Typographic Furniture

hrant's picture

So the other day I bought this monolithic pine chest with a 3x3 arrangement of hefty drawers for $10, sanded off the [disgustingly thick] varnish and stain (man, was that a chore, even with a belt sander), and now I have a blank canvas so to speak. I've bought a nice reddish wood stain (and a matte varnish) for it, but I'd like to do something more than just restain it all one color. But I don't want to make it a freaky piece that can only be appreciated by a... freak. Any ideas? FYI, the dimensions in feet are about 3H x 6W x 2D, and it has a nice paneled top (like old wooden floors had). It was built on June 16, 1978, which is two days before I turned 10.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

Hrant, straining pine nicely actually has pretty demanding preparation.

If you just slap the stain on it will be splotchy and have an unnatural looking 'zebra' effect as well. Really quite ugly and very disappointing. To get a nice result you need to hand sand down with progressively finer sand paper, to avoid the splotchiness. Then you need to first put on a pre-treatment - do they call it 'conditioner' - that soaks in an prevents the stain from being too different on the summer and winter wood and getting the zebra effect. Then when you stain it will get a lovely natural look with the glow of the deeper color.

Get a book on it for the details.

This is enough bother and the result lovely enough that you may not want to do more.

dezcom's picture

>To get a nice result you need to hand sand down with progressively finer sand paper, to avoid the splotchiness.<

But won't that destroy the Bouma?
:->

Thomas Phinney's picture

Zara:

"Nobody could do that much decoupage without the powers of darkness."
- Anya about Martha Stewart on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

Thomas Phinney's picture

Personally, I find Martha Stewart more frightening than any Buffy episode. But that's just me. :-)

So, you didn't think I'd be a Buffy fan, eh? Seeing as I am immensely fond of women who kick butt, and I enjoy fantasy and SF, it was pretty much a slam-dunk for me. I saw the original movie in the theater, and watched the series premiere when it was first broadcast.

"Come on in! There's plenty of blood in the fridge."
- Spike

hrant's picture

> I am immensely fond of women who kick butt

Same here! Especially when they have a sense of humor. For example I didn't like Alias's Sydney - she was always "oh, poor me". And Xena was a little bit too dumb. But Nikita was special - and the "bad" women in that series always ruled. I like Buffy too, although I prefer Kristy Swanson in the original movie - Gellar is a bit too homey. My favorite line of Swanson's: "But you threw a DAGGER at my HEAD."

Martha Stewart? Burn her at the stake.

--

Ontopicness soon.

hhp

hrant's picture

Wait, I think she says "knife", not "dagger".

hhp

Thomas Phinney's picture

I knew that given enough time, Hrant and I would find *something* we agree on. Kinda like the infinite monkeys thing.

(Just kidding. I think this is at least the second or third time we've agreed on something!)

T

dan's picture

Can Buffy come here on Monday. I think we will have lots of work for her here when the elephants arrive.

ivan_melendez's picture

Hey Hrant, I remember I used to take a cinder block and roll it all arount the piece of furniture to it give scratches and dents for character. Then after staining and applying the finish I would rub black bee's wax with a cloth all-over, this would fill in all the "inperfections" with the wax and make it look aged. Than after a while just buff the surface so it will get an nice sheen. I was also told shoe polish is a good substitute.

Sometimes I like to use crackling medium on furniture. Once dry, you can apply black wax to fill in the gaps then wipe the excess off with a clean rag.

IM

pablohoney77's picture

sanded off the [disgustingly thick] varnish and stain (man, was that a chore, even with a belt sander)

you shoulda used a stripper ;^)

Re: girls kicking butt: my personal fave is/was Jessica Alba as Max in Fox's Dark Angel. too bad the second season killed the series.... ah well. oh and Martha Stewart fills in the #2 spot in this category for me.

dezcom's picture

Fredrik,
LOL!!! Is that a Bouma-rang?
:-)

pablohoney77's picture

oh and for all you Buffy fans out there... here's another typographical link: Kevin King has some Buffy inspired fonts at his website. Check out Xander and Spike.

porky's picture

Given Buffy had a spinoff series of Angel, does that mean Hrant is going to be on the lookout for matching pine nested occasional tables too? ;)

pablohoney77's picture

Once you finish your chest, you'll need a typographic lamp to finish off the room.
(I saw this in DWR last night and was fascinated by it)

hrant's picture

{In reverse-chrono.}

$980. Design Within Reach. Right.

--

Fredrik, that's too much.
http://www.buffyworld.com/angel/season1/transcripts/06_tran.shtml
My favorite line: "That Papazian is planning something."

I bet Thomas is deathly jealous I'm on a Buffy link.

--

William, thanks for the advice. I went over the whole thing with a finer grain sandpaper. I'll research the conditioner too. Question: if I start staining it but then decide it's not going well, can I still paint over it (I'm eyeing a dark burgundy) as long as I haven't varnished it? And what about water-based versus oil-based stains?

--

Zara, that foreign newspaper idea is simply brilliant. I already have Korean, Armenian, French, Dutch, Arabic, Thai, Spanish, Greek and Chinese in storage.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

You can always paint over it, as long as you use the compatible paint - oil or water based, as the case may be. I don't remember about oil vs. water based stains. The main thing is that the varnish will have to be compatible with the undercoat. The conditioner thing (if I remember the name right) is specifically for pine. As it is a soft wood, pine really sponges up the stain, which is why it is tricky to stain. The conditioner pre-soaks it somewhat, so you don't get such a stark contrast.

If you do decide to go the stain route, try the process first on a raw wood pine board, so you will have an idea about the result, and whether you like it. Once you stain if you don't like it you can only paint it over or resand. The staining and varnishing is really simple - the headache is preparation

I took the trouble to look into this stuff when I stained some window frames and a door, as I knew I'd have to live with it for a long time. Doing it right really did make a huge difference. Now when I see pine stained wrong -blotchy, streaked - it screams out at me.

hrant's picture

> window frames

Interesting - we had a wooden bay window put in a few years ago, and the contractor had a hell of a time getting the stain to look good. Now I realize it must've been that it was pine.

hhp

hrant's picture

So I tried the stain on part of it, and it came out as complete mierda. Guano. Caput. Even though I sanded the whole thing down with a finer grain. And I don't want to bother with a conditioner - it's not like I'm some kind of Beverly Hills furniture coiffeur.

So Zara, could please tell me more about decoupage? Do I use some kind of watery glue?

But I'm gonna think about this for another few days - so I'm still open to more original ideas. Like any angle on the 3x3 grid of drawers?

hhp

kennmunk's picture

Great how this turned into a buffy thread.
I've always liked the corny dialogue like:
'Let's get to the partying part of the, ehh, party.'

Please, do not slap decourpage on to a nice piece of furniture, that's like putting little umbrellas in beer.

hrant's picture

Questions:
- How easily does decoupage come off? I mean intentionally.
- Does it need to be protected with varnish, or does the glue somehow do that by itself?
- If I want to apply a translucent color on top, do I just use watered-down [water-based] paint? Watered down with water or paint thinner? What about Perrier? ;-)

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>And I don't want to bother with a conditioner - it's not like I'm some kind of Beverly Hills furniture coiffeur.

Don't want to listen to old Bill, eh? The conditioner is cheap and takes a two minutes to put on. You got exactly what I said if you didn't use the conditioner-a mess.

type's picture

The conditioner thing

Prime. my friend. prime. primer

Use a conditioner when you're going to take a bath. :-)

matteson's picture

Do I use some kind of watery glue?

Never having done decoupage, I'm no expert. But for gluing paper, I always recommend YES! glue. Good stuff that doesn't wrinkle paper like Elmer's typically does.

If I want to apply a translucent color on top, do I just use watered-down [water-based] paint?

I wouldn't water it down. In my art school hay-days, I used to make my own acrylic paint with Rhoplex AC33 acrylic emulsion. You could add a small amount of store-bought acrylic paint into a base of AC33 for a translucent color. Or you can add raw pigment into AC33.

This sort of thing can be done with matte medium or whatever, but I found AC33 to be a much better solution.

So I tried the stain on part of it, and it came out as complete mierda ... I don't want to bother with a conditioner

Have you ever used sanding sealer? With some [softer] woods, it can help to give you a more even finish. This may be akin to what William refers to as a conditioner.

A side note: there are 2 additives that improve the brushability of paint. Floetrol for water-based (latex) and Penetrol for oil-based. I've never used them in anything other than house-painting, but they may improve your surface somewhat. In house-painting they make a rolled surface looked professionally sprayed, and a brushed surfaced look rolled. They may well make a finger-painted surface looked brushed, but I've never tried.

William Berkson's picture

>Prime. my friend. prime. primer

Minwax who I think are the biggest producers of this kind of stuff, call the product pre-stain conditioner. I don't think there is one standard name for it. Primer usually refers to stuff that seals the surface, which this stuff doesn't. The main thing is, as I said, to read the directions and to do a test treatment on a scrap piece of the same species of wood to see how you like the result, and so don't mess up your project.

hrant's picture

William, I thought you said you weren't sure about the conditioner business? Anyway, I went to the store again and saw the conditioner/primer/sanding_sealer/whatever, and it sounds like it would help a lot. But the guy there said I should try something easier first*: stain gel. Apparently it's something that sits on the surface more than being absorbed a lot, so the guy thought it's worth a shot. Anyway, I tried it a short while ago, and it certainly looks better than the regular stain I tried before, but I don't know if it's good enough. The conditioner might need to be called in after all. This is such a pain - it's making me nostalgic for the simple pleasures of power sanding...

* Because I don't think the conditioner would take "two minutes", William.

BTW, Nathan just gave me an idea:
If I take like a reddish-brown paint, dilute it down and just paint that on, wouldn't it give color to the wood while still letting the grain show through? Some sort of faux stain thing? Maybe that's what that gel stuff is doing...

One other thing: it would be really good if somebody found a typographic angle to this woodshop stuff - I feel pretty guilty! :-/

hhp

type's picture

a typographic angle

Typographic Futuraniture

or

(ITC) Leawood

or

Lining Plate Gothic

or

Souvenir Gothic

William Berkson's picture

>William, I thought you said you weren't sure about the conditioner business?

No, I was very clear about the need for pre treatment of pine and the need to read up on it and test before you actually do it. I just wasn't certain about the name - but my memory was correct. And yes, the pre-stain conditioner just takes minutes, because it just soaks in and that's it. There's no finess required. All the sanding takes time and care, but not this. The staining doesn't take that much time either. The sanding and then the final finishing take the time - if you want to do a classic type of finish.

matteson's picture

Despite the fact that I used to get messy with a bunch of emulsions & dispersions in school, I'm no master of the chemistry behind these things. That said however, I'm not sure I'd try this:

If I take like a reddish-brown paint, dilute it down and just paint that on

I'm pretty sure that the pigments in stain are different than the pigments in paint -- perhaps more importantly, I believe the suspension of the pigments in solution is of a different nature. And it collects in the grain of the wood quite differently. Stain brings out the wood grain,while paint obscures it.

That said, if you want to use paint, make sure you use transparent red. E.g., Alizarin Crimson is transparent, while Cadmium Red is opaque. I think that Alizarin will let the grain show through, while Cadmium may not.

Zara Evens's picture

I love using decoupage techniques to cover blank surfaces, such as furniture. You may want to find some interesting old papers, newsprint preferrably

Zara Evens's picture

I'm not sure which is more frightening:
my Martha-esque nature (yes I admit it), or that you just quoted Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
:-)

Stephen Coles's picture

Zara and I did the decoupage to a bookshelf the other day. (Keep
in mind, noting Kenn, it was an ugly bookshelf that I was about to toss).
It was very fun work. Yes, watery glue. We just used diluted
Elmer's and tissue papers acquired in Chinatown.

deco1 deco2
deco3 deco4

Zara Evens's picture

Stephen, you beat me to it. I was just about to upload the same photos.

Hrant, I use watered down glue

Zara Evens's picture

You could go so far as to chisel out your own letters into the wood, then apply the stain. Could completely ruin the piece, but it might be fun trying.

Z.

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