It’s Good to Know People : The Laundry Room Counters Begin

So, I get migraines. I’m great at coping – almost to the point that I think people don’t realize how much pain I am actually in because I refuse to hibernate with one. Which, is a bad plan because they last longer. But I don’t like to learn. ANYWAY, we had a schedule we were trying to stick to with the laundry room, and it was time to get the wood for the counters, and I was OUT. There was no way. Thanks, Migraine. I told Doug : “You know what I want. Just get something pretty.” And I went to sleep. He came home with sheets of Maple that are GORGEOUS. This picture is actually the bad side.

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Inside the room, we put up ledger boards where there aren’t cabinets to support the countertop.

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Doug and Edgar used the front porch as a shop, and PERFECTLY cut the pieces of wood. Not only are we making countertops in the obvious areas, but we are adding wood on top of the washer and dryer, and on top of the upper cabinets as a shelf, AND a long shelf for the wall. It’s a lot of wood.

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The dry-fit went perfectly, because that’s what happens when Purdue Grads do all the measuring. Boiler Up. They look wimpy in the dry-fit (the counters, not Doug and Edgar), but in reality the counters will have a trim on the front to make them look to be 1.5″ thick.

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My turn! Time for finishing, which is my FAVORITE thing to do (after chandeliers). In case you weren’t sure how much wood is ACTUALLY going in this tiny room, here it is. None of these pictures are duplicates. This is a lot of finishing…..

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I’m READY for it. I started with sanding, and then a wood conditioner, which I usually do when I am working with new wood.

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And then I started staining. And this is where things went south. When the stain went on, it was the gorgeous dark color I wanted.

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When it came off, however, it was not gorgeous. It was the first coat. No problem! It often takes more. I did more. And more. And it didn’t take more stain.

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So, then I researched finishing Maple. Now, I know what you’re thinking : a logical person would have done this first, or at least done a test. I never test wood. And I’ve never been unhappy with something. Playing with the shades and the depth and the colors is so fun. I have always been good at it.

Oh, not this time.

The internets Agree : Maple is really hard. It will only take one round of stain, and then it’s done.


I really, really didn’t want to paint them. But I wasn’t going to get new wood, especially since this was already measured and cut to perfection. I threw out an SOS online and asked if anyone knew anything about dyeing wood – because my research said that’s what I would have to do. Joseph, the father of one of my former students, saved the day. He does AMAZING custom carpentry with his business, The Trim Wright. We talked on the phone – or rather, he talked, and I listened and took THREE PAGES OF NOTES. Seriously – he took me through the history of wood finishing in New England and how that relates to today. It was fascinating, and I realized that this process would be much more involved, but I had the skills to do it now. I am so, so thankful to him! And, I can’t wait to visit his massive shop when I need some woodwork done – he can replicate any trim we have in the house to make repairs or replicas. SO AMAZING.

I will go more into the process in the next post, but I’ll take you through making a sample. YES I MADE A SAMPLE. There is a first for everything. Ugh. I’m such a sell-out. We bought the dye at Rockler, which is a giant candy store for woodworkers. I love it, and everytime I’m there I want to buy a lathe and just make batons ALL OF THE TIME. I used TransTint, which Joseph recommended. You can play with the depth and color as you add it to Denatured Alcohol. I was a bit worried about doing this indoors, but it wasn’t bad at all. CHEMISTRY!

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I sanded the wood with 120 and 180 sandpaper, and mixed the dye little by little.

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In started at the far end of the test board, and kept going until I like the color – which, nicely, was the entire bottle of dye in a gallon of alcohol. (I really, really hope someone looking for cocktails googles “gallon of alcohol” and stumbles onto my blog. Welcome, Cocktail Makers!)

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Step Two : Stain it, for depth of color!

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Step Three : Shellac it! Joseph recommend making my own shellac, but I decided I was already doing enough new techniques, that I was going to just focus on the dye and leave the shellac-making for another project. Pre-made it is. I’m a wimp.

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Step Four will be a top coat. Again, and again, and again. But this wasn’t dry enough yet to put on the top coat.

The result? SO MUCH WIN! This isn’t two pictures – I know it looks that way, but that “white line” is actually the edge of the test board – it’s actually the test board laying on top of the first-try stain. I can’t thank Joe enough, and we’ll see what happens when I actually start the HUGE process of doing everything. Tomorrow, hopefully!!!

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It’s good to know people.

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