Friday, October 05, 2012


Sh*t got done today! And I'm quite happy to report with photos, too!

Work has been slow lately (not in a good way, either), so we got a 4 day weekend (Monday is Thanksgiving here in Canada). Since I had the day off today, but I knew my boss and his son were going to be in (for phone calls or in case any clients might drop in), I decided it would be a perfect time to do the finishing on my vanity.

I got in to work at my usual time (7:15), and I only left near 2:00pm. I had everything set to be able to do the wet/sand/stain/seal/sand/glaze/lacquer on the vanity (yes those are all the steps involved to get the look I want), but unfortunately, a wrench got thrown into my plans, and Léo (boss) told me that I wouldn't be able to use the spray booth today since the fan belt was busted.

I was still able to do the wet/stain/seal portion of the project, but I was pretty bummed that I wouldn't be able to fully finish the vanity this week.

The stain I decided to use (for the first time) is a water based Aniline Dye. This is a powdered dye that you mix with hot water to make a stain. The amount of powder you use determines the intensity of the colour, and you can mix and match different powders to create just about any colour you want.

Water based dyes have drawbacks (as do traditional oil based stains). One of these is that you need to pre-wet the entire project, and leave it to dry (which took less than an hour - surprisingly), then re-sand the whole thing. This is to pre-raise the grain, before the stain goes on, to eliminate a rough finish, since water swells the wood and gives it a rough texture.

The actual staining was also a bit more of a challenge than a traditional stain. I have about 10+ years experience with stains and finishes, so I didn't have too much trouble, but a novice would have had a nightmare of a time getting a beautiful, even colour.

The instructions suggest staining a light "first coat", followed by a second, stronger coat, but I skipped this, going straight to the full-strength colour with no issues.

It's a lot more work than with a regular stain, but I think the results are more than worth the trouble, especially when dealing with figured woods (curled grain, bird's eye, etc). The dye REALLY makes the variances in the grain POP, unlike a regular stain, which more often than not, will mask the grain, and make things come out more even and "blah".

Here's a teaser photo of the finishing up to this point. The colour is not 100% accurate, since this was in bright light, and with fresh (wet) sealer applied. There will also be a dark glaze added in the cracks/crevices, which will be the next step.

The actual colour is less orange, and appears darker (see other photos below, where the vanity is in the background).

Look at that magnificent grain! I showed it to Léo, and he wasn't that fussy about it, which kind of surprised me. What do you think? Gorgeous, or is it just "too much"?

So while I was working on that, and in between stuff drying, I decided to finally build the doors I need for the rest of the built-ins. These would be the two glass doors for the office display case built-in, and the door for the linen closet upstairs.

Here's the set of 2 doors for the office. They will have some sort of fancy glass insert that I'll make at some point. (Note vanity):

Here's the linen closet door. I'm actually not happy with how it turned out. In hind sight, the frames should have been thicker, and I should have done 5 panels, but it's too late, and I'm not making another one. Once it's painted and installed I'm sure it will look just fine. I STRUGGLED with the decision between raised panels (like the vanity door above), or flat panels, like the original house doors. I decided to go with flat panels for all the built-ins. This will match the little mini door in the office, too. More than likely, I'll also go with flat panels on the new house doors (same as the originals), but when it comes to the kitchen cabinets, those I'll do with raised ones the same as the vanity. That seemed like the best plan.

Lastly, I did some shopping. I went and picked up some black-out fabric (4m/yards) for my roman blinds (which was only 1.50$/m). I also picked up 4 Velcro strips (on sale 50% off) to use along the top of each curtain panel, so that they can be yanked-off and cleaned. In total, that cost only 14$!

I also popped-in to Zellers and had a look around (they had a bunch of stuff on sale, too). They had some nice bedding sets on sale and I REALLY wanted to buy this particular set (with birds), but they only had it in a double.

But I did end up getting a different one. It's brown with a bluish grey pattern that looks a bit reminiscent of Gothic scrollwork. This one wasn't on sale, but the set was only 49.99$ (no photo yet).


  1. I always loved the look of birds-eye, and your stain job only works to enhance its appeal :)

  2. I love the finish on the vanity, and think you're being too hard on yourself regarding the linen closet doors. Both look great, and will look even more fantastic once they're installed!

    1. Probably, but I'm really picky with details and proportions. The only thing that will "save" the door from looking odd will be the fact that it will have a lot of wide white trim around it. I'm looking forward to installing it.