Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

Here's the thing... getting to the point in any project where the dirty/disgusting or the practical-but-not-really-that-fun element is done is fantastic. Because that is where the pretty comes into play. Everyone likes the pretty. Everyone. Those super macho men or lazily indifferent people? Even THEY like the pretty, they just don't even realize they do.

The pretty is the part of a project where you get to do something that suddenly sheds some real-world light on an idea that previously existed only in your head. It is the first element that will be seen AFTER the project is finished.

*sniffle* The end was almost in sight!

Now... imagine getting to that point in the project, only to tear it all apart and start again.


It sucked.

Luckily, we didn't have to go through the re-sanding process. That was already done.

And to make myself feel better, I went ahead and got the lower shelf done. I can honestly say that this is probably the thing that kept me going when all I wanted to do was scream and hit Jake over the head with a piece of wood (Not that it was his fault or anything... he's just the only person generally within hitting range).

We started the shelf the same way as the counter top, by picking our wood pieces and cutting them down to size.

We started this process before the dreaded "tear it out" moment.

This time, Jake was the one who sanded the wood down to its natural state. It was only fair, since I did all of the wood for the counter. In comparison, this little baby shelf was nothing!

oo! ahh!

Once it fit in the cabinet the way that we liked, we took the boards out, flipped them upside-down, and screwed another piece of scrap wood horizontally across them. The scrap wood would (ha!) ensure the original floor boards didn't shift over time and made them one piece to install instead of four.

It was super important that we used screws short enough to not pop through the top of the shelf. 

Next was to add the edge "trim" piece.

We knew that we wanted both the shelf and the counter to look like it had some serious weight to it. One really easy way to accomplish this is by adding a piece of wood trim along the edge in the desired thickness. At a glance, the shelf will automatically look that thick.

We lined the front edge of our shelf with finishing nails that we had snipped the blunt edge off of. (This way, the finishing nails would be half in the shelf, half in the trim. All without being visible.)

Hammer the nails only about a quarter of the way down. Basically, just far enough that you know they aren't going to bend or fall out. Once you hammer the trim piece on, the nails will naturally want to go the path of least resistance, which will be further into the already created holes on the shelf side. By only hammering the nails in a little bit, you give a much greater chance of the nails going equally far into the trim. 
Next, we added a very healthy dose of wood glue:

We smeared the glue around to get more even coverage and hopefully prevent seepage. 
Finally, we carefully placed the trim where we wanted it and hammered it down onto the finishing nails. Satisfied with its placement, we turned the whole thing upside-down and stood the shelf on the trim for the night.

It was our thought that the weight of the shelf would keep enough pressure on the trim to keep it tight while the wood glue dried.

By the next evening, the shelf was one solid piece and ready for some conditioner:

Just look at all that character!!
and 30 minutes later, stain:

My biggest goal here was to make something that looked clean and polished, but still looked distinctly old.
Now, since this project happened so long ago, I can't remember if I used one or two coats of stain. Looking back at photos, I think it was only one coat. Which meant that the next evening I could start on the clear coat!!

So pretty!
After much deliberation, I opted to go with a glossy clear coat. This was mainly due to the fact that this was going in a bathroom, and the counter would constantly getting wet.

And in case you are super new:
wet + wood = a bad time. 

Adding multiple coats of a glossy finish would help to protect the wood and make any clean-up a breeze!

I wasn't sure how many coats I needed but ended up being satisfied after three. (I sanded gently in between each coat with a piece of fine sandpaper, always moving in the direction of the wood grain).

We toyed around with different ways of installing the shelf to the actual cabinet and ultimately decided to just use PL Premium (I think that's what we used. I don't have any pictures of that and can never remember what kind of caulk-like product is used for what...).

We knew that this was going to be our "linen closet" and only store towels so while it would be heavily used, it would only be used for soft, not exceptionally heavy things.

And if you remember, we built the cabinet with an open middle section (see below), this meant that the scrap wood on the underside of the shelf would fit in this open section and the whole shelf could sit snug, flat, and level.

After the shelf was installed, we put a few full paint cans on top (with paper towel protecting the finish) to add some weight over night while it dried.

Like an idiot, I didn't take a picture of the final product before immediately covering it in a black garbage bag to protect it while we continued to work on the counter. So here is the view you get:

Cropped from a larger image, which is why it's kind of blurry.
I suck at this whole blogging thing lol

My next post will explain what we did differently to finish that counter!

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