You know what looks cool?

Alder wood with Laurel Mountain Forge Cherry stain. The alder sucks up a ton of the stain, darkening it to a deep, deep maroon/black cherry color. The wood also soaks up the Watco Danish oil finish like crazy. The photo is after the first application, and it will take several more to achieve a good seal and a semi-gloss or high satin glow.

Three or four applications of Danish oil to go

Three or four applications of Danish oil to go

I made a powder horn using an all-black horn with an alder base plug and stopper a few years ago with the same cherry finish, and my daughter recently asked for a coffee table in the that finish. Of course Dad is compelled to oblige, being as he likes woodworking and it’s a simple project. I told her; “Nothin’ fancy, just simple and good.”

Alder is fairly soft for a “hardwood” and it looks pretty plain, until you stain it. Variations in the direction of the grain cause large variations in the amount of stain absorbed, so you get a lot more contrast. Some would try to minimize that behavior by applying a seal coat before applying the stain, but we like it this way.

I’ve enjoyed working with Hickory, and it’s super tough, but it doesn’t take a stain like this Alder.

The iPad camera is pretty good for a point-and-shoot, but depending on your monitor you may have to use your imagination a little bit. On my iPad retina display the table has a slight hot pink hue to it that doesn’t belong there.

Below is some void filling in progress. Daughter wanted wood with some knots in it. You can try this method; do any staining first, then use cyano glue (super glue) to fill the voids, hit it with instant cure, wait some hours, then sand it flush. That way the color comes through the transparent acrylic. It turns out nice, but you usually have to do two or more applications if you want it really smooth. We use cyanoacrylate occasionally on musical instruments, even some fairly high-end ones, for crack repair or stabilizing and sealing sections of very old, deteriorating wood. It can actually work well.

Use cyano glue to fill voids after staining.

Use cyano glue to fill voids after staining.

9 thoughts on “You know what looks cool?

  1. The only issue I have with CA is it is sensitive to moisture (moisture both cures the CA and breaks down the bonds over time. It is a blessing and a curse). That is all well and good for things that should not get wet, like RC aircraft and instruments, but I can imagine it causing issues for a table surface that may have to handle spills.

    • I’d leave this alone but for the misleading aspect of it. CA glue is used in underwater applications. It forms a polymer when hardened. The bond on human skin will break down because your skin is constantly growing and sluffing off and whatnot. Not so on a boat hull or aquarium, where CA glues are also used.

      There a more than few musical instruments that are operated by blowing through them, and many of those are made of wood. Your breath contains a very high humidity, and so a wind instrument gets dripping wet inside every time it’s played. This constant wetting and drying can cause cracks, and even rot over a period of many decades. When they crack, the CA glues are an excellent tool (often used along with small, threaded steel pins across the crack, which are then hidden) in making repairs, and it is permanent.

  2. lyle:

    the old acraglass from brownells is supposed to fill pretty nicely, and also take a stain. brownells used to recommend this in gunsmith’s kinks, but, i don’t know if they still do. alder and birch are good for these kinds of applications.

    i like the tung oil finishes, and also a good quality tung based “spar varnish,” and have used it for years on gun stocks. it is tough, easy to repair, and i hunted with it in the high cascades during elk season. which is to say, it stands up to snow, rain and freezing temperatures very nicely.

    you might give it a try.

    john jay

    • Thanks John. Dainish Oil is another one of the “drying oil” finishes. I’ve used Tung oil also, and they’re both easy to touch up or repair as you say.

      I have played with Acraglass several times and I like it. Both A-glass and CA glue have their uses, with A-glass being more appropriate for void filling I suppose. CA glue can be cured instantly using the insta-cure spray, which is one advantage. For big void filling A-glass (a clear, dimentionally stable epoxy for them that hasn’t used it) is by far the better choice.

      Unlike classic wood putty, both A-glass and CA form a structural bond.

  3. p.s. a nice job. the table should last for many years. you’ll have to find out how “child proof” it is, of course.

    and, i am also very partial to a dark “cherry” finish. quite pretty, in a classy sort of way.

  4. That is a very nice looking table. I may have to try alder some time. I usually just use cheap.

  5. Looks really nice. You might want to look at the Watco wax to go with the Danish oil. It calms down the sheen and gives it some depth.

    WaterLox is a great table finish also. Great water blocking properties and makes the grain pop nicely.

  6. I like it too — though the legs look like they could use something on the bottom…. Not sure what though. Almost looks like Danish modern furniture.

  7. Nice work.

    On CA glue: the crack fill use of it I read about in a book on model airplane making. Tried it out and it worked very well indeed. Unfortunately, the accelerator I used is not PC and no longer available, and the bottle I had is now empty. I guess there are newer accelerators that are allowed for now, probably less effective and way more expensive. That application doesn’t require strength; the point is simply that the glue fills the gaps and sets quickly with no significant shrinkage. And at least in the model airplane application, moisture is not an issue (the plane is painted afterwards, after all).

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