After installing the outer trim, I filled any small gaps with an easy homemade wood filler. You can find how to make it in this post. I then sanded both sides and prepared the surfaces for staining. We decided to use General Finishes Java Gel Stain. It was our first time using gel stain, so we didn’t really know what to expect. People had been singing its praises online, but we’d also encountered many god-awful, hack-job pieces of furniture at tag sales and vintage shops that had been butchered by incompetent gel stainers. I hoped we wouldn’t join that list!
First things first. Open the can.
Then, a thought. Maybe I should read the directions?
But reading is getting harder these days, especially in the immediate vicinity of my eyeballs. So as I stretched to find a comfortable viewing distance, Handan laughed at me and took pictures. What a woman!
When she’s a wrinkled old bat hobbling around with a cane (which, let’s be honest here, isn’t very far off), I’ll get my revenge by replacing the rubber cane tip with a frictionless ball tip, heheheh.
Once I had deciphered the tiny print, I set to work with a foam brush and then immediately wiped it off with a rag. Java is a dark color, so I wanted to wipe it off right away, just in case it was too dark.
The color we got was pretty good.
But is wasn’t dark enough. So then I got to reading, and I learned how gel stains should be used.
Gel stains, since they are thicker than regular stains, tend to sit on the surface of the wood instead of absorbing into it like thin stains do. To get the deep, rich color, I decided to leave a little on the wood for the second coat. I brushed it on liberally with the foam brush, but instead of wiping away all of the excess with a clean cloth, I started wiping away with the same spot of cloth. Once the cloth was saturated with stain, I kept wiping with the saturated spot. This thinned out the stain on the wood, but still left a thin layer on top. This is where you can run into trouble, if you’re not careful. Improper wiping technique can lead to noticeable streaking, blotches, drips, runs and all sorts of unsightly outcomes. But if you do it just right, you get unparalleled color, as you’ll see in a minute.
I had ordered custom glass for the doors and the shelves.
Once the stain was dry, I installed the glass to check the fit and to start making the inside trim.
Look at the color of those doors now! The General Finishes Java Gel Stain is awesome! Also pictured is the trim that I used for the inside of the doors. I followed the same procedure as the outer trim. When the pieces were cut, I didn’t glue them just yet, as we first wanted to hang the doors without the glass, as it was heavy, and it would make the door-hanging more difficult.
We ordered hinges from House of Antique Hardware. While we waited for them to arrive, we stained the cabinet with the java gel stain.
The picture below shows unstained wood on the left, wet stain in the middle and wiped stain on the right.
I highly recommend General Finishes Java Gel Stain for all of your wooden boob staining needs. What a decorative décolletage she has! Now that’s a bust you can trust!
After we stained the cabinet, I went to Parkerville Wood Products to buy a new backing. I chose 1/4 inch red oak plywood, as it had a cool grain pattern that was similar to the rest of the piece. I checked the fit. Perfect.
I brought the plywood into the basement and stained it.
Before nailing the backing into place, we first wanted to install the lights and the doors. It’s much easier to work on an open cabinet!
To install the lights, I drilled a hole into the top part of the back. I was pretty sure it was hollow, and if so, we’d be able to run the wires up and out the back, so they wouldn’t be seen.
Sure enough, it was hollow, so we measured and marked where the lights would go and where to drill the hole in the inside ceiling for the wire.
We would be using some old round LED lights we got at IKEA a few years before. Here is Handan showing the light placement.
We’d take care of that ugly cord in a minute.
But first, as is always the case when working with Handan, I had to be assaulted by the camera.
She thought the pencils sticking out of my hat were “cute,” so she wanted to take pictures of me. BAH! I’m not cute! I’m a galumphing troll! By the way, that Budweiser sign on the wall behind me is the last remaining thing that belonged to the previous owners. It has hung there on the garage wall, crooked, for nearly 5 years. This summer it will come down, as we will be doing…(what for it)…A GARAGE MAKEOVER! [insert wild cheering here]
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