|Project by dvhart||posted 02-23-2010 07:21 AM||6498 views||5 times favorited||8 comments|
This is my first set of actual cabinets. I used pre-finished birch for the boxes and alder for the face frames. The drawers are constructed of 1/2” baltic birch with half-blind dovetails. In future projects I’ll use prefinished 1/2” birch (as opposed to baltic birch) as it’s less expensive and easier on the router bits with less resins – and I don’t have to finish it of course! The gel-stain is called Java and was very difficult for this novice to apply. The knobs are solid brass from restoration hardware, all the drawer slides are full extension ball bearing Accuride. They were expensive to build, but I got a much better set of cabinets than I could have afforded to buy from a custom shop.
I used General Finishes “Java Gel Stain”, applying one coat and then rubbing it off. This was the hardest part of the finishing as the time it set was difficult to gauge for me, as was selecting appropriate sized areas. The goal was to have some grain show through so it didn’t look like paint, and I think I accomplished that, but it isn’t as even as I’d like. After than I applied two coats of Zinsser Bulls Eye SealCoat Universal Sanding Sealer (wax-free shellac), sanding with 220 after each coat. Finally, I applied 3 coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Oil & Urethane Topcoat (Satin) with a clean rag, scuffing with a fine pad between coats. The topcoat was the easiest to apply with the exception of the inside corners on the rail and style door and drawer fronts – I still find those areas very difficult to get right.
Update: Lessons Learned
The biggest challenge for me was definitely applying the finish – it literally took me a month to apply the 5 coats of the various finish products. So what did I learn? Wood is naturally beautiful and should not be stained… ever. :-) I followed Norm’s (NYW) example and didn’t glue the face frame joints since the pocket screws supposedly are sufficient. Over the years the joint has popped a little – not enough to show a gap and not so much as to show a gap in the stain, but enough that I can feel it when I rub my fingers across it. I have glued future pocket screw joints. Face it – you’re NEVER going to replace a rail or style. Lastly, when building a large cabinet like this, I would install 3/4” partitions on either side of the drawers to mount the drawer-slides on. On this cabinet I used the face-frame mounting kits which just don’t feel as stable to me and leave the slides visible from the area under the sink – not a big deal, but in future cabinets I installed mounting cleats on the sides of the boxes to screw the slides to and was happier with the result.