Doors and Dyes.

I’ve started the finishing work on the apothecary cabinet, and I’m really excited so far! It’s not done yet, but the first steps of finishing it have happened!

Just a quick reminder (since it’s been so long), here’s where we are! We built the cabinet box, and it’s divided into 3 big sections.

My design was planned around these two doors I found on craigslist, and we wanted a center door made to match (which will hold the mirror).

The woodshop at Madison Street Salvage did an amazing job building a center door to match!

They took one of the original doors to a lumber place to figure out the wood, and everyone decided it was maple. I thought they were oak, but I’m no expert, so maple is what we did.

And if you remember the “Maple Staining Disaster of the Laundry Room,” I got super nervous about working with it again. But I never shy away from a challenge!

Seriously – the profiles are SO GREAT in how well they match.

So, knowing that I was dealing with maple again, I didn’t even pretend to want to stain it. I immediately ordered some dyes and started testing! I forgot how far it stretches – I really shouldn’t have started with a gallon of denatured alcohol. Oops.

Here’s what I did! Just like last time, I mixed denatured alcohol with Transtint. I used a blend of Dark Vintage Maple and Medium Brown. I just played with the colors to get what I wanted. Again, it would have been a lot easier if I had started with HALF a gallon of denatured alochol – I could’ve gotten to the depth I wanted quicker.

Also, can we talk for a second about the fact that they make PURPLE wood dye?

A quick google search seems like most people use it for making super cool guitars. But my head is spinning about making a really cool work top / table for my eventual office / sewing studio at home. That would be so wild, and I love the thought.

Dye is super thin, so you want to have down good floor coverings and wear gloves. But it’s so easy to work with. I really do like dye much better than stain.

This is where I start getting excited! With dye, all you do it brush it on. No wiping like stain. Brush it on, let it dry.

It’s so rich and deep. Another benefit of dyes, is that it dries SO quickly. Like, in 5 minutes you can touch and move it, or add another coat.

I did one coat on the Craigslist doors, and two on the new door. The new door didn’t take the stain as smooth as I had hoped. I did use conditioner first, but conditioner can only do so much with super hard woods. I know new growth will never look the same as old growth – and I don’t even want them to be exact. It’s part of their story, after all.

But yeah, I was hoping they’d be closer than this. But, shellac hasn’t been put on yet in these pictures, so that’s going to help A LOT.

Shellac! Shellac gives such a good finish, and it also adds that touch of orange / amber that helps tie it to the wood in the house.

After Dye, before Shellac!

Ahhhhh…… look at that!

Oh yeah. SO much better with shellac. The new wood (on the right) definitely still looks different, but it’s not nearly so jarring. Shellac is like a really great make-up foundation – it just evens things out.

And when you take a step back, it looks even nicer.

Yes. I can TOTALLY live with this.

Then, to work on the cabinet! First step, applying wood conditioner. The cabinet is oak, so not nearly as hard of wood, so the conditioner will work a little!

I asked Doug VERY nicely if he would tarp and tape the room for me. I knew he’d do a better job than me – and he did.

It was a VERY thorough job!


Starting the dye!

One bay done!

Almost done! Well, with this step. 

I think I’m going to do one more coat of dye before I shellac.

It’s already warming up the place!

I’m standing in the tub, and the door is open so you can compare colors. I don’t care if I get the tones EXACT, but I really think one more layer of dye, plus shellac will really be pretty darn close.

I’m in my happy place. Will this be done by the time school is out (Memorial Day?)?


I have high hopes. But also lots of concerts and things between now and then. So keep your fingers crossed!


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