Monday, August 6, 2012

Wood Lover's Finish Part 2

     After about 45 hours of shop time the bases are ready to go to their new home.  I'll need to keep them here though until the re-modeling work is completed at my clients home.  We're looking at the 22nd. of this month or so.  I'll put them in the kitchen, protected by some mover's blankets and let them settle into the atmosphere of an air conditioned house.  This will be the last post about the table bases until I deliver and install the Travertine tops on them.
     I wanted to show the final steps to the finish I blogged about in my last post. Here's a picture of the coffee table after two applications of the finish with 600 wet/dry paper.  Notice the Marie Calendar's pie tin on the bench?  That's what I use to keep the finish in.  It's much easier than trying to get it out of a quart can.

Looking Good But Will Get Better

     I received a number of requests for the process and since wet sanding the first coats is pretty self explanatory I wanted to show the final process.  To start, I cut denim up into small pieces; say 2" x 3" or so.  The people on my street that have growing children save their denim jeans for me as the kids out grow them!  Really a good deal.  For the denim applications, just use a very small amount of the finish and work it with the grain of the wood a small section at a time and turn the denim as a section of it gets saturated with the finish.  I'd estimate that the roughness of the denim is probably equivalent to 1000 grit paper.

First Application with Denim
     It was 85 degrees at around 7am so I only worked a very small section of the bases at one time.  It's almost like rubbing in a coat of wax except you want to take it off fairly soon after it's applied.  For this, old towels are a good thing to use:

Wiping Down with a Towel

     This whole process reminds me of being in Marine Corps boot camp and our rifle cleaning routine.  On Sundays we'd drag out our sea chests to sit on and the D.I. would give us some boiled linseed oil to rub into our rifle stocks.  We used our bare hands and were told that the heat caused by friction is what produced the sheen and protection. Some of you may want to use disposable gloves but I find them to be messy, plus they leave marks on the wood.  Use a product like Liquid Gloves (available from Lee Valley) instead.  Here's one side of the table completely done:

Love the Sheen!

     It seems that no matter how carefully you try to wipe every crook and cranny there always seems to be a rough spot.  Usually where two surfaces meet at right angles or underneath the apron.  To overcome that, wipe everything with a new towel after completing the entire piece.  Position yourself so that the light hits the wood at an angle and really eye-ball the surface looking for any thick or missed areas.  The beauty of this finish is that even if you find a missed spot a day or two later all you need to do is re-apply a small amount of the finish with denim.  Same thing for maintenance, a thin application of the 3 part mix rubbed in and wiped off will restore it.  How often should that be done?, I did my kitchen cabinets with this and the only place that needed much attention was around the sink and dishwasher.  Usually I'd do that area before Thanksgiving because that's when the family came over.
     Well, it looks as if tomorrow morning will be time to get back to work on the boxes for the show scheduled for the 20th. of September.  Definitely want to get the bases into the house, the weather man is calling for highs in the 110+ range for Wednesday and through the end of the week.  It creates problems with the wood reacting to the dryness and wanting to shrink across the grain.  When I was at San Francisco State there was the opposite problem.  If you cut a joint at night and waited until the next day to assemble it it was usually a pretty tight fit if the fog rolled in over-night.  The challenges of working with this beautiful material, that's what keeps us going.

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