Sunday, April 05, 2009

Slouching Towards Completion

I’m a little more than half way through 4 of the last 5 doors. I’m working on the 4 small doors on the bottom of the dinging room side of the cabinets. I now wished I had done these bottom 4 before I did the 4 uppers. These went pretty smooth with the jig to mortise the hinges, when compared to the uppers.

In this picture the doors are just sitting in the openings. The mortise and tenon joints are just dry fit. The hinges are mortised in but they aren’t screwed in to place. This is just to make sure everything fits. The next step will be to add a decorative bevel to the inside-front of the door and to mill a dado to accept the panel.

These doors will be solid wood, raised panels. This presented a bit of a problem and a missed opportunity. The panels need to be 12.5 inches wide by 14.5 inches high. I found some beautiful wood at Almquist Lumber that was almost perfect - almost.

Apparently there are some guys in Korbel, CA that are going up in to the mountains and salvaging old-growth redwood logs that were felled 100 years ago but never taken to the mill. For what ever reason – the logs were too big or not deemed good enough – there were left there. So now Almquist has a great selection of rough-cut, full-dimensional old-growth redwood. There is every size from 1X4 up to 1X12. They also have 5/4ths thick lumber, which is great for making the cabinet doors, since I milled all of the curly redwood to 7/8ths for the face-frames.

The problem is, the largest width is 12 inches and I need a minimum of 12.5 inches. It is not something I could fake, so I had to get some 1X8 and glue up two boards. Those are out in the garage in clamps right now.

The good news is, I should get these four doors finished by this weekend. Then there will be just the one center door left. Whew! If it weren’t for the fact that I need to write a fat check to the Government in 10 days I could order the marble, but that will need to wait. There is plenty to do still, so I don’t think the project will sit idle for lack of marble.


John said...

This is looking great. If it wouldn't be too much of a bother, would you mind taking a picture from further back sometime? I'd love to see the cabinets from a broader perspective. Thanks!

Gayle A. Robison, DVM said...

What sort of finish are you going to put on the wood when you're done? Just a rubdown with tung oil or what?

Greg said...

John, I wish I could get a better shot. This room is long and narrow to fit a long dinging room table. To get that show I have my back against the wall and camera is inches from my face.


The finish will be a 50.50 mix of boiled linseed oil and turpentine, and then finished with 5 or 6 coats of shellac. In this shot, everything already has the oil on it except the new doors at the bottom.

If left alone, the redwood would eventually get dark patina on its own, but that takes decades.

StuccoHouse said...

Interesting about the old logged wood. A few years ago around here someone came up with the idea of dredging the river to pull up old logs that fell off their transport 100+ yrs ago when the river was used to float the wood supply where it needed to go. From what I hear, the cold water keeps the wood well and it's beautiful. I thought that was pretty interesting/ingenious.

Taxes suck.

Greg said...

About 10 years ago I read about a project to to pull some of the "hundreds" of logs off the bottom of Green Bay. The same thing was said at the time that the almost frozen water kept the logs in near pristine condition.

These logs, while they are exposed to the elements, are able to fight off decay and rot only because they are redwoods. A tree can take thousands of years to completely return from whence it came. For the first few hundred years after it hits the forest floor there is no noticeable change to the wood.

STAG said...

Interesting that you use shellac...a difficult finish to get right. In fact, I never did get it right. (I suspect I was sold shellac from old stock, or the humidity was too high, or the stars were not aligned.) I was shown a different finish by a fella who finished pianos...he could take an old Steinway which was alligatored and scratched to xxxxxx and would have it looking like new within a couple of days.

This is the way he did it and it is the way I still do it every couple of months when I have an old radio cabinet or carved table top to refinish before sending it back to auction.

I dip my hand in boiled linseed oil, and drizzle spar varnish on it. Rub it in with my bare hand. Rub it until it starts to get very slightly sticky, thats the finish starting to set up from the warmth of your hand. Then leave it until the next day, and repeat.

Doesn't take as long as you might think, and the oil helps the varnish to set up really quickly. The first coat should be heavy on the oil, the second heavy on the varnish, and the last a week later should be almost all oil. Dust is not a problem with this fact, a little dust helps fill the pores.

You have to try it to believe it. But for hundred of years this simple hand rubbed finish has graced pianos and old woodwork, and it is a simple way to recover old varnish finishes on old furniture.

Is the shellac method a common one in built-in cabinetworking where you are? I think if you can get shellac to work, it certainly looks stunning.

There is nothing about this job you are doing which looks amaturish in any way Greg...and I am blown away by your stick-to-it-ivness. You are an inspiration.

Greg said...

Some friends of mine did have a spar varnish finish applied to the woodwork in their home. It looks very nice. I've always been under the impression, though, that shellac was the more common finish. In fact, they sheepishly admit that shellac would have been a more period appropriate finish. I'm not really sure.

I use shellac not only because I thought it was the appropriate finish, but also because I find it very easy to apply. I also know that the trim in my house was originally finished in shellac. It is alcohol based and strips off easily with alcohol and steel wool.

I was surprised when you wrote "a difficult finish to get right". Head over to The old House Web forum and ask others about their experience with shellac. Most will use words like "easy" and "forgiving". Perhaps you did get a bad batch.

Thanks for the compliments on the work. It does look nice in pictures.