|Project by JDNC||posted 04-23-2013 02:03 AM||3531 views||4 times favorited||7 comments|
We needed some more storage, and needed something to serve as end tables for our sofa. so I drew up some plans for a cabinet that could serve both purposes… The next question was what to build it out of.
A while ago I bought some Walnut, but I’d never made any furniture-sized projects out of any of it. I thought that making the end tables totally out of Walnut might make them too dark… so I decided to use contrasting wood. I had seen Walnut paired with Curly Maple, so I decided to buy some Curly Maple, and give that a try.
Lots of learning happened over the last few months while I was working on this project… it started with how to plane and prepare the Curly Maple parts – learning just how to plan, then sand and scrape the Maple to get a good smooth surface, and then figuring out how to pair it with the walnut parts.
But the biggest challenge was learning how to finish these two types of wood – and how to finish them so that the finished product would look good and be protected. I did a lot of Web-based research about how to make the grain pop on Curly Maple, and how to bring out the beautiful color of steamed Walnut. I listened to Charles Neil talk about how you should spend almost as long finishing your piece as you did building it… that’s what happened here!
To finish the piece, first I used a wax-free shellac which was tinted with a dye (TransTint Dark Vintage Maple). I put on a coat, let it dry – then sanded to remove the tint from the less porous grain – then repeated. For the Walnut, I read a lot about using an orange tint in the shellac, but I ended up just using the same tint on it as well… I am now a believer about using shellac with tint to bring out the warmth of the wood! I then followed up the shellac with a coat of Watco Danish Oil – per the instructions on the container. After letting that dry thoroughly (72 hours minimum), I top-coated with General Finishes Arm-R-Seal (satin). I did this whole process on the individual parts, then assembled the entire piece, and put several more coats of Arm-R-Seal on the finished End Tables. All in all there are probably 6 coats of the Arm-R-Seal. I rubbed on each of the layers of all of the different types of finish.
I’m really pleased with the result – it is amazing how at any time during the day, the pieces look different, because the light catches the maple and walnut differently – showing of the grain and color. I would recommend giving these wood species and finishing techniques a try!