Today is a good example of why I really don’t care much for finishing. It’s incredibly important, but quite time consuming and I’m not that good at it (though I’m definitely improving with this project, since there is so much to do).

Today started with me hitting all the surfaces with #0000 steel wool. While shellac is an alcohol-based product, it does still raise the grain on the wood a little bit. And I’ve found that can be a path to blotching when I stain, if I don’t remove it. So, I rub everything down with steel wool. Then I have to wipe everything down with denatured alcohol to take away the bits of steel wool left behind (that’s the black staining shown).

steel picked up with an alcohol wipe

I then work on the staining in batches. I leave the stain on for a specific period of time, covering only as many pieces as I can manage until that time expires. I go back and remove excess stain starting from the first piece.

Sometimes, this leads to the discovery I didn’t sand enough, which leads to blotching. That happened this time with one of the panels for the back of a case. When it happens, I have to sand through the stain, through the shellac, and enough to remove the blotch. Then a patch of shellac followed by another round of staining.

Here’s the panel after the sanding. There was a lot of blotching, and a sad woodworker.

panel with blotching sanded out

And here it is after it’s been restained.

repaired panel stained

To show how boring finishing looks in photos, here’s a picture from yesterday where the panels were sealed with shellac and then one after today’s coat of stain.

panels after shellac

panels after first round of staining

I aim to get the second round of staining done tomorrow, and will then start applying finish no earlier than the next day.