How many times have you looked for the easy way to do something only to have it get really complicated? I seem to have a real knack for this type of behavior. Before you start to think that I'm a slacker looking for the quickest way out of doing something, that's really not what I'm talking about.
I just have a habit of taking steps in a different direction to try and get a better result. Case in point, while I was recently doing some interior house painting, something I'd gladly take steps around to avoid, I was sanding some window frames. These window frames had 75 years' worth of paint and probably eight or more coats with some chips that went down through several of them. In the process of trying to feather out these chips, I started chipping away some of the paint, making the chip even bigger. Then I started thinking that this chipping away method was working alright, so if I continued I could get down to the original paint and there wouldn't be as many feather edges.
After about two hours of this, I was still working on one window, so I came to the conclusion that this might not have been the best approach. I quickly formulated a plan that would make it easier. If I just ripped off the old window frames and replaced them, I wouldn't have to feather out any old paint. I'm real good at tearing stuff apart, so this seemed like a no-brainer. After about 15 minutes I had all the old window frames lying on the floor. To help justify this to myself, I reasoned that I needed to replace the spring reels (that hold the windows open) in a couple of the windows, and to do it I would have messed up the paint on the frames anyway. Then I figured that if I was going to replace the frames, I might as well do the sills while I'm there, so off they came
I was now ready to make my windows look like new again and take a trip to the local hardware superstore, where I found out that you can't buy sills. So much for that plan. On to Plan B. I bought a redwood 2x4 and proceeded to make my own, which I'm happy to say turned out quite well. A few days later, and I had new window frames and sills in a couple of the rooms. My shortcut, easier way may not have saved me any time, but I think the finished results were worth it. I at least got out of a lot of sanding
In the middle of all this I had been talking with a friend who had just done some house painting of his own. Turns out we were both just about as sick. Both being car guys it was hard for us to just scuff off the paint and throw a new coat over it. We've both been involved with painting cars and know the importance of blocking out every imperfection. It's nearly impossible to switch gears and take on a new perspective when tackling a house project.
Merely spackling a hole and hitting it with some sandpaper doesn't register with us. We have to fill the hole and then block-sand it, prime it and block it again. The woodwork needs the same attention. Leaving a run in the paint is not acceptable. To most people, none of this makes any sense, as most of it will never be seen-but car guys are different.
The difference between suede and gloss is equally relevant in house painting, as I have found it much easier to roll on the flat wall paint than it is to have to work with the gloss that shows the brush marks and imperfections so much more. Hiding those chips and not-so-arrow-straight bodywork under a few coats of suede becomes the easier solution than finding them under the scrutiny of a high-gloss finish
Back in the days when I worked for my uncle in his body and paint shop, I would often find myself doing more work in the effort to save time. One of my responsibilities was to sand and mask the cars. Many times I reasoned that it would be easier to remove the trim than to mask it. Having the bumpers off would make painting the valance panels easier too, so they should come off. On and on it went until the glass was about the only thing I would have to mask off.
One of the aspects of my job here at Rod & Custom that I enjoy a lot is getting out and seeing this same kind of fanatical attention to detail that is incorporated into so many of the cars we feature every month. I don't think people outside the hobby can really appreciate the time and effort that goes into what many of you do, but rest assured we do here.