Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mini Steamer

While finishing the cribbage board project and also the bookshelf project, I once again saw this wooden box sitting on my workbench. I had started it probably a couple years ago out of some leftover oak from a project but messed up with the top. I think I was planning on making an inset top for it but when I rabbited the long pieces, I went through the end material leaving notches that would look like giant pimples in each corner. I had other things to do so I used this box to store some of my pen making supplies in on my workbench. For whatever reason, when I noticed it once again sitting there all stained and dirty, an image popped into my head. I thought perhaps I could turn it into a miniature steamer trunk. I cut off the top part with the pimple-like notches and rabbits so I had a smooth surface to work with.

Using some scrap oak, I made a domed top for the box and with lots of trimming, sanding, filling in defects, more sanding and staining, I still wasn't happy. Oak doesn't take stain very well and I was wanting a richer and darker look to it to make it seem old. Normally when staining something, I brush it on thick and then wipe it off after ten minutes or so. After doing this four times, it was still way lighter than I wanted so I did a fifth time differently. This time I just stood there and kept brushing the stain with a foam brush every few minutes to make sure it stayed uniform but never wiped it off. I ended up with the color I was looking for but I had to live with a few imperfections in the stain where it was thicker or thinner in places. I found some antique bronze hardware to attach to it which looks good. The handles that came with it were way too big to attach to the sides like a true steamer trunk so instead I just put one handle on top and moved the two cinch clasps to the sides. I didn't use any of the metal corners that came with the kit because they just didn't look proportionate to the box. They were meant for a full sized steamer box. I'll just save them for a future project.

All in all, I am happy with how it turned out but I still haven't figured out what to do with my mini-steamer trunk yet. I made a lockable trunk about this size for my oldest daughter to put all her 'valuable' baubles that young kids collect so perhaps I will give this to our youngest in a couple years for her stuff. Until then, I need to find a way to use it other than as a large door stop. But at least it is off my workbench which is now clean except for one toy loader project I never seem to finish.


sage said...

Nice work!

Ed said...

Sage - Thanks!

warren said...

I'd use it to store the metal corners that you didn't use!

Rich said...

I used to watch a show years ago that mainly dealt with wood finishing and upholstery (now that's a show that would appeal to a broad audience) and they had a technique they used a lot to create a faux-antique-type of finish that might have worked on your project. I wish I could remember the name of the show, but it was two guys from Pittsburgh who started on a local PBS station before moving to TLC(?).

Basically, they'd stain the wood, let it dry, put on a thinned down varnish, then wet-sand that varnish and put on another layer of stain. After a few times doing that, you can put your final finish coat on.

The layers of stain and finish create more depth to the finish, and if you add in different stains (something like a combination of Golden Oak and Cherry, etc.) you can create a more "rich" layering. They'd also mix a little stain into the varnish at times.

I've used the technique in the past and it will give you a "deeper" finish (it works great for a quick re-finishing job), but I'd experiment a little before trying it on a finished wood working project.

Rich said...

It turns out that after a quick online search that the show was called The Furniture Guys, and they were form Philadelphia.

Some of the shows look like they are on YouTube:

Ed said...

Warren - Funny you should say that but that is exactly where they are right now!

Rich - I'll definitely have to give that a try. Most of what I have to work with is oak which doesn't stain well. If I use mahogany I can get the color I'm looking for but I am paying twice the cost of oak. I almost always am looking for a darker, richer stain. Thanks for the name. I'll have to go check them out.