Entertainment Center Finish

I finally got around to applying the finish to the entertainment center doors. I took a finishing sequence from an old Fine Woodworking article on finishing walnut by Jeff Jewitt. While it is a bit involved, I think it served to even out the different colors of the different walnut boards quite nicely. I still need to build the upper bookshelf units, but at least the lower sections are now 100% complete.

A coat of a golden brown dye helps to warm the cool tones of the walnut and even out the color between boards.
A coat of a golden brown dye helps to warm the cool tones of the walnut and even out the color between boards.
The dye gives the wood a warm amber tone.
The dye gives the wood a warm amber tone.
The dye is very dark and a bit alarming when it's first applied.
The dye is very dark and a bit alarming when it’s first applied.
But the color lightens nicely when the water evaporates.
But the color lightens nicely when the water evaporates.
Two coats of dewaxed garnet shellac seal in the dye.
Two coats of dewaxed garnet shellac seal in the dye.
I sanded lightly with P400 between coats.
I sanded lightly with P400 between coats.
Then it's time for a glaze made up of equal parts gel varnish and linseed oil with artist oil colors added to give the desired color.
Then it’s time for a glaze made up of equal parts gel varnish and linseed oil with artist oil colors added to give the desired color.
The glaze is applied quickly and heavily to cover the entire front of the door (I didn't glaze the inside).
The glaze is applied quickly and heavily to cover the entire front of the door (I didn’t glaze the inside).
The thick coat of glaze is allowed to sit for a few minutes.
The thick coat of glaze is allowed to sit for a few minutes.
After about 10 minutes, the glazed is wiped off, allowing some buildup in corners and crevices to remain.
After about 10 minutes, the glazed is wiped off, allowing some buildup in corners and crevices to remain.
After the glaze dries for a day or two, a clear satin varnish top coat seals everything in.
After the glaze dries for a day or two, a clear satin varnish top coat seals everything in.
After the clear coat was dry I reattached the doors to the cases for the final time.
After the clear coat was dry I reattached the doors to the cases for the final time.
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5 thoughts on “Entertainment Center Finish

  1. Bob,
    This came out great, beautiful job of building & finishing. Thanks for the detailed sequence of steps on the finish. I’ll have to duplicate this on a future project.
    Question on your shellac application, do you experience any problems with brushing it on? With it drying as fast as shellac does, does it dry flat for you? I get runs or brush marks.
    Thanks,

    Tom Baker

    • If I don’t make a thin enough cut, then I’ll get brush marks. The trick to brushing shellac is to put it on so thin that you don’t think you’re applying much more than alcohol. It dries so fast that you can easily get six to eight coats on in a single day so the slow build of the really thin mixture isn’t really a big deal. I like to mix my own, so I have no idea what the actual pound cut is that I use. I add flakes to a canning jar and cover them completely with alcohol to about 1/2″ above the flakes. I swirl the jar occasionally and allow things to dissolve overnight. Once everything is fully dissolved, I take this mixture and mix it 50/50 with alcohol, thinning it even further. It’s probably less than a 1 pound cut.

      For comparison, shellac in a can (the full strength stuff, not the Seal Coat) is about a 3 pound cut I believe. Whatever it is, it’s way too thick to brush and self level well. If I use a can, I mix one part shellac to at least two parts alcohol to make it much thinner.

    • I took the advice from Jeff’s article in FWW :-). You can experiment though by mixing them into the glaze and smearing some glaze onto a piece of white printer paper until you get the color you want. You really don’t need many colors when it comes to furniture glazes. Van Dyke Brown, Burnt Umber and a deep red are about all you’ll ever need. Then you just experiment with the proportions of each until it looks good to you.

  2. Beautiful work there Bob! I love Jeff Jewitt’s finishing techniques, BTW. I have one of his books and the way he write’s about all the techniques he covers makes them very approachable. I use his basic BLO + shellac or seedlac finishing method on just about everything I build. I should pull that book and play with glazing. Looks really neat. Glad you were able to wrap this up and that it came out so nicely. A great build! Cheers.

    -Chris

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