Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Finishing Continues

When last we met, I had finished dying the entire cabinet with brown mahogany TransTint dye diluted 1 oz to 1 quart of distilled water. I'm happy to say that I've been able to make some progress since then and as of this moment, the project is a lot closer to being finished than it was for that last post.

To review, this is the finishing schedule I'm following:

  1. Dye the wood with brown mahogany TransTint dye
  2. Apply one coat of Waterlox Original Sealer & Finish
  3. Sand with 320 grit paper
  4. Glaze / tone with Walnut Bartley's Gel Stain
  5. Apply 4 wiped-on coats of Waterlox Satin Finish

I performed all of these steps on some sample pieces. When I got to 4 coats of finish on the samples, the sheen just looked wrong. There wasn't enough of a build-up of finish and the wood really didn't look like the pieces I'm trying to match. Frankly, the finish looked too much like wood that had been dyed & glazed but not really finished. There was a tiny bit of buildup in one area of a test board & I knew that was what I wanted the rest of the board to look like.

So I applied another coat of the finish and everything was much better, but not perfect. This tells me that I'm probably going to need about 6 or so coats of finish on the actual cabinet. The total effect, at this point, was good, though the dining room furniture has more of a gloss sheen than this will have, but that's OK.

So I got started applying the Waterlox Original to everything. This took a couple hours, as I had to cover a fair bit of surface area. I have two doors two doors and four shelves to finish, and, using the Painter's Pyramids I got for Christmas, I could only do the two doors, wait for the Waterlox to dry to the touch, then do three of the shelves and wait for them to dry and then do the last shelf.

After the Waterlox was finished drying on everything, I went ahead & sanded it. I didn't have 320 grit paper, but I used 400 grit. The pictures below show how everything looked after these two steps were done.

Here are the two carcases, the upper on the left & the lower on the right. Those are the shelves piled up on top of the lower carcase.

These looked great, but the color is still wrong at this point. It's much too light & yellow. It needs to be a darker brown. The following glazing step will give the wood the color that I'm looking for.

And here are the doors, the upper door on the left & the lower door on the right.

So the next step is to glaze everything with walnut gel stain. When I worked on the samples, I had three sample boards with two of them split in half so I could try different combinations of things. I effectively had 5 different samples to work with.

The first thing I found was that the wood color turned out about the same no matter how long or how much dye I put on the wood. That's why I got the dying done sooner that I thought I'd get to it. Since I only had to apply one coat of Waterlox Original, that really wasn't going to make much difference in the final color. The whole point of applying the Waterlox was to seal in the color of the dye.

So when I got to the glazing step, I tried putting it on & wiping it off immediately on one sample, and I would let the others stand for 5, 10, 15, & 20 minutes. What I found was that the grain of the wood had more to do with the final color than how long I left the stain on. I decided to try waiting 5 minutes between wiping the stain on & wiping it off when I did it for real.

I started glazing the interior first. And I discovered an interesting thing: the plywood's face consisted of a number of veneer strips laid side by side. Even though the grain of these veneers looked strikingly similar bare & after dying, the final color after glazing varied significantly. And I don't know why. One lighter colored strip was bordered by two darker strips that looked to be the same color. It'll be OK when done, as it will be darker inside the cabinet when it's in place & I was using a 500 watt light so I could see what I was doing. But the color difference amazed me.

The exterior surfaces all came out about as expected, and now the color is strikingly similar to the dining room set. I've got the effect I wanted, so far. Here are some pictures of everything after the glazing step was finished.

The lower carcase is on the left & the upper carcase is on the right. And the shelves are stacked on top of the upper carcase. I haven't gotten any glazing done on the shelves yet. With today being Mother's Day, I didn't get any time to do anything today, so I should be able to knock them out after work tomorrow night. But I am very happy with the carcases so far.

The two doors are in the next pictures, with the upper door on the left & the lower door on the right. They look a lot darker in these pictures than the carcases do, but the lighting is different. Everything should look the same when it's all together.

That brings everything up to date. As I said, I can finish the glazing step on the shelves tomorrow night, and then I'll be able to get started applying the finish. I'm considering trying a couple of coats of poly on a sample, but we'll see.


neil said...

Hi Tony..........getting closer and's it match up with the existing cupboard???

You took care of the veneer door issue very nicely.

Pretty impressive Tony!!!!

Couple more weeks and we'll see it in the spot it was built for.. can't waite.


Tony V said...


It matches up to the existing cupboard pretty well. At least the sample did. The piece itself looks a little darker in the garage but it just might be because the other piece isn't next to the new one.

I'm having a big family barbecue this weekend, so it's going into the corner by the end of the week. Right now, it's just hanging out in the garage & outgasing. Kinda like me on a bad day. ;)


Anonymous said...

Beautiful job Tony...and may I add, a great site. Being an avid wood worker and wood carver, it's always great to find a site on woodworking worth bookmarking for reference. Great job. Looking forward to seeing the finished piece.

Tony V said...


Thank you very much! Between work, kids, wife, church, & trying to actually get things done in the shop, I don't have much time for the blog. But it's good to know that there are people who appreciate your efforts.