Saturday, March 31, 2012

My new least favorite chore

If I had to pick one thing about woodworking that I like the least, I usually say it is sanding. But - ever since I purchased the double whammy of Festool sanders, even sanding doesn't bother me too much any more. Cleaning up a piece of wood with their 5" Rotex sander isn't work - it's more like a zen moment in the shop. It's almost spiritual.

Nope - for me, my new least favorite chore is finishing. I've been all over the map recently with some of the projects I've been making - danish oil (as usual), sprayed lacquer, hand rubbed polyurethane, and even Sam Maloof's special recipe for wood. The thing is - I'm actually pretty good at it, but it is simply boring.

Case in point - a fellow wandered into my shop a while ago, with a warped door that he hoped I could repair. Someone had already tried to repair the door and it was is horrible shape - warped, with dried glue everywhere. Fix it?

Umm....I'm a woodworker, not a genie.

The door had a gorgeous hand carved raised panel in it, and luckily, making a new door frame wasn't difficult. But matching the stain is what I was worried about.

The existing panel had a good deal of distressing on it, so once the replacement door frame was assembled, I had an opportunity to take out a little aggression on the piece.

Distressing wood is one of the easier things you'll do in the woodshop. There really isn't a right or wrong way, and it's usually pretty fun, too.

A little more sanding and the door was ready to stain.

I knew that using this stain full strength would give me results that were too dark, so I set up a simple line blend test for thinning it down. It's similar to what you do it you're making ceramic glaze - you mix up a small batch and keep testing it until you get the desired effect.

I started with a small cup of mineral spirits, about two ounces, and added a teaspoon of the stain. Then, after applying a bit of that on a piece of wood, I added another teaspoon of the stain. After four different ratios, here's what I had.

The dark piece on the left is one of the original door components. That is what I was attempting to match.

And I think this batch of stain matched the best.

And here we go - a pretty decent stain match.

After the stain dried, I applied a couple of coats of a very thinned down polyurethane. I didn't want a great deal of finish on the wood, as the existing pieces had long since lost their sheen. I was aiming for just enough finish to add some protection, yet still match the existing cabinetry.

And even though I say I hate finishing, I have to admit - this was one of the easier stain matching experiences I've had.

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