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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Oak Kitchen Cabinets Provide Beauty And Durability

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There are several different materials used to make cabinets, but oak kitchen cabinets have a beauty and luster all their own. They can be stained light or dark, but the grain of the oak wood will always show through, marking the kitchen as having some of the most durable materials available for lasting beauty. One of the greatest things about oak kitchen cabinets is they can cleaned, sanded and refinished should the need ever arise and the luster of the wood will always remain.

If the homeowner is renovating their kitchen and installing oak kitchen cabinets, they can be stained to match other oak furniture in the kitchen as well as any wood trim along the baseboard. Kitchen tables and chairs constructed of oak will make a great compliment to the oak kitchen cabinets that can also be stained to match other wood storage items in the house.

Choosing to install oak kitchen cabinets shows that the owner is interested in something that will last a long time and is not afraid to show their preference for a natural wood. Faux wood products, such and plastic and pressed wood covered with an imitation oak finish may offer a similar look, but closer inspection will reveal the true materials used in the cabinets.

Better Preparation Needed For Oak

Oak is heavier than many other materials, such as pine and even walnut, but as a hard wood it is worth its weight in durability. Appropriately stained and coated oak kitchen cabinets will shed stains and marks like the back of a duck repels water. Occasional waxing and refinishing of the coating may be needed but usually not more than once every two or three years.

There are folks that will use contact paper over plywood in an attempt to make their kitchen look as though it has oak kitchen cabinets, but nothing can hold the glow like real oak. While maybe not as hard as mahogany, oak remains the choice for many wood workers who build furniture from scratch. Unfortunately, there are some factories churning out oak kitchen cabinets mush faster than the trees can grow, and while they are just as durable, they are all the same and lack the unique quality available with a custom set of cabinets.

The price of real oak kitchen cabinets may be out of reach for many folks’ budget, but if they are though of as an investment, they will more value to the home than the price of cabinets.

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About Ian del Carmen:Ian del Carmen is the president and CEO of Fireball Planet Corporation. Check out his blog at Or visit Fireball Planet at

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mantle Clocks

Here's a very interesting article I found about lovely mantle clocks - editor

Mantle clocks have become a mainstay of the traditional American home. The customary timepieces have endured the test of time, remaining a staple in modern décor in homes across the United States. Even homes that have no fireplaces are often adorned with mantle clocks in various rooms as accents to nearly every interior decoration.

In the days of old, the timepieces were made by hand and sent down through the family, generation after generation. The hand-crafted family heirlooms are priceless reminders of years gone past. Today, just about any handyman is capable of creating a mantle clock of his own to begin a new tradition for his family.

My husband is very family-oriented and some of his favorite things revolve around watches and various timepieces. He recently found a website that provides detailed instruction on how to build mantle clocks from scratch. My husband is thrilled to know that he can create something that represents our time together and he is so excited about the prospect of building something that can be passed down to our children (and beyond).

He found the website through a woodworking online magazine that focuses on do-it-yourself projects like the mantle clocks. They are constructed out of wood and are relatively easy to assemble. The instructions are so incredibly simple that my husband plans to build several mantle clocks; some for close friends and some for family as holiday gifts. The only obstacle he sees is gathering the materials, especially the tools.

While he does have a modest collection of tools, my husband does not own a router table. A router table is crucial when working with small parts, like the ones required for the delicate wooden mantle clocks because it helps to keep the wood in place as you work. Of course, this is of particular concern because safety is a big issue when it comes to do-it-yourself projects.

Once a router table is purchased, I estimate that my husband will be producing beautiful mantle clocks in no time. It'll be fun to see friends and relatives open their handcrafted gifts. I can even wager a guess on who will get the first one. It will be for my mother, especially since the first one will probably be a bit of a mess. However, I think that the newly-created heirloom will pass even my mother’s critical eye.

After all, there is no such thing as ugly mantle clock.

I certainly hope you enjoyed this article. If you have specific plans for building mantle clocks that you might like mentioned here, please email us or leave a comment.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Durability of Finish

The use to which the wood is put absolutely determines what constitutes a serviceable, durable finish. Wood trim which is never touched by human hands, never rubbed with elbows, never sat upon, scuffed with feet or ground by heels is often durably finished by no more treatment than stain, filler and wax or oil coats. Under other conditions of service stain, shellac and wax are quite enough. But when it comes to floors nothing short of stain, filler, shellac and three coats of varnish, waxed to finish, can be considered really durable and economically finished, and this in spite of common practice to the contrary which puts on only two coats of varnish. The durability of finish must include not only the preservation of color but also the preservation of the wood from damage by moisture.

In the matter of cost the wood finisher is in position to and does give customers just what they pay for. By cutting down the number of finishing operations and coats he cuts down the cost. In the excitement of price competition, however, he ought not to lose sight of the technical limitations, or the fact that a certain number of operations are necessary to produce clear colors, brilliancy and durability. Then the protective coatings of varnish, wax, paint or enamel on top of the color and surfacing coats cannot protect the color from fading or abrasion and the wood from moisture unless adequate in number and quality of material.

To express this thought in another way, we may say that a schedule of working operations which reads, “stain, fill and wax”, cannot possibly be as durable on some surfaces as one which reads, " stain, fill, shellac, varnish and wax." But the first schedule is much cheaper and may be adequate for a surface which is well protected and which is not subject to wear by abrasion, washing, etc. It all comes down to a question of what is the minimum number of coats and operations for the purpose of decoration and of durability for the particular kind of wood trim at hand.

Nature has woven into the fiber of each kind of wood a richness and variety of coloring which are ever pleasing to the eye. And in the exquisite grain and figure of woods she has traced patterns far beyond the ability and the dreams of the artist. Each wood has its own peculiar grain texture and figure. The best finishing is that which preserves to view these natural beauties and enhances them with color. There are but few woods which lack beauty of structure when the finisher knows how to make the most of them.

A stain or natural finish which hides any of the natural beauty evident in the wood before finishing is not the best kind of finish, but we must sometimes sacrifice something to gain durability by using varnish coatings which are not completely transparent. And, of course, on cheaper grades of work the price will not permit the use of the high class finishing methods which make the most of the grain and color. In very cheap work we even must go to the point of mixing stain to partly obscure the imperfections of poor wood, knots, resinous streaks, etc.

Considering the close relation between furniture finishes and wood trim finishes in buildings it is well to note that just as automobile painting represents the highest art in metal painting, so also does furniture finishing represent the highest art in wood finishing.

Consequently any methods, tools and materials about which the house finisher can learn from the furniture finisher are often well worth study when within the limitations of cost. The furniture finisher can do many things which the house finisher cannot because his surfaces are smaller, his woods finer and his cost not so limited, but there is much in common between these two craftsmen. As a matter of fact the demand for natural and stained house trim came as a result of furniture finishes and a desire to harmonize the two elements of decoration in a room.

Furniture manufacturers have spared no time or expense in creating and reproducing fine finishes on wood. They have sent their expert finishers all over the world to study first hand the authentic period furniture and interior room designs of- the so-called golden periods of decoration which are rich in the artistic works of master craftsmen.

These experts have reproduced color, texture and finish of furniture and interior wood trim in ancient baronial halls, castles, cathedrals and other structures built during the rich historic periods of design and decoration.

So, good furniture of modern manufacture offers a remarkably fine field for study for the finisher whose work is that of finishing wood trim of buildings.

For more wood finishing tips, visit:

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Getting a surface ready for finishing is work which should be done with the utmost care when the finish is to be the finest possible and even for ordinary jobs. Unfortunately the price received for many jobs of finishing is so low that it is quite impossible to do more than the most rapid cleaning and sandpapering, so that is where the responsibility must be placed for many muddy, cloudy natural and stained finishes.


New Surfaces

Wood to be finished in natural or stained color is especially deserving of most thorough work in preparing it for the finishing process. It should first be dusted off with a duster brush or a broom in the case of floors. Then all spots of plaster, dirt or grease ought to be removed. Usually such spots will come off with a washing over with benzene, using a putty knife to scrape off as much as possible. If the wood is oak, walnut or other open-grain variety, be particular to remove dirt, lime and grease from the pores of the wood. When such spots are not properly cleaned, stain does not take hold and penetrate and the finish is thus spotty in appearance.

New surfaces which are to be finished with paint and enamel ought to be cleaned well, but there is no need to be so particular about light stains. All loose particles on the surface should, however, be removed.

New surfaces which show dark stains from rust or other substances should be bleached out in such spots before being finished in natural or stained colors. The bleaching methods will be found later on.

New surfaces after cleaning should next be sandpapered if the finish is to be natural or stain colors. This is not necessary for paint or enamel finishes. If water stain is to be used many finishers prefer to brush or sponge on a water coating before sandpapering. The water stain will raise the grain of the wood, making little wood fibers stick up all over. If the surface is wet in this way before staining, the water stain does not raise the grain so much and the second sandpapering is very light.

If the water wetting is not done before staining with water stain the sandpapering operation on some woods must be done so heavily that some of the stain color will be cut off the wood. This sandpapering operation on new wood before or after wetting should be done with No. 0 and No. 00 paper, depending upon the roughness of the wood. Sometimes it is well to go over the wood first with a No. 1 paper and finish up with a finer grade.

The cleaning necessary after sandpapering should be well done with a duster brush on ordinary jobs. On fine furniture and cabinets more effort should be spent to remove every particle of dust. In furniture factories the dust from sanding is blown out of the pores with compressed air.

Woods to be finished in natural color as light as possible, maple, birch, etc., are often bleached before any finishing coats of filler, varnish or shellac are put on. The bleaching raises the grain of the wood and a thorough job of sandpapering must be done after that process. The bleaching methods will be found later in this chapter.

New surfaces to be finished in natural or stain colors and which show cracks and holes should be filled to remedy these defects. Plaster of Paris soaked in water is preferred by many finishers for this filling because it will absorb stain and also will take on the coloring given by filler. Other putty does not absorb color. On stained finishes as a rule the putty is put into the cracks and holes after the stain is dry. After putty is dry it should be sandpapered down smooth and clean. Then the surface should be cleaned up around the repairs.



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Saturday, June 03, 2006


Getting a surface ready for finishing is work which should be done with the utmost care when the finish is to be the finest possible and even for ordinary jobs. Unfortunately the price received for many jobs of finishing is so low that it is quite impossible to do more than the most rapid cleaning and sandpapering, so that is where the responsibility must be placed for many muddy, cloudy natural and stained finishes.


Old Surfaces

Preparing an old painted surface for repainting or for an enamel finish simply calls for sandpapering to remove dirt, grease and roughness, assuming that the old paint is firmly attached to the surface. If it shows any tendency to crack and scale or alligator it should be removed entirely from the surface with sandpaper or liquid paint remover.

Old enamel surfaces which are to be refinished call for sandpapering just enough to cut the old gloss and clean up the surface. Defects such as holes, bruises and cracks should, of course, be filled with good putty.

Old varnish to be refinished with varnish, paint or enamel should be rubbed down clean and smooth with No. 1 sandpaper just enough to remove the gloss, dirt and grease, assuming that the old varnish has not crazed or alligatored. If it shows indications of an infirm hold on the wood, better take off all of the varnish with liquid or paste varnish remover. After sandpapering to remove high gloss some finishers prefer to wash down a varnished surface with benzole or with warm water and soda to make it absolutely safe to paint or enamel. The soda bites into the varnish a little.

Old varnished surfaces which are to be refinished with stain call for stripping off all of the varnish, using liquid or paste varnish remover. A thorough job must be done. If any of the varnish is allowed to remain on the surface, even in a very thin coat, it will prevent new stain from penetrating into the wood. A penetrating stain is then needed to do an even coloring of the wood. After stripping off the varnish a most thorough washing should be done to remove any wax left on the surface by the remover. Wash up with benzole, preferably. Benzine, naphtha or turpentine will also do this clean-up work.

On low-priced work, restaining is sometimes done without removing the old varnish. The old varnish is rubbed down with No. 1 sandpaper to remove the gloss and clean up any dirt or grease on it. Then it is washed down with benzole brushed on to cut the old varnish a little, or is washed down with hot water in which soda has been dissolved to do the cutting of the old varnish. The stain used for such work is an oil stain which must be brushed on very deftly with as few strokes of the brush as possible to avoid raising or lifting the old varnish. Brush this stain only in one direction. For very cheap work a good brush hand can coat the surface with shellac to which a little pigment has been added to make a stain. These processes simply color the wood and supply a gloss. They do not pretend to enhance the beauty of the wood. In this sort of work it is sometimes necessary to touch-up bare, worn-through spots with a coat of thin oil stain before staining the whole surface, this is to make the worn places match the whole surface in color.

Old stained or natural varnished surfaces from which the old finish has been stripped off with varnish remover are often too dark in color to produce a nice finish with the new stain. Then it is necessary to bleach out the old color before restaining. The bleaching methods are presented later in this chapter.



This tip, and many more, can be found in the 130+ page eBook at this site:




Sunday, May 21, 2006

Wood Finishing Today

WOOD finishing today is a commercial art. With the greater appreciation of interior decoration by the great middle classes has come the realization that interior wood trim constitutes the frame of the picture, so to speak. Consequently the selection of color and texture of the finish for wood trim is being done with the same care that is exercised by the artist who chooses a frame for his painting.

The tendency to consider the wood finishing in homes and public buildings simply as one element of a decorative scheme, along with the several others, such as walls, floor, furniture, drapes, rugs and accessories, is a wholesome development which is making interiors truly beautiful.

The wood finisher, whether he be house painter and decorator, furniture worker or arts and crafts artisan, is confronted with an array of finishes calculated to confuse even the most experienced unless his working methods are based upon a sound knowledge of the most modern stains, fillers, varnishes and other materials. Then there has been a steady change in the kinds and grades of woods used for buildings, cabinets and furniture, calling for complete knowledge of the characteristics of present day woods.

And to make the wood finisher's task even more difficult the specifications by architects and customers change constantly to keep pace with styles in furniture and decorations of standard, period and novel designs. The wish is always for something new and different.

So the wood finisher must keep up with the procession in pursuit of style and vogue.

The matter of cost of producing finishes is usually the controlling factor, especially when surfaces to be finished are very large or are many times repeated, as when made up of hundreds of rooms in large office, hotel or similar structures. Then the cost of an extra coat or an extra sanding of the surface, for instance, may mean the difference between profit and loss on the job.


For more wood finishing tips, visit:

For a great ebook about How to Preserve Wood Patio Deck Floors, visit:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006