Making a Penn spice cabinet using mostly hand tools. #17: And now we return for the exciting conclusion!!!

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Blog entry by JeremyPringle posted 11-22-2012 05:46 AM 5501 reads 3 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 16: Cutting shellac Part 17 of Making a Penn spice cabinet using mostly hand tools. series no next part

DONE!!! D-O-N-E, DONE!!!

A note before I continue. I will explain what I have done in the last week, but because the process is quite time consuming and messy, I did not have my camera set up, so I have very few picture of the process.

Basically what I did, I brushed on 4 more coats of the amber shellac that I mixed up. Sanding gently between coats. Then I wiped on 4 more coats of a clear ‘french polish’ finish that you can buy. I let it cure for 2 days until I was sure that I was not going to destroy everything that I had done. Then on to something new that I had never done before. Rubbing out the finish. I used mineral oil as a lube and a small scrap of wood as a block, using 400 wet/dry I lightly sanded until I had a consistent sheen surface, free (almost) of pitting. Then the same thing with 600. Then using a small pad of 0000 steel wool soaked in oil, I dabbed the bottom in pumice. Really gently going only with the grain just overlapping strokes. Then the same thing with rottonstone. After wiping all the oil off, I let it sit overnight.

On to the last step…. wax. I use some cheese cloth and put a clump of wax in the middle, rubbing it on the surface in rows of small circles, they are hard to see, I could not get the camera to pick up the swirls that are evident when you are doing it in raking light.

Once I have gone over the surface a few times, I let it sit for a few min, then I used a wool pad (supposed to be used for polishing bowls?)

I polished the wax until it looked like this….

I then installed the secondary drawer blades, knobs on the drawers, hinges and the lock. DONE!

Now, some final notes about this project. When I build something for myself, (which this is) one of my personal goals is to make something more difficult than the last project, something where I will learn a lot, and challenge myself. Some things that I learned from this project:
1. I should have put more time into planning. I would have loved to put some secret compartments in this, I love secret compartments, and I try to put them in most things if I can.
2. LA planes with a 50° blades are awesome for this kind of grain patterns. I wish I had gotten it before I started, It would have saved me a ton of time during the surface prep phase. And speaking of surface prep..
3. I would have spent more time in prep’ing the surface before applying the dye and shellac. After applying the shellac, and reading up to get ready for the next steps, I learned that I had not done as much as I needed to get better results. I was able to get ok results, but next time I do this type of finish, it will be much better.
4. I need to get me some sweet rasps.

Some really great things about this project:
1. I did not use a tape measure. I used dividers for all my lay out.
2. I gave most of my hand tools the time that they deserve.
3. There are 134 dovetails, none of which have been used ‘decorativly’. From the very start, it was one of my goals to not have any DT’s visable, and only use them for what they would have been used in the 18th century. For example, I used half blinds for the top…..

I feel that had I used through DT’s, the top would have been wrecked. I also used moulding to cover them all up.
4. All the primary wood is from the same chunk that I started with.

Well, thats about all I can think of. Thank you all for following this project from start to finish. Now Chippendale lowboy here I come!!!!


4 comments so far

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1285 posts in 3730 days

#1 posted 11-22-2012 06:17 AM

You did a great job on the build and the blog Jeremy. Looks beautiful.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2047 days

#2 posted 11-22-2012 01:43 PM

amazing job

-- Joel

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2353 days

#3 posted 11-22-2012 02:56 PM

Gorgeous build, a spice cabinet is on my list of to do’s someday as well. When I build for our home I try to challenge myself to do something new on every project as well. Since I usually screw stuff up, I also try to challenge myself to creatively fix mistakes instead of cutting new pieces ;)

-- Steve

View BenR's profile


333 posts in 2621 days

#4 posted 05-16-2013 06:45 PM

Hi Jeremy, I found your blog again! I was following along at first but when you stopped writing, I thought you abandoned it. Very nice blog with lots of pics, good info, and a nice read. Your spice box turned out beautifully. I made one last year for my daughter and found out that they are way more challenging than it seems a first glance. The tiger and quilted maple make yours just stunning. The work of a true craftsman. Thank you for the blog. I love seeing how others work.

-- Ben in Va

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