Scrollsaw Chest Project #5: Finishing

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Blog entry by William posted 11-06-2010 05:21 AM 1567 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: I'm Seeing The Finish Line Part 5 of Scrollsaw Chest Project series no next part

Today all that was left was to do a little more sanding, remove all the dust using a tack cloth and vacuum, and apply whatever finish I decided on. So here is how it went.
There was actually not much sanding left to do. I did find a few little spots that were “scuffy” that I smoothed out. Then I went over the entire thing, inside and out, with fine grit sandpaper. Just to be sure, you know?
Then I cleaned it up real good.
Problem was, I still hadn’t decided on a finish. So I came back home, checked lumberjocks, trying to see what suggestions my lumberbuddies might have made. Bearpie told me what I’d read in a couple of other sites about poly on aromatic cedar. I appreciate it Bearpie. Even though I had read it elsewhere, I was still planning on trying it. The same advice coming from someone I knew usually knows what they’re talking about made all the difference in the world. So, poly was out.
I considered polycrylic, but after applying it on a test piece, it was blotchy as I think it could possible get.
I tested a piece with shellac with pretty much the same results as the polycrylic.
I considered tung oil, but didn’t want to change the color that much. Yes, I tested it too before coming to that conclusion.
I won’t go through all the other brain farts I went through before having a brilliant idea. I have an friend that does woodwork. He’s been building outdoor furniture and such for about forty years. So I called him up. It turns out that yes, he had finished cedar chests before and told me the best way to do it. So, off to the hardware store for supplies I went.

What I learned today is that the reason most finishes don’t do well on aromatic cedar is that the cedar is loaded with oil of cedar (that’s what is was called to me, I don’t know if that’s the proper word for it or not). That oil reacts weird with most finishes. The only finish that does work well is wax.
So, as you can see in the above photo, I taped around the scroll work to protect the cedar around it. I’m applying poly to the scrollwork. Poly will protect the plywood (luan) the scroll work is cut in. The blotching on the cedar behind the scroll work will be fine. It’s small holes that would have to be examined closely to even notice blotching. Also, since the wood behind it was planed to 1/4”, I was careful to pick pieces that did not have knots. I think that will eliminate a lot of the blotching on these pieces anyway.

So here is what it looks like after the poly. It darkened it a little more than I thought it would, but I’m still happy with it overall.
So on to the waxing. Can you saw wax on, wax off?
For those of you that know that I have very bad back problems, I screwed up. I was so into the project that I didn’t think about it or notice it until I quit and came home, but I am in severe pain right now. Five coats on and hand buffed after each coat. I should have bought that car buffer my wife wanted a while back.

I wish I could get my camera to take better photos. These are the best one’s I’ve got so far, and to me they just don’t show how beautiful this wood is after five coats of wax.
I’m almost finished. This is the last blog entry on it though. As soon as I’m through with the final few coats, I’ll post it in the projects section. Thanks to all who have shown interest in this project.


14 comments so far

View Chips's profile


199 posts in 3766 days

#1 posted 11-06-2010 05:58 AM

Great looking project. I know she will love it.

-- Make every day the best day of your life. Chips, Mississippi

View dlmckirdy's profile


199 posts in 3187 days

#2 posted 11-06-2010 06:21 AM

I agree, it looks great! I can also feel for you and your back. I always figured that if I made it to thirty, it would be a miracle (I’m now 61 [today] and am paying for all the off road motorcycles, race cars, horses, and anything else somebody told me I shouldn’t do). Keep up the good (beautiful) work, and try to take it easy on your back.

-- Doug, Bakersfield, CA - I measured twice, cut it twice, and it is still too short!

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3631 days

#3 posted 11-06-2010 06:42 AM

Sheee Zammm thats some fine scroll work great job.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View woodnut's profile


393 posts in 4106 days

#4 posted 11-06-2010 08:06 AM

great chest, the scroll work really sets it off.

-- F.Little

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3796 days

#5 posted 11-06-2010 04:43 PM

Super chest. I really like it. Well Done!

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2977 days

#6 posted 11-06-2010 05:14 PM

Not your everyday common ordinary cedar chest by any means. Well done!

-- Life is good.

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3379 days

#7 posted 11-06-2010 07:30 PM

Really really beautiful.

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3072 days

#8 posted 11-06-2010 09:19 PM

Good looking chest, William! I showed this to my wife and she loved it and was surprised to see my name mentioned, Thanks. Glad to be giving useful advice and glad to know you took it seriously. You really would not want to be putting Poly on this and be frustrated like I am with my bowls. Your daughter will love this! Does she know about this?

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3388 days

#9 posted 11-06-2010 11:25 PM

What a fantastic chest William! The beautiful scrolling looks really wonderful and is integrated perfectly into the chest design.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2896 days

#10 posted 11-07-2010 01:48 AM

No Bearpie, she does not know it. I have a small room on the front of my shop that is staying locked lately and I’m the only one with keys to it. That’s where all Christmas presents that I’m currently making is going so that none of the family can see them until Christmas. It has been mighty hard though to keep her away from the shop this past week while I was working on it.
Now I’m thinking about making another one for my wife. Instead of the scroll work on this one though, I want to use scrolled portraits of unicorns in it (she loves unicorns). That has gotten me to thinking of all kinds of posibilities. Deer scene for a hunter? Fishing or water scenes for the fisherman? There’s endless scroll work designs that could be incorporated into this.
Oh, and since the photos really doesn’t show it off too well, let me tell you. The wax turned out beautifully.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2974 days

#11 posted 11-07-2010 02:44 PM

It is absolutely beautiful, William! I think you did a great job on it. Thanks too for sharing your experiences about the finishing process. It helps a lot to hear about what you are learning regarding different finishes and I am learning along with you. Your daughter is a very lucky girl and you are a great dad!


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View helluvawreck's profile


31707 posts in 2920 days

#12 posted 11-07-2010 02:49 PM

William, that chest is real special and you have done a magnificent job on it.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 4139 days

#13 posted 11-07-2010 03:15 PM

What a gorgeous chest. Your Christmas is going to be one of the best ever. Congratualtions on some fine work!


View Diggerjacks's profile


2261 posts in 3193 days

#14 posted 11-18-2010 08:04 PM

Hello William

It’s absolutely beautiful

A very very very very very good job and a lot of precisions for the process

Thanks a lot

-- Diggerjack-France ---The only limit is the limit of the mind and the mind has no limit

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