|Project by KnickKnack||posted 03-26-2012 03:49 PM||2561 views||13 times favorited||21 comments|
A long time ago, before I was a programmer, I was a typesetter and publisher. Sometimes posh paperwork with “spot varnish” passed across my desk, and I always thought, when used well, that it was incredibly stylish.
So part of the design aim in this piece was to deploy two different finishes – one haute gloss, and the other matt – hoping for a serious contrast in reflection depending on how the light caught it.
The other design aim was to integrate hinge and handle.
This was the result.
Early on in the build I (erroneously) consulted the wife as to whether it would be OK to post-fume the piece – this is what I usually do – the oak does the magic and the ash takes on a slightly pallid hue. She said that the ash shouldn’t be fumed. The lesson here, of course, is what every lawyer knows – don’t ask a question you don’t know the answer to! Well, having asked I couldn’t very well ignore her (been there, done that, lesson learned), so a whole bunch of challenges cropped up – basically, because you can only do a very minimal sanding after the oak is fumed, it needed to be constructable in such a way that after glue-up it was done.
The other challenge, somewhat similar, was that because I was looking for a high-gloss piano finish on the small red piece (from a dump, possibly mahogany?), but nowhere else, that piece needed to be finished on its own, and then glued into place – again, without the possibility for further work on it.
Getting the piano finish itself was something new for me – I’m a satin sheen guy, and I’ve got OK at that – this was new. Attempt one was a flop – too much muck got into it on the second coat, so I had to scrape it down and start again. Attempt two was going OK – I got to the third coat of varnish and then, disaster struck – I was rubbing it down and a piece of grit got onto the 1000 grit somehow – milliseconds later the surface was trashed – scrape down and start again. Attempt three went well – I’ve done the research, and I’ve spent several weeks looking for pumice powder, or rottenstone – all to no avail here in sunny (and drought-struck Portugal). Then it occurred to me that I could, maybe, use something like metal polish – as long as it was abrasive rather than chemical. In the end I got a great surface using a 20 year old tube of gunk that advertises itself for polishing the chrome on car bumpers – I’ve no idea why we have it since I’ve never polished a chrome car bumper in my life. Given my experience on attempt two, I decided to go with finger tips – I saw a documentary once about laquering in the oriental style and that guy said you could immediately detect something going wrong. He was right! So I finally managed to end up with a great finish, and no fingerprints to boot!
I’d been looking forward to saying that the finish was more “Honky Tonk” than “Steinway”, but, basically, it isn’t – more like a Steinway second. It isn’t perfectly flat, but it does blind you when the sunlight hits it – see piccie 2.
The hinges have 3mm metal rod inside – the ash plugs you see are just for decoration and to stop the rod sliding out – I quite enjoy using my drill to make these little plugs.
Overall I’m pleased with some of it – i’m fairly pleased by my restraint in not just “pressing on” when things weren’t right. That said, as usual, I think there’s something a little off – the mahogany should, I think, have been rounded and proud of the enclosing oak struts, and the legs are a little high. As for the “spot varnish” – the jury is out.
I guess that’s all – this box is destined for the much-suffering lady who’s trying to us Portuguese.
Fumed oak, ash, (?)mahogany. Gloss varnish for the gloss and linseed oil for the matt. 30cm x 15cm x 12cm high.
Comments from all ends of the spectrum are most welcome!
-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."