Less Than Perfect. More Than Neccessary.

With all the woodworking done I turned my attention to finishing. Not knowing any better, I bought General Finishes “Milk” Paint on my last trip to Woodcraft. My mom picked out Lamp Black so black it was. I still don’t understand the differences between this product and the traditional powder form of milk paint (at least not from a results standpoint). I guess I’ll have to pick up some of the powder stuff and do a comparison.

As far as the acrylic, GF stuff, I love it. The first coat looked hideous but the second coat was awesome (and easy). I ended up putting a coat of paste wax over the second coat but would’ve liked to try boiled linseed oil. I just didn’t have the time or material to do sample boards.

After the second coat.

After the second coat.

The top was another story. I didn’t do any research on finishing chestnut. Maybe I should’ve. I hear so many great things about shellac so I picked up a can of amber Zinsser. I cut it 50/50 with mineral spirits and ragged on the first coat. My main problem was where the proud breadboard ends meet up with the panel. Getting finish in that area was quite difficult with a rag. On my third coat the rag started to stick as I overlapped strokes and I panicked. I let it cure for about 24 hours and then switched to my tried and true Arm-R-Seal. It ended up ok. If anyone has some tips for working with shellac, please post them in the comments below.

After the second guessing was over, I installed the hardware (including the torsion hinges from Rockler) and put it in our empty dining room for the girls to play with. Then it moved into the office since there was some delivery problems over the weekend. Wherever it went, they weren’t far behind.

For the first day, all I could see were the flaws. But after spending the entire weekend watching my girls make it their own my attitude changed. Completely. They don’t care about the slightly flawed finish, or less than perfect fit, or the slightly uneven reveals. To them it’s a drum, or a place to put their toys, or a seat to put on your shoes.

As this project ends, my only hope is for this chest to evolve alongside my family. And one day, when my mortal coil has shed, for someone to look at this chest as a place to find my heart.


About Shawn Nichols

Heady. Phishy. Woodworker
This entry was posted in Toy Chest and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Less Than Perfect. More Than Neccessary.

  1. Marilyn says:

    Wow! That turned out great!


    • Thanks Marilyn. I really want to do more of these six board chests. They go together so easily and they can be customize in so many different ways. I want to put one if every room of my house but I don’t think my wife will go for that.


      • Marilyn says:

        Sounds like a good idea to me. Space would be an issue for me. I’ve been trying to find an excuse to build a campaign chest from the new book. Guess I’m going to have to find a friend who needs one. 🙂


      • The campaign furniture is on my list too. I think it’ll be great for my girls as they get older and move away. At 1 and 3 I have some time. But my nieces and nephews are older so maybe they can be guinea pigs. I’m thinking the stackable chest of drawers would be cool for college or post college people. I know I could’ve use it. What do you think about using cut nails to speed up the joinery on the campaign furniture?


      • Marilyn says:

        Eww .. that’s a good idea. College furniture! I used cut nails on my six board chest and really like them. I’ll be using them again for sure.


      • I love the title. I’m hopefully heading to Cincinnati this weekend for the Lie-Nielsen hand tool event. I’ll try to talk with Chris and get his thoughts. I’m thinking of your design with the copper nails or even the black ones I used from Lee Valley. I could be a whole different branch of the genre. I’ll keep you posted.


  2. Chuck M says:

    Denatured Alcohol is what should be used to thin and clean up Shellac. I don’t know if using mineral spirits is what gave you the trouble with applying it or not, but give it a try again with Denatured Alcohol. Shellac is my go to finish, I love it.


    • Chuck M says:

      But the chest looks great.


    • Hmmm. I didn’t know that. Thanks Chuck. I work with a bunch of chemists, I’ll have to find out the difference between DNA and MS.

      After letting the mixture sit overnight it became congealed. I thought the shellac was bad but I had just bought it a few weeks ago. I checked the date code using this technique from Glen Huey. Using this method I should have a good year or more left in my shellac. I’ll give it a go with DNL on my next project.


  3. Looks great, Sean. Your girls obviously love it so those flaws you see will be character to them, if they even notice when they get older. You might have to build another so that they don’t fight over who gets to put it in their own house.


    • Good call. I can’t believe how easily these things go together. When I got home yesterday, my mother in law was watching the 3 yr old because she was sick. They were using the chest as a tea table. It really does get better each time I look at it. Thanks Jim.


  4. Ed says:

    Hey Shawn, it came out great, especially from what I saw of it when you had it in the shop. Have a suggestion for you…. I remember when you tore this thing apart, how many comments you made about trying to figure out the history… maybe you could write up a little outline and laminate and secure it to the bottom.. that way the next time it is refurbished it will have a the beginning and middle of the story already written…..


  5. Pingback: Milking It – Part III: Fin | While The Glue Dries

  6. Pingback: Coming to Terms with My Dado Stack | While The Glue Dries

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