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Forum topic by hairy posted 09-15-2013 03:36 PM 1388 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2663 posts in 3501 days

09-15-2013 03:36 PM

I’m working on a bed for an American Girl Doll. It is a large doll. This is what I have come up with. After I get it all done I will find someone locally to make all the bedding. The inside dimension where the mattress will be is 12” x 24”.

Sassafras and baltic birch plywood. Basically constructed like a drawer with a lift out lid.

It is not yet glued together. I have questions about the finish. I don’t want to mess this up with a bad finish. The pictures don’t really show it, but it has some figure in the headboard and footboards. I kept the best as the top inside of the headboard. Kinda like tiger stripes, curly,it has many names.

I would like to have a clear finish to keep the natural look of the wood.

I think I should finish each component separately before glue up. The bottom will not be glued in, it will sit loosely inside a groove. I’m thinking that finish would gum that up. Sanding between coats would be tough if it’s glued together.

I’ve been trying some finish on scraps. Wipe on poly and spray shellac so far. I don’t like either.

What would you do? Thanks!!

-- My reality check bounced...

15 replies so far

View Wdwerker's profile


333 posts in 2203 days

#1 posted 09-15-2013 03:40 PM

Try a natural stain to enhance the grain without adding color. I use a water based finish that doesn’t add the amber tones most varnishes do.

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2921 days

#2 posted 09-15-2013 03:48 PM

Clint ought to be around soon to tell you not to use Boiled Linseed Oil. I would however.

-- Mike

View Woodknack's profile


11493 posts in 2349 days

#3 posted 09-15-2013 03:56 PM

Lacquer is the clearest, most color neutral finish. Poly will impart a cool tone, shellac will be warm, oil will be yellow. Lacquer alone will not pop the grain, for that you’ll need a stain or stain/dye combination.

-- Rick M,

View waho6o9's profile


8168 posts in 2546 days

#4 posted 09-15-2013 04:06 PM

Natural Watco oil?

View Don W's profile

Don W

18686 posts in 2537 days

#5 posted 09-15-2013 04:09 PM

We all like things a little different. I am also in the “I like blo group”. But, the best way to get the finish you want is to take some scraps and test it.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Quanter50's profile


278 posts in 2265 days

#6 posted 09-15-2013 04:58 PM

I’ll second Watco Danish Oil natural. I used it on all my oak stairs with nothing on top of it. It has held up for 23 years.

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14171 posts in 3952 days

#7 posted 09-15-2013 05:23 PM

clear Walmart spray can lacquer is what I’d recommend. You will luv it

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View ejvc's profile


107 posts in 1930 days

#8 posted 09-15-2013 07:09 PM

In my opinion, as an American Girl doll collector who also has a daughter, it depends. Since AG pride themselves on historical and modern accuracy—I’d finish it like you’d finish any bed you made. But also, you don’t say who you are making it for (well, you say you are making it for the doll but I guess she has an owner?)—for a kid, I would give it a very durable finish.

My daughter’s AG bed (from IKEA, mind you, and in no way comparable) is now painted pink and has glittery jewels stuck all over it. The one I own, from Pleasant Company, is a repro of an 1824 Spanish bed with a painted headboard. My daughter doesn’t get to play with mine :-)

Good luck, you’ve made a lovely piece.

-- Building stuff with my daughter (6). Pretty new to woodworking, I mostly sew...

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2406 days

#9 posted 09-15-2013 08:01 PM

If you want clear highlighted grain use the Watco natural. For added protection you can top coat with lacquer or poly after it cures. If you want just the natural look of the wood use just the lacquer or water based poly.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View oldnovice's profile


6775 posts in 3337 days

#10 posted 09-15-2013 11:36 PM

If you are going use rattle can lacquer I recommend Deft as it atomizes better than most and dries fast without runs. Lacquer over a nice grain popping dye would be my choice.

On the other hand you could go with the “used paint/weathered” look and make it appear to be something handed down through the generations.

Glad it’s your project!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View hairy's profile


2663 posts in 3501 days

#11 posted 09-16-2013 12:19 AM

Lots of good advice here. Thanks!

It’s for an active 8 year old girl, durability is important.

-- My reality check bounced...

View Roger's profile


20923 posts in 2773 days

#12 posted 09-19-2013 12:59 AM

Thin you down some boiled linseed oil and thinner with a 3 to 1 mix. This will help bring out the grain. Be sure to wipe it on, let it soak in. After a bit, wipe any excess off. Let this set so it dries really good before top coating. Try it on a cut-off as a practice piece and see what you think.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2330 days

#13 posted 09-19-2013 08:41 PM

Rattle can poly for an amber tone, or clear lacquer if not. Forget BLO; it’s only good for starting fires. Nyuk nyuk.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View poopiekat's profile


4349 posts in 3704 days

#14 posted 09-19-2013 11:14 PM

Well, hairy…what’s it gonna be????

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View hairy's profile


2663 posts in 3501 days

#15 posted 09-20-2013 01:22 AM

I decided to go with Watco danish finish. I thought I had a good grain and color match, it didn’t end up that way.

I did get the curly figure to pop, it just doesn’t match the other pieces. I have a piece to make another. I hope it’s a better match. I like the way Watco is looking but it is a slow finish. I’ve used it before and had good luck with it. I really wanted Olympia Antique Oil Finish, but I can’t find it anymore. What I had left from a quart is like a lump in the can now.

-- My reality check bounced...

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