Monday, January 02, 2017

New Year holiday project

This year's holiday project is a headboard for my upstairs bedroom. I have a 1950 1 1/2 story house; it's a huge room, compared to the size of the other rooms of the house (other than the living room) and since it's a 1 1/2 story, I have slanted ceiling and knee walls.  The bed goes up against the knee wall, which is about 45". The bed being 29" doesn't allow for sitting up against the wall/headboard, but what the hell, I'm building one anyway. 

Pallet wood, of course. I found a couple of pallets that were 7' wide, 1x6 boards. I did consider making it wide enough for a King sized bed, should I decide to buy one of that size when I buy a new bed. Then I remembered how much fun it is to get the queen sized mattress up the stairs and....considered the cost of buying all new sheets, and built the thing queen sized. 

Found something fun in one of the boards: 

Look at that....I can put the pics side by side to take up less space. I didn't spend too long analyzing the wood, just found the anomaly to be interesting. I cut the smaller piece off the bigger piece, and nailed it onto my project. I really like the look of the heartwood/sapwood and knot. 

I built the frame of the thing from 2x4, using pocket holes/screws. Screwed the boards to the frame, sanded, stained and varnished. I plan to add LEDs to it, when they arrive. I still have some, but what I have are waterproof and what are coming are not. I don't think I need waterproof LEDs on my headboard...and I'll refrain from making suggestive comments or innuendos. 
Cost: 16 1 5/8" screws, 8 2 1/2" pocket screws, 1 stain brush, 1 varnish brush, electricity. 

The stain I got free, from when I worked at the paint store. When we'd match stain for a customer, we'd start with the closest colour and add the various tints to make it match. Of course, sometimes you need more space in the can, so we'd dip some stain out before starting, and put it into a bucket.....and when that bucket was full, I saved it because the colour was good. That was more than 20 years ago.

The varnish I get free from the county recycle center, people drop off unwanted paint or chemicals, the county gives it away...just stop in and pick up what you want from what they have. I've gotten stain, varnish, spray lacquer, contact cement, paint, paint thinner, and I've not taken lots more stuff that I don't garden chemicals, etc.

I use cheap "chip brushes", available at Menard's, the paint store and even Harbor Freight. They are a natural bristle brush, and I only use them for oil based stuff, throwing them into my scrap bin when I'm done with them. If I have another project coming up soon that needs varnish, I'll wrap it with plastic and put it in the freezer, and sometimes the stain brush can be reused several times. 

Lots of people think the foam brush gives good results, but they get torn up very quickly on these pallet boards. And, they don't give good results with varnish, and lacquer dissolves them. Fun to watch....but not helpful with a project. 

I recall from the paint store lots of people complaining about getting a poor looking finish. There's lots of variables. But you can get a decent finish with a cheap brush....Here's a few do and don't do suggestions. 

  • Don't scrape the brush across the top of the can. The best way to remove excess paint or varnish from the brush is to tap the sides of the can with the loaded brush. Obviously you can only do this once the can isn't full. When the can is full, I just let it drip a bit before moving it to the project.
  • Don't brush too fast or "overbrush". Making lots of short fast strokes is never good (with varnish). Long slow smooth strokes is the way to go.
  • Keep the brush at a shallow angle to the project, most of the time. At the very end, you can hold it at 90* barely touching the surface.
  • Keep a light at the end of the item, so you can look down the surface to see if you missed a spot, if there's a place where you put on too much, if a hair came out of the brush, etc. 
  • DON'T shake varnish. Don't stir gloss varnish. Stir satin gently, and only as much as it needs. Much like making pancakes or biscuits.
  • Do keep a wet edge. Meaning: if you have a long board or several long boards, do the length of the board instead of just what you can reach. This is more important when staining a deck in the hot sun, rather than varnishing in a cool basement. can wind up with shiny spots or dark spots or visible thicker spots, or faded spots once the paint on the south side of your shed fades.
I generally put on a coat of gloss spar varnish, for a couple reasons. I like the colour of's got more of an amber colour, which gives the project a rich finish. Gloss, because you usually put on a couple coats, right? Satin has flatteners in it, which build up and look like dull plastic, because that's what it is. A couple coats of gloss, sanded and a coat of satin gives it a great finish. Trust me. 

2nd coat of Pratt and Lambert spar varnish, and my stain brush and varnish brush. Looks like I missed a spot on that 2nd board from the right. :( Even though I looked down the board at the lights at the other end of the basement. Several times.

Comments, questions, suggestions?

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