Posts Tagged Pine

Finally, a Finish!

This is Part 3 (but actually Post 4)  and the final post in the Roadside Redo Cabinet series.  Wanna see how it all began?  Click here.  Learn how I selected and applied the stain here.  Or read Post 2.5 about installing metal drawer slides here.

It has been several weeks now that I have been working on this Roadside Redo cabinet.  What is left to do?  Apply the finish, put the glass in the doors, hang the doors on hinges, and install drawer pulls and door knobs.  Four important things in one post.  I will try my best to keep it short and to the point.  First was applying the finish.

I chose an oil based polyurethane for two reasons: it is very easy to apply and after a few coats you are left with an extremely durable finish (oil polyurethane is more scratch, heat, and water-resistant than varnish).  Plus it isn’t known to “yellow” over time like traditional varnish.  Although you can use a soft cloth or bristle brush, I applied the poly with a medium foam brush.  This cabinet has a lot of vast surfaces and I felt a foam brush would give me a very even application.  Hand rubbing with a cloth gets tiring over large areas, and brushes tend to lose bristles or leave brushstrokes.  Now make sure the piece and your working area is free of dust.  I use a tack cloth on the furniture and spray down the floor where I will be walking with water and a spray bottle (this minimizes dust from the floor from floating up when walking around a workbench).

Now apply the finish.  I applied a thin, even coat to the entire piece, inside and out, as well as to both the front and back of the doors.  The poly I chose is Varathane Oil Based, and on previous projects it has done a great job of self- leveling as it dries if you keep the workpiece horizontal.  After about 4 hours I moved the cabinet to do another surface, careful not to touch the sides which are still tacky.  It definitely takes more time to do only one surface at a time, but the results are worth it.

The product stated you can apply a 2nd coat after 24 hours, but since my garage isn’t insulated and only heated with a portable heater, I waited a full 48 hours to make sure the first coat was thoroughly dry.  Although some professionals use a high grit sandpaper to sand between coats, I find it can result in uneven sanding.  I found a nylon scratch pad made just for sanding between coats of finish, and really like how evenly it works.  Rub down the sheen of the varnish evenly in the direction of the grain.

Nylon scratch pad for sanding between coats of polyurethane.

Once again I used a tack cloth to remove all the dust from the piece and began applying a second coat.  I was not concerned about multiple coats of poly inside the cabinet, so I only applied the 2nd coat to the exterior of the cabinet.  Another 48 hours later, I was almost satisfied with the finish.  I like table tops (or cabinet tops, like this one) to really have a thick looking, glass-top like finish.  That meant lightly sanding the top and applying yet a 3rd coat of poly.

Now the doors.  This cabinet came with a square sheet of glass in each door, though I can’t brag about how they were secured.  Whoever put the glass in used some sort of silicone or gunk that never dried, it stayed thick and sticky almost like tacky glue.  Since there isn’t much stress on these glass doors, I decided to simply use clear silicone adhesive to secure the glass inside the rabbit groove on the inside of the doors.  It applies white and is clear when completely dry.  First I applied a thin bead right in the corner of the groove, carefully placed the glass, and secured it by pushing in glazing points on all 4 sides.

I then applied another bead of the silicone and used my finger to flatten it into the groove so it looked clean.  According to the instructions, I waited until the silicone dried clear before hanging the doors.

Hanging the doors on hinges was pretty simple.  I have a quick rule of thumb for cabinet door hinges.  For large doors, space the hinges 2.5″ from the edge.  For medium to small doors, I space hinges either 2″ or 1.5″ from the door’s edge.  I always mark the holes for the screws and drill a fine pilot hole first; this will prevent the wood from splitting for the screw closest to the outside edge of the door.  Then I secure the hinges with the provided screws.

On a previous kitchen I took all the precious time of measuring and marking out exactly where each hinge should attach to the cabinet face frame… only to realize that although the hinges were exactly where I measured, the tops of the doors weren’t perfectly straight or lined up with one another.  My new method?  Have one person hold the door tight against the frame and eyeball it.  I still measure and put a piece of tape to help line up the hinges, but I have a helper move the door up, and then left, – left some more, NO, LEFT!  – until it is in the perfect place, then I put in the screws.  I find this method of being flexible doesn’t often result in removing the door and having to reposition it.

The holes for the drawer pulls were already made; I simply purchased new pulls with the same distance between the screws and tightened them in place.

Securing  the handles & knobs with a screwdriver.

All in all, here is the completed cabinet!.  I waited to make sure the poly had cured completely before bringing it into the house to keep the smell and evaporating chemicals outside.  Far to anxious to wait (and because I already had things I wanted to store in it), the pictures below give away how my I intend to use the cabinet.  Perhaps later I will photograph it again once all the Christmas decorations are up!

I was simply thrilled with how this cabinet turned out.  Now let me give you the rundown of all my costs involved:

cabinet (lumber)……. free
sandpaper…………….. already had
wood glue………………already had
wood stain……………..$7.99
polyurethane………… $10.99
finish sanding pad……$1.86
drawer glides………….$9.49
glazing points………… $3.29
clear silicone…………. $2.99
new hardware…………$14.10

For a whopping total of (drum roll please?):


Not bad.  Not bad at all.  And cue the feeling of accomplishment; and the excitement of beginning a new project soon!

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Staining up a Storm

This is post 2 of a 3 part series.  Scroll down or simply click here to read post 1 of this series.  Expect the final installment in another couple weeks or so.  And no, this is not a paid endorsement for Minwax; I just enjoy blogging about high quality products.

Just in time for Halloween, the cuticles around my fingernails look better than those of a real live movie zombie, which can only mean one thing:  (no, I’m not preparing for a breakout role in the flick ZombieLand II: Small Town Takeover).  I’ve been getting Minwax manicures while applying the stain to my Roadside Redo two door cabinet.  As promised, I am going to walk through the entire staining process, but first I want to talk about how I prepared the cabinet for staining.

At the end of the first post of this project I had finished reassembling the cabinet.  Before reassembling, I sanded the old varnish off with 60 and then 80 grit sandpaper on my orbital sander.  After reassembling I had so many nail holes, brad holes, and seams to fill with wood putty.  Because I knew I wanted a dark cabinet, I used a stainable wood filler I have had positive results with in the past.

This is where I have to insert a warning about cheap wood putty; although suitable for painted projects or naturally finished wood, they often don’t absorb dark or even medium stain very well.  Just ask the kitchen cabinets I refinished about that.

Using a putty knife I filled all the necessary areas with wood filler and allowed it to dry for several hours, as per the instructions.  I first sanded the entire piece with 120 grit and finished with 220 grit sandpaper, leaving the piece exceptionally smooth.  Before staining it is crucial to make sure your furniture piece and working area is dust free; getting dust in your stain or finish can be disastrous, leaving a rough surface or imperfections in the finish sheen.  I prefer to use a lightly dampened rag to collect the majority of the sanding dust, but always use a tack cloth over the entire furniture piece immediately before applying stain.  Now onto the stain I chose.

I knew I wanted a rich, dark brown color; I felt a dark stain would not only look good in the room I intend this piece for, but would help even out the grain pattern and minimize the appearance of knots.  From past experience, however, I also knew that a dark stain would be a risky challenge as I am fairly certain this cabinet is yellow pine.  Yellow pine does not always accept dark stain well or evenly.  I tested every stain I already have from previous projects on the underneath side of the cabinet, but none gave me a deep chocolate color.  After a quick trip to my local hardware store, I knew one of the two stain colors I purchased would be the one (but which one…?).  Off the Minwax interior wood stain chart, I chose both Jacobean 2750 and Ebony 2718.  If Jacobean proved uneven or not dark enough, I would trade deep chocolate for dark chocolate.   I ventured to first open only the can I thought would be the most likely successful stain.  If I was correct, I would have only opened one and could return the unopened can to the store.  Much to my satisfaction, Jacobean proved to be very close to the deep chocolate color I had in mind.  No need to even open Ebony (although I am really curious to see how it would have looked, I would rather return it and get my $7.99 back).

Also learned during a previous project, when staining any soft woods (pine, yellow pine, fir, and maple among a few others), it doesn’t hurt to use a pre-stain wood conditioner.  Once again I rely on a Minwax product, but I know there are other successful manufacturers.  As with any wood filler, stain, varnish, etc, I like to stick with products I have had positive results with in the past.  Using the conditioner helps the wood to absorb the stain evenly and prevents dark blotches or streaks from occurring.  Just apply it like you would stain, allow to penetrate for 5 – 15 minutes, then wipe off any excess and you’re ready for stain.

For this cabinet I used a clean soft cotton cloth to apply both the conditioner and stain, rubbing the color into the wood but in the direction of the grain.  I applied the stain heavily, letting it soak no longer than 5 minutes, then buffed off the excess with another clean absorptive cloth.  When completed, the stain was not as dark as I would have hoped in certain spots; I also quickly realized there were more than 1 type of wood in this cabinet as the two side frames stained exceptionally dark (and stand out a bit…hmm).  I waited a full 24 hours and reapplied a second coat of stain, letting it soak a few minutes again before wiping off the excess.  This darkened and evened out the stain a bit, but as with any furniture piece composed of multiple woods, there will always be color variations that make the piece unique.

Above is a photo of the drawer front as a sneak peek of how the cabinet will look.  In the final posts of this series I will elaborate on varnishing the cabinet, fastening the glass into the doors, and securing all the hardware.  Hopefully you will read all about that and see the final completed piece soon.  Be on the lookout for the Big Finish & Reveal post!

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