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The Nightstands Build #7: Update on the stands, redoing the tops(again) and final sanding

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Blog entry by Eric_S posted 05-08-2011 02:51 AM 5519 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Fixing some mistakes with Inlay - Part 1 of 2 Part 7 of The Nightstands Build series no next part

Hey everyone, it’s good to be back. Had to take some time off due to work and life getting in the way as always and also some time to think about how I wanted to tackle the tops. In my last blog, i tried fixing my tearout mistakes with inlays. Well that didn’t go to well either and the tops looked far worse in some places. I wasn’t happy with such obvious mistakes being so visible so I scrapped the old tops however I will be saving them to use on smaller boxes or jewelry box tops. I figured the fastest way to fix my mistakes was to just redo them completely.

I learned a lot from those mistakes though. 1) Make sure if you resaw your own veneer, that its all a consistent thickness before trying to press it. 2) make sure you press the veneer correctly. These tops were the first time I did veneers and I did them with some cheap clamps and cauls. Well they weren’t glued down in some places so when I went to level the veneers and flatten them using a hand plane(they were around 1/8” thick veneer), it would grab a piece and just tear it out since it wasn’t glued down.

So I redid my veneer press to use cauls that I tapered at the ends with a hand plane so that there would be pressure all the way across when clamped. I also bit the bullet this time and bought professional cut veneer from veneersupplies.com (excellent) so that I had consistent thickness which would help with distributing the clamping pressure evenly across. I also used 1/2” mdf on the top and bottom to also help distribute pressure under the clamps. Last time I used 1/4” hardboard. Finally, I bought some deep throat F clamps so I could clamp further towards the center instead of just around the edges.

These tops came out perfect this time :) There isn’t a single air bubble or part that isn’t glued down. No tearout, nothing. The only issue was I didn’t notice how I laid out the veneer in relation to the substrates, so the center of the 4 point match isn’t perfectly center in the top.

So here are the new tops all sanded and the completed stands(without finish). I got a lot of practice joining veneers and doing a 4 corner match since I had to redo them a couple times :)

I routed a 45 degree bevel on the underside of the top frames as well, not sure how well you can see it from these pics.

Tabletop #1

Tabletop #2

The drawer handles will be screwed on after the finish but they are these style stainless steel pulls… http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=23330&filter=drawer%20pull

So, after almost 1 1/2 years, I will finally be able to finish these stands :) and move on to the bed(I dont plan on that one taking as long)!! Super excited about completing these.

Tomorrow I will start the finishing process. This is the first time finishing a nightstand or anything with drawers. Charles Neil has helped me with some questions I had regarding the overall finish, but I forgot to ask a few so hopefully someone here can help. I plan on using General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat for the finish.

1) Do I finish the inside walls of the stand that will be blocked by the drawers?
2) Do I finish the drawer sides and interior of the drawer? I know I shouldn’t finish the bottom edges of the drawer or rails where they slide on though. I believe I’m to wax these instead?

Questions, comments, constructive criticism welcome.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN



18 comments so far

View superstretch's profile

superstretch

1530 posts in 2158 days


#1 posted 05-08-2011 04:26 AM

Cool stands.. The legs really get me. The contrast between them and the panels, as well as the shape of the legs overall is top notch

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1551 posts in 2660 days


#2 posted 05-08-2011 04:50 AM

Thanks Dan. I really am digging the contrast too and can’t wait to see it with a finish applied. I think if I were to redo it though I’d have the rails and blades be maple as well to make the panels and drawers pop more. Oh well.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View superstretch's profile

superstretch

1530 posts in 2158 days


#3 posted 05-08-2011 05:25 AM

What woods are those?

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1551 posts in 2660 days


#4 posted 05-08-2011 05:30 AM

Cherry and Hard Maple. The dowels for the pinned tenons are also cherry and the top is curly cherry.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1440 posts in 2929 days


#5 posted 05-08-2011 12:13 PM

hey eric: nice progress. those tops look spectacular, and i think this figure looks nicer than that of the previous tops you had used!

as far as the finishing goes, when i did my nightstand, i finished the inside walls with a couple coats of my wiping varnish. I figured that i didn’t want any moisture gradients warping my panels. I didn’t take pains to make the finish look good, just so that there was something there. However, the only part of the drawer that is finished is the front (in and out sides of it) and that was finished prior to drawer assembly. The outside of the drawer sides got a coat of paste wax. the inside got nothing. With these, since neither side gets a finish, the wood movement question is moot. Also, i find that i like the feel of the unfinished wood inside.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4167 posts in 2321 days


#6 posted 05-08-2011 12:42 PM

Eric, great blog/tutorial

I missed this first time

They are looking really nice

jamie

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1551 posts in 2660 days


#7 posted 05-08-2011 04:05 PM

Aaron, thanks for the suggestions. I think I’ll just paste wax the drawers like you suggest(besides the fronts of course). For the middle book shelf I’ll probably use the same finish on the outside and tops and the interior panel walls with a wiping varnish of some sort. Any recommendations?

And yes, I agree, these tops looks far superior to my previous attempts. Unfortunately I had to pay more for these veneers when I had lots of wood already, but I didn’t want to chance it again or spend more countless hours trying to finish it up. well worth it IMO to just buy the veneers this time.

Thank you Jamie.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

615 posts in 3731 days


#8 posted 05-08-2011 04:11 PM

Eric- those stands are superb. The 4-way match on the tops is mind-boggling beautiful. The gentle curve to the legs was a stroke of genius- definitely brings it beyond store-bought ordinary. They may have taken a lot of time as well as blood, sweat, and tears- but in my opinion it was worth it all. Don’t forget to show us the finished pieces. I use Arm-R-Seal on most of my projects. It is great to use and gives a lovely finish. I top it with the Beall Wood Buff System on my small projects, but nothing over it for larger projects.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!" www.woodworks-by-donna.com

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1551 posts in 2660 days


#9 posted 05-08-2011 05:18 PM

Thanks Donna. while the stands do have some minor perfections most people wouldn’t know. They are enough for me to cringe when I see them but I learned from them and what not to do next time :) But these tops are mind blowing, i agree. Can’t wait to see what they look like with the finish. I wish the hand cut dovetails were a little better…next time they will be.

The leg design I wish I could take credit for but I can’t. The original design was my wifes idea with a curve on the top as well.

Then Dave Richards(old LJ member) suggested I just do the bottom curve only and I’m glad I followed that advice. It looks far better and I’ll be incorporating it into the rest of the bedroom set.

I’ll be applying renaissance wax after the finish to the tops as well for extra protection.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

615 posts in 3731 days


#10 posted 05-08-2011 06:11 PM

You made a good choice there, Eric. I sympathize with the problem of having every small defect jump out at you until that is all you can see. I have learned though that after a while your eye will lose its focus on defects and you will just see the whole- as everyone else does already. At least I’m hoping that will happen to me as I finish up the Dragonfly Harp. There are some filled areas that look pretty bad and I’m even thinking about trying to disguise them with some light staining. That would probably make them stand out even more though- so I will probably fuhgeddaboudit and see how it looks when finished.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!" www.woodworks-by-donna.com

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1440 posts in 2929 days


#11 posted 05-08-2011 06:13 PM

for wiping varnish i just use a mix of poly, BLO, and mineral spirits – i’d say 1/3 each, but i tend to go a bit light on the BLO. I’m not familiar with arm-r-seal – is it poly?

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1551 posts in 2660 days


#12 posted 05-08-2011 07:35 PM

Aaron, yes its a urethane resin that Charles Neil recommended it as an easy quick finish that dries pretty clear.

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?page=10928&filter=arm%20r%20seal

Odd, I heard I shouldn’t use BLO on the interior walls because of the odor. Is it not as bad when mixed 1/3 of each?

Donna, I’m sure the harp will turn out wonderful.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1551 posts in 2660 days


#13 posted 05-08-2011 07:37 PM

Aaron, I found this for a wiping varnish mix using the Arm R Seal urethane :) http://www.woodsmith.com/files/issues/169/make-your-own-wiping-varnish.pdf

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13347 posts in 3138 days


#14 posted 05-08-2011 09:32 PM

Nice looking nightstands, Eric.

View AaronK's profile

AaronK

1440 posts in 2929 days


#15 posted 05-08-2011 10:09 PM

i heard that too and totally forgot it when i did the finishing :-) it must be the small amount i use, but there’s no residual odor that i can detect. when using it like a wiping varnish it’s also not really the same as a traditional BLO-only finish, which really soaks in there!

anyway, there’s no secret to BLO, it’s like making your own italian dressing: mix whatever proportions you want. The brand of poly shouldn’t matter too much, they just might use different amounts of solvent in there, so adjust the mineral spirits to taste, basically.

the other thing is, there’s no reason to go out and buy BLO if you don’t already have it – like that article says, a wiping varnish can be had with only the poly. I guess a wiping varnish is more about how you apply the finish than about what exactly it’s made of :-)

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