Sunday, August 14, 2005

Last Minute Project

Yesterday when I went to pick up the doors I decided to stop at this other little “antique store” around the corner. It is actually more of a junk store. They have some useful stuff, but a lot of it is just absolute garbage. About 25% of the store is completely inaccessible because the stuff is just piled in the corner. And I do mean piled. The pile must be 10-feet tall and it occupies a large part of a rather small store.

Anyway, I pop in there from time to time just to poke around. I probably haven’t been in there in 8 months or more. Towards the back, on the floor, was an old Eastlake style mirror in pieces – not the glass part, but the frame. They wanted $30 for it. I offered her $25 and she said yes. I wasn’t planning on spending any more money, but for $25 I couldn’t resist. You can see my point, right? I am only human, after all.

Here is how it looked when I got it home

The mirror part is separate form the frame and pivots on a horizontal access in the middle. I really do need this for the bathroom because I only have a small mirror in there now. Even though this is not large it almost acts as a full-length mirror because it pivots on the horizontal axis.

Also, I have a marble top Eastlake commode (?) in the bathroom that has very similar designs on it. The little commode used to have some type of top, but it was missing when I bought it about 2 years ago. The new mirror, while not a perfect fit, is close enough that it won’t look odd.

But back to the mirror.

I took it apart and removed the mirror

I then stripped the paint and cleaned it with alcohol

And then put it all back together

I think the wood is white oak. It originally had a very dark stain so I got a small can of walnut stain. Because of the detail on it I don’t think I could have sanded everything back to bare wood. Perhaps I should have tried, though. The hope was that the lighter parts I exposed from sanding would darken to match the darker stain. This didn’t happen the way I’d hoped. I’m not accustomed to working with stain. I’m now stumped as to what to do next. Arguably it looks better than when I started but it hardly looks good.

I’m going to have to ask around about a solution. I think I may try and apply more stain to the lighter areas and let it sit longer and see if I can even it out. The two light circles at the top are two missing rosettes. I’m not worried about those right now. They can be replaced.

It is a nice mirror. You can see in the last picture how the mirror pivots. It has little stylized floral carvings on it that are a very close match to the commode (I hope I’m using that term right). It also has a nice crown detail at the top. I hope I can get it to work.


Gary said...

Would you like me to send you a small baggie of walnut aniline dye?
You can darken shellac with it. I have more than I need.

Anonymous said...

A commode is a toilet Greg

SmilingJudy said...

Yes, anonymous, a commode can mean a toilet, but it meant a piece of furniture before there were toilets.

Definition: A commode is a low chest, usually with doors or drawers, with short legs. The term now also can refer to a toilet.

I think you're using the correct term, Greg.

StuccoHouse said...

White oak can be finicky w/ stain. You might try buying a wood (pre-stain) conditioner to put on the lighter spots. It may help the wood take the stain more evenly. I personally think you did the right thing in not sanding back to bare wood. When I refinish furniture...I like to get down to the original stain and then work from there.

Anonymous said...

I have a very, very similar mirror on my Eastlake dresser. You did a great job! I know you'll figure someway to even out the color. The rosettes will be easy to replace, and once they are stained, they will look like they've been there the entire time. Love the commode. Eastlake is one of my favorites!

Suzanne said...

That was me with the Eastlake dresser. You are certainly keeping busy on your "vacation", my friend!

Suzanne said...

Just looked at your commode again, I have one of those too, in the same set as the mirror and dresser. The chamber pot would go inside the small cabinet, and often a big wash bowl and pitcher would sit on the marble top.

Trissa said...

Yeah- I think the conditioner might have helped even it out. I'll look in my finishing book and see if it says anything about evening out the stain after it's put on. You might want to put a post on the Tauton Press forum for woodworking. I got a ton of great input about varnishing the exterior doors. Looks great!

derek said...

Does white oak change with light exposure? I have fir doors, and where the doors were never painted, under the escutcheon, they're very dark. Aniline dye sounds like the way to go, since you're trying to get a colour match.

Greg said...


Yes, I would love to try some. That is very generous. I looked locally and found nothing.

PO Box 43
Eureka, CA

Thanks to others for the clairification and advice. Would I be too hard-core if I started using a Chamber Pot? ;-)

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Gary said...

I will bag some up for you. You dissolve it in alcohol, strain through a coffee filter and add to your shellac. Clear is ok. You won't need much. As a mixture with alcohol you can use it as stain too but you will have to seal it.
Looks like the blogspammer has targeted you too! What a Wally!

Kristin said...

I adore the mirror. It's similar to the one on my Eastlake dresser, also. I have a little Eastlake commode also with a marble top. I didn't think about the chamber pot going in the bottom cabinet. I think I'll find a different use for it. ;)

Jocelyn said...

Next thing we know you'll be writing a post like this:

"And last night while I was asleep I managed to strip 3 doors and buy some authentic brass hinges on eBay and I wasn't even awake."

Honestly, I don't know how you do it :)

Oh, that's right....fairies...

seriously though, what about boiled linseed oil as a first coat. We usually apply it before we apply any stain and it helps even things our quite a bit.

slateberry said...

When I have a problem area to finish, I use a very thin cut of dewaxed shellac and denatured alcohol as a washcoat. The washcoat does a great job of evening out the absorbtion of stain color across areas of different porosity (heartwood vs. sapwood, endgrain vs. whatever-you-call normal grain). I follow with gel stain instead of traditional stain. I don't entirely understand how or why it works, but apparently the gel stain tends to sit on the wood more than soaking in like a typical stain. Purists would say it obcures the grain, but in my experience, I can still see the grain beautifully, but my problems are obscured or minimized. This has worked well for finishing new pieces of poplar to match original ones. I can't wait to try your blo and turp recipe though--that might be even better, and I'm betting, what was originally used in my 1887 house.