I mentioned it in the previous post and as I was working on the drawers I had the main carcass take the finish to make use of time.
Mahogany much like Oak has large open pores. My finishing goal was more for practice than necessity, but I was aiming for an antique polished look – shiny outside. I knew I would have to fill in those pores if I want an even polished surface. So my plan was to start with a filler coat which I tried to concoct using dewaxed shellac and mahogany sanding sawdust (from a 220 grit paper). It was suggested to me that this may not be fine enough dust to penetrate the pores, but I figured I’d give it a try and at least gain some hands on knowledge from experience.
So first coat was a concoction of the aforementioned shellac with sawdust. I was surprised how well the sawdust blended in with the shellac, but I think I should have used more sawdust (I didn’t want to sand too deep into the wood, and was somewhat displeased with the sanding degrading the polished look of the wood after it was planed and scraped earlier):
The Shellac gave the wood a real nice warm tone although I’m not sure if poly would not give similar results off hand.
Note to self – Shellac is much thinner than oil poly (which is what I have been used to brushing up till now) and should not be brushed too heavily as it WILL run (not too concerned as this is a toolbox, but still…).
I ended up doing 2 coats of shellac and sanded in between – I did not get the results I wanted. the pores were NOT filled as much as I had planned them to. If I ever need to finish a furniture piece of mahogany I’ll use proper pore filler, for now – not a biggy, I should however have wiped it on rather than brush it on. for some reason I thought it would be easier for me to reach into and between the dividers with a brush – it wasn’t.
Now My necessity goal was to protect the box from machining mess such as oily/greasy hands, so Poly was set for the top coat(s). I used General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Satin for those. I had previously always used minwax poly and had good results with it, but figured I’d give this one a try and see how they compare. look wise I don’t see much of a difference, but the ArmRSeal is thinner and probably comparable to minwax wipe-on poly (which I’ve never used – I always mixed my own with mineral spirits just for the last 2 coats to get them thin and even). I dropped the brushes (which were old and started to break down on me with the shellac) and just wiped on the poly. I was surprised how much easier it was for me to reach into tight spots with the wipe, so much more than it was with the (foam) brushes earlier – oh well, lesson learnt.
I put on 3 coats of poly on the carcass at which point I was done with the drawers construction at which point I did 2 coats of shellac on the drawer fronts, followed with 2 coats of poly on those as well. it was quite pleasing feeling the glass smooth surface of finished maple compared to the mahogany with it’s open pores.
Another thing I noticed was that I sanded between coats on the drawer fronts with 220 grit whereas I used 600 for the carcass which I think was way too high to really knock off any high spots on the finish and just ‘smoothed’ it out around it. This led me to think – I probably always used too fine sanding between coats using 400 grit (I ran out of that one so used 600 which was the only thing I had higher than 220) and should use 220-320 from now on to even out the finish. I noticed that the 600 didn’t really clean off the runs I had on the side of the carcass… oh well, lesson learnt.
I ended up sanding the carcass 3rd poly coat with 220 grit, and added one more coat of poly on it.
All in all, I’m pleased with the results. it has the antique ‘used’ distressed look that I was going for minus the polished top panel:
Here’s the before image of carcass with 3 coats of poly and unfinished draws:
And the After with it all finished, PLUS I patched the large drawer front which was previously blown through when I routed the drawer slide channels:
Not too shabby.
Conclusions – use proper pore filler, wipe on the shellac, sand between coats with a courses grit than 400.
Now to really finish this off I need drawers pulls, front panel to lock the drawers, and I want to add feet to protect the carcass bottom, BUT, there is no pressure on those as the toolbox is fully functional and already houses all my lathe tools as it should.
Thanks for reading,
-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.