After a few weeks away due to travel and rainy weather, I was finally able to finish the table. The formula I was following was similar to what I used on an earlier folding step stool water based Transtint dye, sprayed shellac, and then as this was a table, Arm-R-Seal oil & urethane topcoat.
I started with the dye, first wetting everything to raise grain, and then light sanding with 220 to knock down the stander uppers. I then mixed the Transtint Mission Brown dye power with distiller water. I’d used this before, and gotten good results, but somehow I talked myself into thinking I’d made too “light” of a mix, and went much heavier this time, making the mix very dark. I applied it to my project, and after foam brushing it on, letting it stand a bit, and ragging it off, let it dry.
Now, if you’ve ever used water dye before, you know about this phenomenon: after applying the dye, your project looks like crap. It doesn’t matter if you’re gently coloring, or going at it hard, it looks like crap at this stage. I knew this was coming, but added to that was the fact that I’d never mixed the dye this strongly before, and my piece had this super matte, dark chocolate color that was awful. I kept telling myself it would look fine when the shellac was added—after all, that’s how this finish gets its great look. But that didn’t stop me from agonizing that I’d screwed it all up, and was maybe going to have to try and rag some of it off to make it lighter. Thanks to my travel ,and the life/weather, I had about three weeks to worry myself about it.
When I finally made it back to the shop, I tested some shellac on the least visible piece; the plywood board that the split sliders attach to. And to my relief, THERE was the color I was looking for! So, it was time to HVLP spray shellac. I’d ordered some garnet shellac flakes for the first time—previously I’d just used amber shellac from a can. It was garnet shellac from shellac.net, and I’d picked up some 90+ proof denatured alcohol to mix it in. After the flakes had dissolved, I loaded it into the sprayer, and started applying it. It was looking great, and the “chocolate” from the dye combined with the shellac to make the ray flecks pop, and the whole thing developed a deep, rich, textured glow. But, it turns out I didn’t mix enough of the garnet shellac, and ended up mixing in amber shellac as I went. It looked and worked fine, and I laid down 4-5 thing coats, sanding lightly in between.
After the shellac was dry, I moved on to General Finishes Arm-R-Seal, a wipe on urethane and oil mix, and I chose a satin. This stuff levels very nicely. I applied 3 coats of it with a foam brush, and let each coat sit 6-8 hours before wet sanding with 400, 600, 800 (respectively) grit wet-dry paper wetted with mineral spirits to level the nibs.
And then, I was able to re-assemble, and set it in our kitchen. I’m thrilled at how it turned out. I’ll post a project on this soon with better pictures.