After you’ve designed and tested your project, you’re probably sick to death of it. But now is the time the work really begins – building and applying a finish.
This is the time you need the most patience and attention to detail. You certainly wouldn’t want to have wasted all the effort of perfecting the look on paper and making sure it will work in the real world with your testing.
Carefully select the lumber you plan to use (buy it a week or more before you plan to build so the lumber can acclimate to the conditions in your shop). Sort through the bins at your supplier for the best possible pieces. If your project is going to be stained, look for consistent color and grain patterns. Buy a little more than you’ll need too – just in case you have a mishap or two, and for testing the stain you plan to use.
Which leads me to the next item – don’t jump right into apply a stain on your project. Test it on the a scrap piece from the build – a cutoff or a scrap rip – so you’ll know how the stain will look.
I won’t get into the assembly too much – your test build should handle that – but be sure to cover the basics like checking for square (if applicable), proper sanding (with the grain, progress from coarse grit to a finer grit), and scraping off and residual glue. Any glue left on the project will cause discoloration once the stain is applied.
Be sure when you fill nail/brad holes, etc., that you use a wood filler that’s close to the color of the stain you plan to use, not the wood. Wood filler does not absorb stain as well as wood.
Use a pre-stain conditioner (follow the directions on set time) to achieve a consistent stain finish throughout the project, and shine a shop light across the project to make sure you’ve applied an even finish. One last little finish check – position the project in the location you plan to keep it in your home and see how it looks. You can sand and re-stain if necessary.
The projects below are the final versions of the project sketch and test build in the previous blogs. Notice that they combine both stain and paint.