Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Communion Cupboard Completed and Delivered

We were trying to get some projects completed before leaving for a trip to Florida to attend a wedding and I knew when I returned I wanted this get this cupboard out of my shop. It's been residing there way too long and I was tired of moving it out of my way and working around it while making planes.

I get that way about a project sometimes. In the course of some projects, especially ones that you only have a small amount of time to commit, you finally reach a point when you just get tired of looking at a partially completed object and the only way to get it out of your shop is to finish it.

 I have to apologize for not doing a better job of documenting the finishing portion of this project but frankly when you're wearing vinyl gloves for hand applying finishing materials and then when you have a spray gun in your hand is just not the best time to be handling a camera. Well not any camera that you care about.

Below you will see some of the flammable poisons I used in the finishing stages of this project. I have to say the finishing schedule on this project was quite involved. The first step was the sanding step. Even though I had worked almost all the surfaces with a plane there was still a necessity to do some sanding.  I was to add some color and therefore I needed a consistent scratch pattern so the colors would be absorbed in a consistent manner. I block sanded all surfaces to 220 grit and the end grain surfaces to 320 grit. I was conscious to use a block on this pine so as to keep a flat surface and not create the wavy surface that is the result of removing more material from the areas of softer grain.

The next step was the blocker needed to keep the pine from splotching. I use a mixture of 2 parts tung oil finish mixed with 1 part lacquer thinner. I applied this mixture liberally and then reapplied in areas that seemed to absorb this material quite quickly. I wiped off the excess with a cotton cloth and then removed the application rags from my shop and laid them flat on the ground outside to dry. This material is most definitely a flammable poison.

After allowing a few minutes for this mixture to evaporate a bit I then applied a Transtint dye made from 2 parts medium brown, 2 parts honey amber and one part reddish brown. This was mixed in distilled water.

After the dye had dried overnight I sprayed a nice even coat of one and a half pound cut dark garnet shellac to the all the components of the cupboard. The next day I sanded the dust nibs off with some 320 grit sand paper and applied a glaze of Sherwin Williams Fruitwood oil pigmented stain. The following day I sprayed all the parts with two more coats of the Dark Garnet shellac. Shellac is not a poison but the alcohol that I used to dissolve the flakes is also sold as camp stove fuel so it's most definitely flammable.

Periodically this piece will be used to display flower arrangements so I scuffed up the shellac on the top and back splash with some 400 grit sandpaper and then sprayed these parts with two coats of a  hybrid waterborne lacquer that has proven to be very water resistant in my house.

When we returned from our brief vacation in Florida I wet sanded all the parts with 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper and then rubbed them down thoroughly with #0000 steel wool. I then completed the final assembly, applied a bit of furniture polish and the next day the cupboard was delivered to the church.

The congregation seems pleased, I'm happy it's in the church instead of my shop, but when It was completed I would have been happy to have put it in my house.

It was nice to walk back into my shop the next morning and concentrate solely on plane making. I don't know exactly what my next woodworking project will be, but I do know will be smaller than this cupboard.



  1. Very informative, detailed and helpful post

  2. Ron,

    Great cupboard. I know the congregation must love it. Thanks for taking us along on your journey.


    Lee Laird

  3. Beautifully done Ron! I love the simple Shaker aesthetic of the cupboard. I can't think of a better style to represent the use of the piece. Well done!

    Louis Bois

    ps...I love the design of your new small smoother!!!

  4. Thanks for the kind comments everyone.

    Louis I really like the Winter Smoother as well, ironically you have one but alas Jameel and I are Winter smootherless. (grin) I hope you're enjoying the plane.


  5. Ron, What a beautiful job. I need to speak with you about finishing some pine rails and stiles so that they match the original color. Luckily, the rails and stiles will be nice and flat by using my Winter Smoother. :o


  6. Ron,

    Nice piece of work. I know how you feel about finishing a project. Sometimes I think the last 10% of the project takes 90% of the time.


  7. Ron,
    I've enjoyed reading about the construction of the communion cupboard. It's great to finally find a project deserving of special boards you've been hoarding, isn't it. Thanks for going in to the details of how you finished the cabinet.