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refinishing old schoolhouse floor

Our schoolhouse was built in 1886 and we think the floor is the original hardwood. It needs refinishing but we do not want to remove the character of the floor. You can see where the seats were screwed to the floor and where there was once a fire. The area by the door is badly worn and we have inflicted our own damage. How do we repair the door area, remove our 9 years worth of scratches but leave the character of the floor intact?
Thanks for any advice.

Re: refinishing old schoolhouse floor

What I would do is scrub the floor with a medium coarse steel wool and a mild cleaner. Then recoat with a compatible finish - given the age it's very likely you have shellac, so I would do 1 or 2 thin coats - it won't look new, but it will look refreshed.

For the damaged areas, you're likely to have to replace the boards - you can often recover enough boards from a closet to use - they won't match the 'character' but they will be the same style and species. Sometimes you get lucky (rarely) when you pull up the damaged boards in that you can just flip them over, but more often than not you'll find the back has grooves milled in them.

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