Denette

Walnut Vanity

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I'm making a vanity for a client. Solid wood exterior with plywood interior and drawers.

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They want it to be dark, so we went with walnut. Here's the material as it arrived:

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I finished laying out the pieces and got all the solid wood down to its rough dimension yesterday. It's my first time to lay out the pieces like this - I don't know why I haven't done it before, it's a great preview & helps me figure out the grain orientation a lot better.

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I'm 95% happy with the layout as it currently is. The only piece I'm not in love with is the center stile on the right side - just a case of making do with limited stock. It'll be next to a toilet for heaven's sake, so I'm not super concerned. If I'm committing grave error let me know, but I don't think it's THAT bad. Good color match at least.

My client wants it darker. I hate, hate, HATE using stain, so I am looking for a better way. I played with some dark danish oil, to moderately pleasing results. I was reading Jeff Jewitt's finishing book last night and he mentioned Iron Sulfate as a way to semi-naturally / chemically darken walnut, so I'm going to order some of that and test it out. It's pretty cheap and seems very safe - it's sold as an iron supplement for people to drink, so it's probably way safer than ordinary stain anyway.

I'm planning on going the utility over grace route for the drawers and cabinet hinges - this is a working cabinet, not a piece going in an art gallery. Full-extension self/soft-closing drawer slides, blumotion hinges. Haven't got my mind settled on pull/knob hardware yet. And thankfully, the client is taking care of the countertop and plumbing. All I have to do is come and install it in place.

Should be a fun build! It's my first piece of real walnut furniture, aside from some dabbling in small projects like cutting boards, bandsaw boxes, and floating shelves. Walnut is niiiiiiice.

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That looks like a great project! 

Take a look at Van Dyke Flakes. They are made from walnut husks and can add some nice color to walnut.

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Nice project, and what's with all theses clients all of a sudden?  Is someone's business taking off (I hope)?

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This project got me salivating. I'll enjoy watching this thread. I like the bump out for the drawers. Is your walnut from Arkansas? Are you building this on a contract or time and materials? What brand do you use for the drawer hardware. The bulkhead next to the toilet will get the most scrutiny by the owner of the thrown. Unless they do a lot of reading...So maybe it is not "just" next to the toilet...Lots of ways to look at it. I think my first thoughts of grain would have been like yours. I am very acquainted with a white oak panel... Perhaps the need for Fabreez will cause distraction from the walnut grain and if that then it doesn't matter. Pardon my rambling thoughts.

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Nice design!! I have a much smaller vanity cabinet in my future I look forward to following along!

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This looks like it's going to be an awesome project i look forward to following along.

This is why i don't do client work. All i can think of is telling the person they are wrong and if they want darkened walnut they should have went with ebonized oak and saved the money. I like the look of a natural light finish on walnut and the thought of staining walnut is repugnant to me but that's just my opinion.

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Looks like a cool project, can’t wait to see it come together. 

I think the stile will be fine. Depending on how the bathroom is laid out, it probably won’t be looked at much. If you do end up with some sort of stain or darkening, it may well make the grain blend in a bit more. 

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Did the client see your unfinished stock and say they wanted it darker? Walnut darkens significantly when the finish is applied. If they are just looking at the unfinished wood than I'd finish a piece and show them that before I stained walnut. 

I don't know if I could make myself stain such gorgeous stock, sort of defeats the purpose of using walnut in the first place. It's sort of like buying a great single malt scotch and putting it in a mixed drink.

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3 minutes ago, Bmac said:

I don't know if I could make myself stain such gorgeous stock, sort of defeats the purpose of using walnut in the first place. It's sort of like buying a great single malt scotch and putting it in a mixed drink.

 

27 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

This is why i don't do client work. All i can think of is telling the person they are wrong 

Yeah, I know.  I feel you 100%.  I'm hoping to convert them.  They will be coming by the shop next Saturday and I'm going to have a few samples of different finishes ready for them.  But stain is just for the birds, man.  If wood was supposed to be a certain color, God would've made it that way, and any manmade finish just fails to stack up to natural wood IMO.  But I'll see what I can do with danish oil, linseed oil, and topcoats.  Hopefully it'll please them.

 

But really though.  This is going to be the nicest piece of cabinetry in a several mile radius.  They should realize that and just match their other stuff to my work, not ask me to do the opposite.  I've had to match white oak to Walmart particle board grey "wood" printed decals because my client on that project would not budge.  But whatever, it pays!  

7 hours ago, Mark J said:

Nice project, and what's with all theses clients all of a sudden?  Is someone's business taking off (I hope)?

Yeah, it's going as well as I could ask for!  All the work I've done for the last year and a half has been for clients.  They've kept me plenty busy, and I've got projects lined up into probably February or March.  After that I think I'm going to take a little break from commissioned work so I can actually KEEP something I make for once, hahahaha.  But yeah, it's going very well!  Small side business for supplemental income.  

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2 hours ago, Denette said:

 

Yeah, I know.  I feel you 100%.  I'm hoping to convert them.  They will be coming by the shop next Saturday and I'm going to have a few samples of different finishes ready for them.  But stain is just for the birds, man.  If wood was supposed to be a certain color, God would've made it that way, and any manmade finish just fails to stack up to natural wood IMO.  But I'll see what I can do with danish oil, linseed oil, and topcoats.  Hopefully it'll please them.

 

But really though.  This is going to be the nicest piece of cabinetry in a several mile radius.  They should realize that and just match their other stuff to my work, not ask me to do the opposite.  I've had to match white oak to Walmart particle board grey "wood" printed decals because my client on that project would not budge.  But whatever, it pays!  

Yeah, it's going as well as I could ask for!  All the work I've done for the last year and a half has been for clients.  They've kept me plenty busy, and I've got projects lined up into probably February or March.  After that I think I'm going to take a little break from commissioned work so I can actually KEEP something I make for once, hahahaha.  But yeah, it's going very well!  Small side business for supplemental income.  

I REALLY wish i remembered where @gee-dub hid his magic recipe for walnut. It was in one of his builds maybe he go do a tip on it or something? ;) I remember thinking he was being blasphemous before i saw the finished produced then he convinced me. I still haven't tried it personally.

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Consider the Blum undermount concealed slides if your drawer parts aren't already cut to size. They let the drawer be a little bit wider than a drawer for side mount slides.  Looks like a very nice project !

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Made up some samples of

 various finishes so my client can pick what she likes. Safe to say that we probably wont be using the ferrous sulfate, it looks like grey paint.  Leftup to my own decision, I’d probably go with Danish oil topped with wipe-on poly.  But we will see.

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Got some tenons cut tonight!  Actually, afaik I cut ALL the tenons for this project.  Tomorrow I’m going to use my sexy powermatic mortiser to cut the corresponding mortises.  Meeting with the client Saturday to discuss finishing options, wish me luck! *eek*

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Also, I replaced that one stile I wasn’t so sure about.  I had scrap and made use of it!  Better to fix it now than later.  The one on the left is the original funky piece, and on the right is it’s replacement.  Still not perfectly straight grain, but worlds better. 

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49 minutes ago, Alan G said:

Do you know what is causing that cracking on the tenons in those last 2 pics? Did it do that when you milled it? 

Yeah, it’s just because there’s only about 3/16” of end grain on top of the mortise. Super weak.  But in the long run it won’t hurt anything as long as I don’t just obliterate it.

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When you glue it put a clamp on the face of it like you would with a bridle joint to ensure that you get a good glue bond. You probably would but it's an easy just in case measure.

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55 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

When you glue it put a clamp on the face of it like you would with a bridle joint to ensure that you get a good glue bond. You probably would but it's an easy just in case measure.

Yep, that was the plan!  A solid tip, though.  Sound advice.  Thanks!

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So you learned the reason for haunched tenons the hard way. That makes it a lesson you won't forget ! I'm glad it won't show . Vanity is looking great !

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1 hour ago, K Cooper said:

@Denette, out of curiosity, on your last pic, why didn’t you take the mortise all they way back to your scribe line? 

Well, it isn’t for a mortise.  That’s just to find the center line, it was to help me with the dado/rabbet joint that runs the full height of the leg at the corner.  I’m working with stock that I just planned to whatever thickness made it pretty, rather than down to precisely 1”.  I still couldn’t say for sure how thick it is, so I used my marking gauge on opposite sides back and forth a few times to find the midpoint.

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