Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Adventures in Woodworking - Part 2

Jinkies, gang!  I just realized I had not published this part of the story, so with egg on my face, here it is.
When we last left off, the table was in the basement and I was in the process of staining it. This is the first thing I have stained from scratch and let’s say a lot of lessons learned.  First, I bought Minwax pre-stain, stain and polyurethane with all of the other supplies. Being a guy, I just grabbed what I thought sounded good and didn’t pay attention to detail. I should have known better, but like I said, I’m a guy. As it turns out the details are *very* important when it comes to stains and finishing.

Let’s start with the fact that they pre-stain and bought was a good idea for the pine boards I was using. The downside, the stain I bought was water based. The stain I bought was oil based. What’s the old adage?  Something about oil and water not mixing? Yeah….about that.  I realized my goof of course after I slather the boards in the pre-stain. My plan was to let it soak in and dry, then sand it a bit to try and help avoid the inevitable oil and water based products mash up. It was too late to get a water based stain as I was an industrious little beaver and had already started staining the first boards after sanding them when I noticed the stain wasn’t staining as well as I had hoped.  They were coming out a lot lighter than the deep cherry finish I had hoped for.  After some more reading, more sanding and cursing (before my Lenten plan to give up swearing) I decided to suck it up and plow forward.

Also, I found that me shaking the cans for a little but doesn’t really mix it as well as you’d think.  I am sure this stuff was poured into the cans during the Paleolithic era and had some serious settling. Unfortunately, I found this during the application of the 2nd coat of stain when all of the sudden the stain was a lot darker – like the color I had hoped for levels of dark.  Crud.  There wasn’t enough stain to go around for a full 2nd coat so I did what I could do, which was the tabletop for the most part so not all was lost. It didn’t look as bad as I had feared once it dried.

The final step was finishing with polyurethane. As it turns out, this was one part I didn’t really botch up and it looked pretty good considering finishing seems to be quite the art more than a science. Not that I am good with either obviously. The smell was bad but after 2 days of pre-stain, stain and now finish, my family was used to it. We were fortunate that the windows could be opened and we had a nice breeze in the basement with a fan I rigged up to hang from a beam drawing air in.

When all is said and done, I am happy with the end result. It’s a little lower than I would have liked, even though the table tap measures exactly the same as a folding table we have – the edges just come down more. It’s not a problem for the kids but the top of my thighs are up against the table. No biggie. After a few weeks of really drying, the tabletop fits nicely and pops in and out easily. The kids have already used it for solitaire, there is a puzzle being put together on the lower part and we’ll be playing some D&D on it soon. All in all, success!

This was a fun, challenging project for me. I learned I better keep my day job and that a career in woodworking isn’t in the cards for me yet. I don’t get the same level of relaxation others say they do, but that’s probably because I am learning so much every time I do something. If nothing else, we’ll have a neat table that’s highly customized and all of us worked on at different points in time.  Would I do it again? I’m not ready to sign up for that just yet, but would consider it. 

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