The finish for the console was decided by default due to the chosen for the dining table. I know I didn’t want to use a water-based polyurethane. A finish I have used several times in the past, but it does not have the look I was going for. Back out to the world-wide-web to investigate finish options.
I came across a series of videos and blog post by Ask Woodman showing the application of Waterlox. I decided to use this way back in the concept stages and even got samples of Waterlox to test out. It definitely produced the final look I wanted, but it took a long time between application and use. So, I was somewhat relived to revisit the above link and discover that he was not impressed with the latest iterations of Waterlox and after reading through his comments, was turned on to Sutherland Welles Murdoch’s Table Top. It is rather pricey, but decided to take a chance on it.
But I am getting ahead of myself a bit. The above is the final protective finish and I needed to figure out how I was going to get the color I wanted from the german beech. I knew the process was going to involve aniline dyes, but I wanted the wood to start out a bit darker, similar to walnut. In my research I also came across a technique on aging or ebonising wood. It appeared that this technique would give the base wood the color I wanted to start from.
Through various tests, I settled on a process of brewing some black tea to apply to the wood in order to introduce tannins for the next step. Then was the application of the iron acetate which chemical reacts with the tannins to darken the wood. Next was an application of Transfast Dark Reddish Brown dye. This would be followed up by the application of Ruby shellac and finally, Sutherland Welles Murdoch’s Hard Sealer and Murdoch’s Table Top.
So I moved on to applying the tea, iron acetate, and dye to the base and the main body.
In order to get the best results, I decided to use my HVLP sprayer to apply the shellac. I ended up with a pretty good finish with only one spot on the back of the base having some unsightly runs. But before I applied the shellac, I finally put my logo branding iron to use for the first time. This is the first piece I have made that will carry my brand.
I applied the first two coats of the Hard Sealer and first coat of the Satin Table Top with a brush. Sutherland Welles was kind enough to send me a brush to use in applying the finish since they didn’t offer samples. I’ve heard it before, but now I know. What a difference a good brush makes!
One lesson learned with the Satin Table Top after using it on my test sample is to pay attention to the big sticker on the top that says STIR WELL BEFORE USING. The satin additives were not properly distributed and the sample did not come out satin. So I made sure the finish was properly agitated before applying it to the console. However, even though I mixed thoroughly, since I did not plunge the brush deep in the can, and did not keep string while applying it, the first coat came out somewhat streaky.
I had already planned on applying the final finish with the sprayer. This process inherently kept the satin additive adequately distributed and the final coat came out just as desired.
After the main body and base was complete, I moved on to completing the drawers and doors with the same finish process.
Check out Part 5 which shows off the finished piece.