One Hundred and Four Days
Finishing day is a lot like being in Wyoming in the morning, and deciding you've been on the road long enough. So you burn it to Los Angeles in one brutal run. (Ask me how I know this.)
I started this rock trip a hundred and five days ago.
But carving isn't travel, and there is no mileage marker, or exit sign on this road.
It just gets narrower, and narrower, and then runs out of pavement. You just keep grinding and scratching away until you find yourself working with finer and smaller tools.
Before you know it, the tools stay in the box, and it's finishing day. The last leg is a long, messy, marathon session of sanding, rubbing, and polishing.
Start with 80 grit coarse, to take out tool marks and small irregularities. Go over it again a few times with 150 grit, a little finer. Repeat through 220, 320, and 400. Then a rub down with #0000 grade steel wool.
Out comes the plastic tub. Now, it's wet sanding, several passes at 600, and then 1500, and finally 2,000 grit. Then go to a rag, and a sticky paste of water and tin oxide powder; then to a dry rag, and Simichrome polish, and, at long last, to carnuba wax.
By now, the surface area of this thing feels like it covers a square mile, and I've been over every square inch of it so many times that I can't tell one side from the other. By the end of the ten-hour session, Saturday, I was exhausted, and dizzy tired out.
Sunday morning was touch-up. How it is humanly possible to have missed a molecule of this thing, I do not know. That's not true. I know exactly how I missed all the little scratches. Working outside, even under the canopy, the stone was all glow-ey with sunlight. A lot of the work was done by touch. When the stone came indoors, in lower light, I saw all the places I missed; all the little scratches, and tool marks showed.
By noon it was done. I don't have any fingerprints left. They'll grow back. The stone is in the living room.
Oddly enough, this part of the project kind of sucks. I've been so close to this thing for so long that now I can't even see it. I'm sick to the eyeballs of looking at it.
I can't tell if it's good or bad, if I knocked it out of the park, or struck out. It all looks the same. It's like that creepy feeling you get when you hear your own voice on a recording, or when you repeat a word so many times that it just becomes a sound.. That's my voice? eew... This is the thing I've been making? It's mediocre. Just one more of my stupid ideas. It's genius. Best thing ever. This thing will make me rich and famous. It's ugly. No, it's OK...
All part of the fun.