0504-ShakerNightstandsFinishes took front stage in Episode 05 as Tommy and renown master finisher Charles Neil demo a handful of finish options on a few simple shaker night stands. Charles does a great job putting Tommy through the paces, but that’s no surprise given the woodworker’s 40+ years of experience. He offered some basic guidelines for surface prep, adding oil finishes and using milk paints, and snuck in a few professional tips to boot. (If the episode left you craving some more Charles in your life, hit up his Youtube Channel. The 120+ videos should keep you busy for some time.)

Here’s a smattering of the advice Charles gave in the episode:

Surface Prep

  • After giving the surface a good sanding, Charles wipes water on the surface to act as blotch control.
  • He’ll then apply a water-based (or alcohol-based) dye, with food color optional
  • Stand up the piece to dry, allowing airflow all around, for 10-15 minutes
  • Hit it with a sander (orbital or hand) with 150 grit
  • Tip 1: What you do to one side of the piece, do to the other — BALANCE
  • Tip 2: Sand those edges to round them a little bit

Oil Finish

  • When selecting an oil finish, Charles suggests a varnish oil. It’s all about “better ingredients, better resins.” Which equals better results.
  • Apply a liberal first coat. Wipe and let dry. Knock it back with 600 grit. Repeat to build up coats until you’re happy.
  • Tip 1: Have a water-filled container handy to toss used rags into to avoid workshop fires
  • Tip 2: Always ventilate properly when applying oils

Milk Paints

The milk paint segment of the episode was captivating. By layering two different colors and sanding through the top Charles and Tommy achieved that popular distressed look on the night stand. Here are some tips to consider when working with milk paints:

  • Since milk paint is made with casein (and ingredient in milk), it has does have a shelf life. So don’t mix more than you need.
  • Use gloves when working with milk paint that contains lime, as it can be caustic.
  • When mixing milk paint, start with a thinner consistency and add more as needed. The final mix should be the consistency of latex paint.
  • Tip 1: Rather than waiting for the second coat to dry to then sand back, take a damp sponge and wipe it off to a desired look before it dries. You can always reapply if you wipe too much.
  • Tip 2: Since milk paint is pretty porous, you’ll want to seal it with an oil or water-based finish.

Be sure to check out the full episode for a closer look at how Charles works his finishing magic, and check out his website for more information.

Episode 505: Simple Shaker Night Stand and Finishes Teaser from Tommy Mac on Vimeo.