Byrdcliffe-inspired Mission Cabinet Finished

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Project by JoeMcGlynn posted 04-21-2014 06:48 PM 2464 views 3 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just finished and hung a new cabinet, inspired by the “Byrdcliffe” cabinet that Christopher Schwarz wrote about in PWW a number of years ago. The original cabinet had a dark finish and door on the right side with a carved panel. The carving was a lilly and it was subtly painted.

The room that this cabinet was destined for has several pieces of Mission-styled furniture in it, so I decided to adapt the original design to be more in keeping with that theme. I made it in quarter sawn white oak, and instead of a carved panel (which is certainly not Mission-ish) I made a stained glass panel.

The overall dimensions are true to what Chris called out in his article, but I changed the door construction to accommodate the glass panel. The magazine article showed a groove for the panel and 1/2” long stub tenons. I needed something a little stronger, and a rebate on the back that I could set the glass panel into. I used mortise and tenon joints, which lead to an interesting detour into why I was struggling with chopping mortises by hand. Eventually I figured it out and moved on with the project.

The finish on the oak is a multi-step job. I started with a base coat of Trans-Tint Brown Mahogany dye (slightly diluted over the normal mix). I rubbed that out with a red scuff pad after it had dried, and followed it with a coat of General Finishes Candelite gel stain. I top coated it with one coat of linseed oil, a coat of garnet shellac and a final coat of clear shellac. I rubbed that out with 0000 steel wool and waxed it with dark brown wax. The color looks great in person.

I made the glass panel, starting with a Dard Hunter design that I scaled to fit. The glass is iridized art glass, which means it has a thin metallic coating on it that reflects light in a rainbow of colors. I thought this was important because it wouldn’t be backlit, so otherwise it might look too bland.

I’m really pleased with the end result, and my wife loves it. I put all the gory details on my blog at

-- Blog:

6 comments so far

View Jeffrey Alexander's profile

Jeffrey Alexander

114 posts in 3580 days

#1 posted 04-21-2014 08:01 PM

Beautiful finish that with the rich colors. Great job with the stained glass also. Looks like you’ve done stained glass before?

-- "--Build Beauty to leave to those who appreciated it , not to ungrateful kids..."

View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 3241 days

#2 posted 04-21-2014 08:26 PM

Thanks – I think this is the 4th stained glass project I’ve done. I made two different sconce designs (both Greene & Greene renditions) that required glass panels. It’s actually pretty straightforward stuff to do.

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View AandCstyle's profile


3287 posts in 3145 days

#3 posted 04-21-2014 11:54 PM

Joe, this is a very nice piece. The glass really sets it off and the finish does a great job of highlighting the outstanding grain. Thanks for sharing.

-- Art

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 2758 days

#4 posted 04-22-2014 02:40 AM

This looks great. Sometimes I wonder why people spend so much time on multi-step finishes, but I see in pieces like this it really pays off. Thanks for sharing.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View JoeMcGlynn's profile


219 posts in 3241 days

#5 posted 04-22-2014 12:55 PM

siavosh – thanks. I’m no expert on finishing (or glass or wood for that matter). What I did do, which was a huge help I think, was to finish several samples of the same white oak and see what worked best. I also checked the samples against the glass I was using to see if any of them worked better with the color of the main glass.

I did two different dye/stain combos, a natural piece and several fumed samples with different fuming times and different topcoats (oil vs. shellac). I picked the one I liked best, then tweaked the process to try to improve the “pop” of the ray flecks.

Writing about it makes it sound formulaic, but it was more organic and experimental getting to the end result. I’m definitely relieved it came out nice—when I had just the dye on it the finish looked pale orangish and I was a little worried :)

-- Blog:

View Ken90712's profile


17909 posts in 4076 days

#6 posted 04-23-2014 10:25 AM

I can see why she is pleased. Great work and very nice details. One to be proud of….

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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