Well, that’s just nutty!

I muscled the base into the back of the car and drove it to the main garage (i. e. finishing room) without managing to do any damage. At least none that I could see. (memo to self: next project, use balsa wood!) A final sanding with 180 grit then a wipe down with a tack cloth and we’re ready to finish the base. Ideally, I would finish the base and top together, to make sure they are consistent, but I don’t have the space for that. I’ll finish the base while I’m working on the top, then move the top in for its finishing.

Normally, I am an big exponent of a natural finish, letting the wood’s natural beauty shine through. That’s how I finished my own dining table of QSWO. And, being under some skylights has really brought out the wood’s depth and chatoyence  over the years. However, this table is going into an older home, with dark, stained oak trim, floors, and, of course, the buffet. A natural finish would be out of place. Fuming is out of the question. Its bad enough riding by when farmers put ammonia on their fields, I don’t relish choking. Their are many recipes for a faux-fumed, traditional Arts and Crafts look, many involving multiple color steps: dyeing, sealing, adding filler, sealing, staining, sealing again, glazing, sealing, top coating, waxing… and on and on and on. I sometimes think people try to make it more arcane than it needs to be, not that the results from those methods are bad, I just don’t think its necessary. 

My recipe (not really mine, Bob Flexner writes about it) goes back to authentic, early century, alternatives to fuming. In some of the original how-to articles on Mission furniture (c. 1909), they talk about using an asphaltum varnish. Luckily, that formula is already available commercially in dark walnut Danish Oil, put out by a few different companies (I’m using Watco). I flood the surface, let it sit for about a half hour, apply another coat, let it sit for another 15 minutes, then wipe everything down, leaving nothing on the surface. (Making sure to go back in a few hours to wipe down any areas that has come up while sitting, as with all danish oils. Usually around joints. And then back again to rewipe. And then back again….. STOP POOLING!) When this dries (I like to give Danish Oil a few days to dry), I’ll seal with a thin coat of dewaxed orange shellac, then finish with some coats of a wipe on poly. I don’t predetermiune the number of coats, I just keep adding coats until I get the buildup and look that I like. Since this is a dining table, I want to make sure the top is well protected. 

Hmmm, maybe I should’ve just used walnut to begin with?!?


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