I call this my third child because as I’m nearing the finish line with this we have had two children, my wife quit her job to stay home with the kids, and I’ve gone through a job change (with promotion). With all that has gone on this poor project has had more off time than on, but now I am so close to the finish line I can taste it.
Since the last post I got all of the final little cuts and finishes buttoned up. I was still struggling with the stain but finally found a combination that worked the best. That however required me to re-sand the entire piece to 320 (I did it all by hand). Due to limited lighting in my garage it was really hard to get some good shots of what the stain really looks like, but I gave it my best shot. i’m trying not to open the door to minimize the dust, etc. kick up.
I used stain from Sherwin Williams Sher-Wood BAC wiping stain. The color we choose was chestnut. I have had almost no experience in staining before. There were only one or two other projects I’ve stained and I used Min-Wax on them. It went much better than I feared. I still regret building with the maple when I knew it would be going medium dark, but that was my inexperience that lead me down this path. I had help applying the stain. My friend would brush on the stain and then I went behind him and rub in the stain with a scotch Brite pad. He said this would help the stain take more evenly along with lifting/removing any little fibers in the wood. I think it worked well becau see the wood feels as smooth as it did before it was stained and usually my projects feel a little rough and require a little sanding before continuing after staining. There are still some areas where the stain is darker than the rest and i’m working on fixing that. I welcome any suggestions and tips on how I can accomplish this better.
Now, I know i’m at the critical and final stage…the clear topcoat. This is also where I have the most struggle. It seems like the more I read and the more people I talk to the more I’m not sure which type to use. Since so much of my surface is vertical I’m fairly certain that I want to try and spray it, but if there are better suggestions i’m always open to learn new tricks.
One of my good friends that’s been doing this type of work for a long time suggested using a solvent base poly. I told him I didn’t know if i’d like how it’d amber the color but he says that the stain is dark enough that you wouldn’t even notice. Now, another guy that I work with, who is also a very wise man, suggested that I go with lacquer. He says that it sprays nicely and doesn’t have that kind of “rubberyish” feel that some polys can give. Then I thought waterbased poly would be good because it goes on so clear.
Here is the funny part, the one that suggested oil-based poly said it’s stronger than lacquer, but the friend that suggested the lacquer said it’s stronger than the poly; however I’m too inexperienced to know which is correct. I’ve been reading and reading, but I know this is a crucial finish to this WAY too long project and I’d be so angry if I tripped and fell and ruined it with a bad finish. I’ve seen so many amazing creations on this site that I couldn’t resist seeking the wisdom of the collective people on here.
Due to its size I didn’t want to do a semi-gloss or gloss. I was planning on doing satin, knowing that I’d have to put on more coats to get the protection. I’ve seen a flat, but most of what i’ve read it didn’t look like a good idea for this bench that will be going in our breakfast kitchen area and will have an 18 month and 3-1/2 year old eating at it everyday. I know it will get some wear and tear so I want to give it the best fighting chance that I can.
I thank you all for taking some of your valuable time to read this and I hope that you’ve enjoyed it. I continue to work to be able to create the great works of art that I’ve seen on here.
-- Nathan, Fort Worth TX