Fighting through frustration

I’m in the middle of finishing the sideboard, which is something I’ve never really shown that much aptitude at. Particularly, with stain. I stained the kitchen table, and it only turned out fair. It has only gotten worse since I never protected it with anything. I’m attempting to do better this time around.

I stained the entire thing, and again am getting mixed results. The plywood doesn’t take stain evenly, and as a matter of fact neither is the maple. I stained it last night in the house (stain on carpet, never good). This morning I gave portions of it another once-over, to try and even it out. Not great. I went and picked up some #0000 steel wool in an effort to do the same, and that has actually worked to some degree. I then went to put on the Arm-R-Seal. It started taking the stain off like it was mineral spirits. I read the can, and it said 12-24 hours after stain. Oops. That’s what I get for not reading.

Well, I think I fixed that oops, and it was a big one, considering it was right in the middle of the top. Steel wool, then more stain. Evened it out again. Now I’m guaranteed to have to wait until tomorrow to put a coat of seal on it. Only really means I’ll have a mess in my dining room until it can come back in. It will be ready to come back in at some point tomorrow, just probably not until late.


So, what does this all mean? For a bit, I thought it meant I’d quit woodworking. Why? Because I seem to face this sort of adversity with just about everything I do. I’m not a good woodworker. I’m hoping that I’ll see enough faith in what I do to add a ‘yet’ to the end of that. I know that if I quit, it’s the only guaranteed way that I’ll never be able to do something.

What’s the solution? Well, I really need to stop building things to a deadline. I’ve made a few things for the house, and almost all of them were as a gift. I really should stop doing that, give myself more time and not rush things. Or have to put stain on at night in my house. Or try and rush the process by putting finish on too early no matter what. It would also help if I had somewhere to actually finish, but I suppose I’ll have to work around that.

You know the other thing that would work, too? Making better choices in general. I put this piece together in 2013, mostly, and it was based on choices for the table which was done before that. If I wanted it dark, I should have chosen darker woods. That would eliminate a lot of need for staining, and I could focus more on accentuating the wood itself, not protecting a ‘fake’ finish. If I had to do this sideboard over I would choose walnut. I have more skills right now on working with the wood itself than the finish, I should work to those strengths.

I suppose while I wait I will work on getting the shelves ready for stain. They might not be stained this weekend. I may give myself a bit more time to get them properly protected from the abuse they’ll see. Patience won’t get it done on time, but hopefully it will get it done right.

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