Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Day(!) and Cabinet Finishes

Dear Siding - we'll get to you some day!
A snow day in Alabama is a pretty big deal since it doesn't happen often, so TWO snow events in one week has been especially exciting! We woke up to about an inch of snow on Tuesday morning, waited around for drizzling rain to change over to snow Wednesday, and measured two inches of snow from that round yesterday morning (above). Fortunately, it has not been terribly cold for us during all this. Maybe I'm a spoiled Southern belle, but I just can't imagine living in a place where the norm is dealing with feet of snow every year!

The kitchen cabinet progress continues to roll along. As Steven suspected, cutting out the pieces for the corner base cabinet proved to be a bit tricky, but the third time's the charm, right? Steven and our neighbor Craig cut out many of the upper cabinet box pieces over the weekend, but that task isn't quite done yet. Also over the weekend, I started finishing the cabinet interiors, the ones that will be seen anyway. This includes all the upper cabinets and only the corner base cabinet. All the other base cabinets will have drawers, so the actual cabinet box doesn't need interior finishing.

Cabinet interiors finished with Cabot satin finish spar varnish.
For the cabinet interiors, we went with Cabot's satin-finish spar varnish. After three coats and sanding in between with 220-grit sandpaper, I gave them a good rub-down with 0000-grade steel wool. Think I've got 13 panels done so far, still more coming!

We have not quite nailed down how we are going to finish the quarter-sawn white oak face frames, but these samples may be helpful for others. Steven has ordered a cherry Danish oil and gel stain to achieve something between the darkest and lightest samples (seen below) with a more reddish tone. We'll let you know when it's just right!

Testing cabinet finishes against Forbo Marmoleum Click flooring in Sahara.
1. Gustav Stickley's original Arts and Crafts finish. This piece went through ammonia fuming, followed by amber shellac (we used Zinsser Bulls Eye Amber Shellac), then a paste wax (Liberon Fine Paste Wax Black Bison in Tudor Oak). We ended up with a greenish tint here, which did not pair well with our flooring.
2. Based on Christopher Schwartz's take on Stickley's finish. This process starts with an oil-based wood stain (Cabot Wood Stain in Dark Walnut), followed by a walnut Danish oil (Watco Dark Walnut Danish Oil), amber shellac, then paste wax.
3. Paste wax only.
4. Based on Robert Lang's version of Stickley's finish. Lang (and others) cautions that the ammonia fuming process can yield uneven results, and aniline dye or colored shellac is usually needed to touch up lighter areas. The layering of products is very similar to the process Schwartz described, but linking to both write-ups is helpful here.
5. General Finishes Java Gel Stain followed by amber shellac. By this point, it was apparent that 2, 3, and 4 were going to make the cabinets and flooring blend together, so this (5) was an attempt for more contrast. In my opinion, the Java Gel Stain alone was approaching purplish in natural daylight, but the amber shellac brought it back to a nice deep brown, maybe too deep... Hence the upcoming experiment with the cherry danish oil and gel stain.

Thanks for checking in with us - have a great weekend :)


  1. I moved to Arkansas from Massachusetts because I was sick and tired of snow. Today they're having a blizzard there and we're in the 50s. 70s possible later this week. That's so much better in my opinion!

    I like number 5 the best to give it depth.

    1. Could not agree more about those temperatures, and I really wish spring would get here already, haha! We were hoping that the cherry Danish oil and stain would be here by now, but apparently UPS is having trouble with this inclement weather too :(