Coffee ceremony shrine #5: Scraping, lye and lacquer.

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Blog entry by mafe posted 07-25-2020 10:00 PM 1154 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Detour, sewing stuff sacks and making a leather strap for the canteen. Part 5 of Coffee ceremony shrine series Part 6: Kōhī gishiki kokumotsu kibako. »

Coffee ceremony shrine for a Svea 123r camp stove
Scraping, lye and lacquer.

Hi there,
Time for an update, on the Japanese inspired Coffee ceremony box.

I decided to go for the lye treatment, with white pigment in it, to lighten the wood and to keep it from getting too yellow over time.

This part was actually quite a few months back now, but I have been a busy bee and happy monkey, in my wee allotment house, where lots of projects in the garden and fixing the house, is taking all the energy I have, so no time for extra woodworking projects this summer. But I did finish up this one here, in my allotment workshop last week, so I thought I would share it with you.

Hope you are all good and despite the pandemic is keeping the mood up and perhaps are finding even more time to do woodworking.

Sorry I can’t keep up with all your projects, hope that I can catch up during the winter.

So here we are, the Coffee ceremony box and a bottle of lye I bought for the project.
The lye is something I have used a lot on floors, both as an architect and in my own home, but never before on a woodworking project, so I was quite nervous to ruin my fine boxes…

For that reason I decided to make some test pieces on some left over wood from the project.
Found that the version, where I just used a cloth to apply was the best.
Tried two layers, thin layer and a few others also.
I really like how it keeps the woods original look, structure and even colour play, so it just lightens it up.

The boxes and the stand, where finished up, with scrapers and the sharp edges were taken off with sandpaper, as little as possible, to keep it looking sharp.

The scraper leaves a superior surface in my opinion,sandpaper can never get eevn close.
I tried to keep the tool marks, when possible, since I think it gives life.
Also I really liked the finger joints, are sticking out just a wee bit, it makes it look less machined.

A lot of cleaning up!

Finally time for the lye.
The brush are for the corners, the cloth used to apply and wipe.
Th black things on the left is licorice, I’m Danish so I love strong licorice, smiles.

I love it!

Quite easy to apply, just don’t leave too much, or go back once dry.

You can see the wood under, that’s how fir and pine looks after years, if they are not treated or just get lacquer.

Burning some petrol, while we wait for it to dry…

This is the result after lye.

Think it does what it’s supposed to, without ruining the wood.

A little colder, but that will warm up, once it gets oil or lacquer on top.

A last detail.

This was where the project ended months back.
Then spring came and I got busy in the allotment, but last time I were back in the workshop, I picked up the box and bought some matt lacquer to finish it up.

Here in the allotment workshop, with the boxes, a foam brush, water based matt lacquer and a bottle of Prosecco, always a reason to celebrate. Smiles.

All ready to be lacquered.

Let’s hope I don’t dip in the wrong place…

Some of you know, that I hate to do finish on my projects, so it was kind of a surprise to me, that this time I loved it and I did an excellent job – wonder if it was the bobbles…

Well now it will be left to dry and we will look at the result in next part.

Hope it can be to some inspiration, or a glass of bobbles perhaps.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

9 comments so far

View lew's profile


13546 posts in 5247 days

#1 posted 07-25-2020 11:08 PM

Thanks for the update, Mads!

I hope this doesn’t seem like an inappropriate question, but what is an allotment house?

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4581 days

#2 posted 07-25-2020 11:17 PM

Hi Lew,
Smiles, lovely to see you.
Not inappropriate at all.
You can read about it here:
But it’s kind of like a summerhouse, but the original idea of the allotments, were that you grew food and could get fresh air, even you did not have the money to buy a summerhouse. In UK most allotments are just a small plot of land, if lucky with a small shed for tools, in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, it’s often tiny houses, primitive, but where you can live in the summer.
Best thoughts to you my friend.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

27800 posts in 4598 days

#3 posted 07-26-2020 01:51 AM

Hi Mads, Very nice work with the Lye, I have never heard of that being used to stop that age yellowing.

I was going to ask the same question about the allotment. So you live there in the summer and grow a garden and have a pretty primitive lifestyle? no electricity? what happens to you regular house?..sit vacant in the city? Do you go back and forth during the summer? How is your daughter? I have not seen her lately in any of your projects…. she must be a young lady by now?

Cheers, my friend…..............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10487 posts in 2074 days

#4 posted 07-26-2020 02:40 AM

Greetings, Mads! Good to hear from you, and I’m glad your small box is closer to finished. Also very glad you’re doing well in your allotment house.

I’m building bookcases for my house from pine, and thought about treating it with lye, but have decided they are just going to get a few coats of the lightest shellac I have. Maybe next project.

Be well, my friend!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


24932 posts in 5168 days

#5 posted 07-26-2020 04:25 AM

Always good to see your posts Mads. Nice job.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View lew's profile


13546 posts in 5247 days

#6 posted 07-26-2020 02:32 PM

Thank you, Mads, for the explanation. I remember your post on this wonderful little home but didn’t understand about the term allotment.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4581 days

#7 posted 07-28-2020 09:22 PM

Hi guys,
Jim, yes I bought this place as a summer space, it’s quite simple, but running water and I have installed a solar system now, so I have light and can run a fridge as well as things under 700W. Besides that I have a 2200w generator, for tolls and stuff, so I can run a tablesaw when I need to make stuff for the house. Sadly yes my apartment in Copenhagen is just empty, I were palling to let someone rent it, but then Covid came, so it will be next summer… Yes I go forward and back once in a while, mostely to see my dear Mathilde, she is 21 now and studying building construction, at the school where I used to be principal, so life goes in circles, in a wonderful way. We both enjoy this and talk about construction, right now I am making a model with her, to learn her about all the layers and parts in the house.

Here she is, my dear daughter, with the model we are working on.
She just mentioned the wood braclet you send her, when I visithed her in her apartment.
Dave, sounds interesting a bookcase project for the house. You should try the lye, it’s amazing, I personally love the one with white pigment in it. Yes I fine here, a happy monkey.
Topamax, always good to see you, big smile.
Lew, it’s also a strange term, the biggest advantage is that you don’t pay any taxes, so it’s really cheap to have, I pay 280usd a year as a total including water and trash to have the place and the house costed 8000usd. A real summer house the same size, wound be 50-100.000 usd and 1500usd a year in tax. So it’s a chance for me, who can’t afford to buy a summerhouse, to get a garden, a small house and grow stuff for the joy.
Best thoughts to the four of you, stay safe and healthy,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

10487 posts in 2074 days

#8 posted 08-04-2020 03:02 PM

Mads, here is the first case and plinth, set up near where it will eventually live.

I’m pretty happy with just the super-blonde shellac as a finish, though it may well yellow over time. We’ll see.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4581 days

#9 posted 08-05-2020 10:29 AM

Really elegant Dave, looking simple yet detailed, I like that.
Yes we only know after years for real, if we choose the right finish, why we often stick to the same one.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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