Monthly Archives: September 2016

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!


Create a Quick Workbench for Your Shop

Sometimes our regular workbench becomes so loaded with projects that we can’t move forward, especially when we need room for some staining and finishing.

When that happened to me recently, I had an idea. I set up two of my folding sawhorses, laid our stepladder across them, and used pieces of stiff cardboard to make a top. While I couldn’t assemble a chair on top of it, my makeshift workbench proved sturdy enough for me to stain and finish a set of shelves on it.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!


Get Organized with This Vinyl Storage Project

If you have somebody in your family who just can’t let go of their collection of vintage albums, you just might be able to help them keep their collection organized — and easier to enjoy!

In our house, I happen to be the vintage record collector, so I started by taking my measurements from my records and record player, then bought some of my favorite woods:  these wide, pre-glued pine panels.

Knowing how heavy record albums are, I glued and nailed shelf supports for two rows of records and the record player itself.

My favorite one-step stain and finish for wide, flat panels is Minwax® PolyShades®, as it adds just the right amount of color to the wood, plus a layer of polyurethane protection — all in one coat.

After the Polyshades had dried, I set each shelf on the supports, then glued and nailed them together. I always prefer to leave the clamps on overnight to give the glue enough time to bond the boards securely together.

The next morning I moved the record stand into the house, organized my records on the shelves, plugged in my record player, and enjoyed a trip back in time.

Until our next time together,

Thanks for stopping by!


A Quick Tip:  Rather than struggle to freehand draw an even curve, simply use one of the cans off your shelf to trace the perfect line on your project.

The Perfect Bench for Any Room

Unfinished bench for the Renegade Craft Fair

When we went shopping for some unfinished furniture to feature at last month’s Renegade Craft Fair in Seattle, I couldn’t resist this hardwood bench, for what room in your house couldn’t use a handy bench? I have one at the end of our bed, in our mudroom, and in our workout area in our family room.


Bruce pre-staining bench

If there is one thing I have learned about wood, it is that all wood is unpredictable. So before I stain any piece, I apply a coat of  Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to reduce the possibility that the wood will absorb my stain unevenly.

Bruce Johnson staining the bench base

I love the opportunity for a two-tone staining project, so I selected “Red Mahogany” in the Minwax® Wood Finish™ line for the base. A foam brush works well for getting the stain into corners, but I always follow that by wiping off any unabsorbed stain with a clean cloth. Stain dries in the wood, not on the wood!

Bruce Johnson staining the top of the bench

With a dark toned base, I opted for a lighter top, selecting “Golden Oak” stain. While this light colored stain does not add a great deal of color, it brings out the grain of the wood much more than if I had skipped the stain and only applied a clear coat of finish.

Finished bench

And speaking of a clear finish, my favorite is  Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane. I recommend brushing on two coats, with a light sanding with #220-grit sandpaper of the first coat after it has dried, just to remove the dust that landed in the wet finish.

And when you’re finished, I’ll predict your hardest decision will be which room gets your new bench!

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!