Category Archives: Uncategorized

Step it Up with this Ladder Display Rack

While cutting up a wooden step-ladder may seem just a little strange, it actually made my wife Leigh Ann very happy. Not only had she been warning me that this old cobbled up ladder was going to collapse under me, she also had seen photos of old ladders being used as towel displays in kitchens and bathrooms.

While she was insistent that I didn’t sand off all the old paint splatters, it did need a light sanding just to eliminate any rough edges and to bring out some of the natural grain of the wood.

Since the rungs would be a challenge to brush on a finish, I opted for the aerosol version of Minwax® Polycrylic™ Protective Finish. Polycrylic is water-based, so it dried quickly and did not change the color of the wood. But it did give it just enough sheen to bring the old wood to life.

To hang it, I drilled a quarter-inch hole at the top of each side, then inserted a knotted loop of cord. I set the ladder in our family room while I went back to get a hammer and a couple of small nails. When I came back, Leigh Ann had already started experimenting with hanging dish towels from it.

I managed to get one more picture before she grabbed it and took off to see which room it would look best in. I headed back to my workshop to start another project….

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by.


Create a Stain Dipped Stool

As you may have discovered, furniture in storage does not fare well. I had used this stool for a staining demonstration on a television show I did last year, but afterwards it ended up in my storage room. Before long it had creeping mildew, not to mention, a colony of spiders living on it.

A friend turned me on to the “dipped” look which is now popular. After a light sanding to erase the mildew and scare away the spiders, I measured four inches down from the top of each leg, then wrapped it several times with masking tape.

I then opened a can of “Island Water,” a Water Based Minwax® stain, and applied stain to the area above each of the four taped legs. I then gave the top a fresh coat of stain to match.

After the stain had dried, all that was left was to spray on a coat of aerosol Minwax® Polycrylic™ Protective Finish. Since both the water-based stain and the Polycrylic dry quickly, before the day was done I was able to move my “dipped” stool into the house and near our fireplace.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!


Creating a Vintage Rocking Chair Perfect for Any Kid’s Room

I love unfinished furniture, in part because I know that when it comes to pieces with lots and lots of parts, like this child’s rocker, I couldn’t make it for less money than it costs. But unfinished furniture does come with a few challenges.

First, there are the nail holes, which I filled using Minwax® Stainable Wood Filler. Once it dried and hardened, I sanded it flush with the wood using a medium grit sandpaper.

Also, the wood used in unfinished furniture generally tends to absorb stain unevenly, so after my first sanding I brushed on a coat of Minwax® Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to reduce the blotchiness and streaking.

After the Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner had dried, I sanded it lightly and applied my Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain, using Island Water to give me the blue color I wanted. I rubbed it in using a soft cloth, then immediately wiped off the excess stain, going in the direction of the grain of each piece.

Having raised two sons, I know how hard children are on furniture, so I decided I would make my new rocker look old. That way the latest nicks and scratches will look normal! Besides, I like the vintage look, so I lightly sanded off some of the stain on those parts that would typically get the most use over the course of several decades.

Brushing a finish on rungs and slats is time-consuming, so I opted for the aerosol version of  Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish in a semi-gloss sheen. I applied just two thins coats at first.

Then I let them dry and reached for my stencils. I had my choice of Minwax® Express Color™ Wiping Stain & Finish or Minwax® Gel Stain to lightly dab over my stencil using a natural sea sponge. This time I selected Onyx in the Express Color line, being careful not to apply too much stain, as it could then seep under the stencil. My tip: Dab lightly, let dry, dab lightly, let dry, repeat, repeat, repeat.

After I was done with my stenciling, I let it dry, then returned later to spray on three additional coats of Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish over the entire chair, including the stenciled letters. When I was all done I had a new, durable child’s rocking chair that looks as vintage as a more fragile antique.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!


Creating a Colorful Nightstand at the Renegade Craft Fair

Crowd gathering around the Minwax booth

We had an exciting time at the Renegade Craft Fair in Seattle last month, as thousands of people streamed down the aisles, stopping in the Minwax® booth to ask questions, try new products, and watch as I was staining and finishing two pieces of furniture.

Bruce Johnson applying blue Minwax stain

On Saturday I gave this hardwood two-drawer nightstand a light sanding, wiped off the dust, and then applied Minwax® Water-Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to avoid any blotchiness when staining. I used Minwax® Express Color™ in “Indigo” for the two drawers, and also applied it to the top.


Bruce Johnson applying Vermont Maple wood stain

As a pleasing contrast to the blue top and drawers, I decided to stain the framework with another water-based stain. I used the Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain in “Vermont Maple.” You can apply it with either a brush, a soft cloth, or a heavy-duty paper towel, but need to follow your application by wiping off any stain the wood does not absorb, going in the direction of the grain of the wood.

Bruce Johnson applying a polycrylic finish

Stain adds color, but not enough protection, so as soon as it dried, I brushed on the first of two coats of Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish.

Finished Nightstand at Renegade Craft Fair

The great thing about water-based stains and finishes is that they dry fast enough for you to start and finish a project in one day. Our nightstand turned out great and gave people at the craft fair a chance to see our water based stains and finishes in action.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!