I ripped the plunge router from its box, slammed a bit into place and jammed the plug into an electrical outlet. I held the machine above my head, flipped on the power and let out a primal scream. I advanced on the stencil, a hunter stalking its prey. I closed to striking distance. The router bit quivered and my lip trembled in anticipation. I thrust forward, eyes wide and teeth bared. I stopped.
What the hell was I doing? I looked at the router, a stranger in a strange hand.
My eyes focused. The fog lifted. The garden slug screamed and fled once more.
I’d never used a plunge router before. I’d never done any decorative routing before. Shouldn’t I at least practice first? I had an extra stencil, so I slapped it on a piece of scrap wood. I pulled up a chair and bent over the wood, new machine in hand. I switched on the router and made my first cut.
Damn, this thing is hard to move! Crikey, I can barely see what I’m doing! Better get my magnifying goggles. Jeezum Crow! Now everything is so big, I feel like my hands are shaking! Argh! Dammit, I went outside the stencil line!
Ah, screw this!
I switched off my new plunge router and tossed the test piece in the trash. Precision routing was difficult, and I had only one shot at this thing. I couldn’t risk it. There would be no inlay. I needed a new plan. I looked at the stencil. The black looked pretty good against the mahogany. Perhaps a black stencil, then?
But first, I would paint the frame and the drawers!
I had a vision of a black wine bar with a blazing red mahogany bar top – a manly thing wreathed in testosterone and Cuban cigar smoke. I went to Home Depot and browsed through their library of 6.2 trillion colors. After viewing only a few hundred billion, I stumbled upon a promising candidate: Warm Onyx. Warm Onyx.
Now that’s a color name that radiates Manliness but tempered by Sensitivity. It’s the Barry White of paint colors. Aw, yeah. I paint my bar that color, and the neighborhood ladies will be lining up at the front door! Handan will be beating them off with a bat!
I got a quart and lit out for home.
Since it was a complicated piece to paint, I knew that a sprayer was the way to go, but as I’ve said before: I’m all angles and elbows when it comes to paint sprayers. They might as well be sewing machines. But, I bucked up and grabbed the sprayer. Handan was on hand to give me pointers and photograph my folly.
I sized up my adversary.
I moved in for the first strike.
That face, though.
And what happened next is a story best told by my face. I’ve cropped the rest out. The face says it all.
The pieces lay strewn across the battlefield. As the sun set in the west, the vultures circled overhead.
We packed the pieces into the garage, and there they sat for the next three months.
What was I thinking? Black wine bar? Neighborhood ladies in negligees on my doorstep? Cuban cigars? Handan with a baseball bat?
I slapped myself and charted a new course.
Well, if black (or turd color) wasn’t working, maybe white was the ticket. Handan always has some of her world-famous chalky paint mixed up and color-matched to Old White, so I figured I’d give it a try. By this time, I’d also mastered the art of the power sprayer. I’ll give you a brief tutorial.
Step 1: Sneak up on your project.
Step 2: Check for predators.
Step 3: Attack! Aim and fire!
Step 4: Attack from above!
Step 5: Attack from below!
Step 6: Grab a beer and know you’ve just done a helluva great job painting your project!
Handan and I carried the frame back to the basement so I could carry on building the bar tops. I gathered more mahogany scraps for the upper bar.
Next, I cut some pieces for the sides, then glued and clamped them.
Then I turned my attention back to the lower bar top. Handan suggested we paint the stencil with patina. I had my doubts, but I deferred to her wisdom.
When we peeled off the vinyl, the stencil shone with filaments of azure light. This paint is amazing – it is the Aegean Sea in a bottle.
I took the two bar tops over to my finishing bench and started applying my secret weapon – the thing that would make the mahogany and the stencil pop. Here’s a little sneak preview.
Meanwhile, in another part of the
sweatshop workshop, Handan was applying the wine label collages to the sides of the cabinet. First a little Mod Podge…
…then she pressed it into its place.
Click on ‘Page 2 of 2’ below to continue.