve those hand tools as needed which were requested by uncles and fathers etc.
The scraper they said was the most important tool to learn because it was hand done and required absolute attention to detail. Below is a photo of old style scrapers I used as a child but their haven’t changed much today. The Hugh drum machines could do the field of the floor and an edger sanding machine did, well, the edges or perimeter of the floors. But no machine could get into the corners or door frames and homes have lots of corners and door frames so scrapers where used to remove old stain and wax or varnish or level the new wood to the match what the power drum and edger machines had done. There is a trade secret that accompanies this as well as a few others.
There are other machines used like the buffer which smoothes out drum and edger sanding marks that they used to have us sit on to give the buffer more cutting power from the added weight. Still all these machines could not get into corners of wood floors and so the scraper was the most important tool to get the floor complete and ready for stain for finish. I made $.75 a day on the job and could buy all the candy and soda I wanted, but I usually saved half because my mom made me. We also got to go to Disneyland at least once during the summer and just imagine kids hanging out with their parents and uncles who were professionals that taught us these skills, it was the best of times because learning and working with them was the same as going to Disneyland!
Oh, I forgot to mention that all of us kids (3r generation) became licensed contractors and eventually taught our kids or nephews which total eleven separately owned companies and welcome the 4th generation of hardwood flooring contractors in California.
And the 89 year old secrets to making floors stellar is still a family secret after all these years!