Napkin Holder

  • Advertise with us
Project by cmmyakman posted 07-21-2018 03:14 PM 1406 views 6 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was a project requested a couple of years ago by my darling wife. My wife’s patience is amazing as she only asked for it before Christmas’ or Birthdays. I was finally able to deliver the napkin holder in early July.

The napkin holder we used for years was made by my Uncle’s brother (that’s the dark napkin holder on the left in the first picture). I thought the early napkin holder was made by my Grandfather, but my Mom recently corrected me so now I am not quite as aggravated to lose it from sentimental value, though he was an awesome “Uncle.” The old napkin holder, when you grabbed a napkin, the whole stack would come out. With this new design, when you grab a napkin, you get only that top napkin, the whole reason for my wife wanting a new napkin holder.

I learned a couple of new things while making this piece. 1. As the final thickness of my stock will change based on how well I glued up the pieces and how much planing/sanding they need, the interior dimensions are all that really matter, just so the end product is sufficiently large enough to cradle the napkins. Originally, I designed the piece with external dimensions. 2. Hammering the splines before inserting gave no gaps in the final piece (the kids helped me with that), so we will be doing that from hence forth. 3. I’ve used shellac before, but with mixed results. I got my best results yet on this project by using twice as much alcohol to dissolve the shellac flakes than was used in the past. The lower concentration kept the shellac wetter for longer so I could put it on and get it smooth before it “dried” in a weird way. I used to just put enough alcohol in to cover the flakes, this time I added a bit more.

This website showed me that shellac was the best method for finishing the napkin holder. But his statement, ” For example, if you need the protection that a polyurethane provides, you can apply that on top of dewaxed shellac and get the best of both worlds – the figure pop and the protection ” did not work, at least for me, as the wipe-on poly dies not set over the shellac on a test section.

I’m pretty happy with the end result, but the most important aspect is the Mrs. is happy with it.

Here is a link to further pics that describes more of the build process:

Materials List:
Curly Maple Wood
Padauk Wood (centerline and splines)
1/8” Plywood
1/8” diameter brass rod
Blonde de-waxed shellac
Renaissance Wax
(4) Self-Adhesive Vinyl Bumpers for the feet

-- You can't fail if you don't give up.

4 comments so far

View palaswood's profile


1061 posts in 2907 days

#1 posted 07-24-2018 10:01 PM

Wives are always patient with us. Or they’d never get anything made :)

Its a great idea and a fine job.

What you made sounds like Shellac Polish, which is wetter and thinner, and in being so thin will dry very fast and many coats can be applied in a day.

I find the key is to buff in between dry coats with 0000 Steel wool. (make sure to get ALL the steel hair fibers that flake off, or they will embed in the finish.)

And i find that just one wipe per coat is best. Not to go over it again once applied wet, just let it dry, abrade it with the steel wool and repeat.

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

View cmmyakman's profile


345 posts in 3812 days

#2 posted 07-25-2018 12:50 AM

Thank you very much for the comment Joseph.

It took some time, but I found shellac polish (most of it refers to women’s nails). I think this is actually a very informative link (thank you for the insight).

Shellac dries in about 30 minutes and can be recoated after four hours. Let the new shellac set for a full four hours. Make sure drying time is adequate. Shellac is soft, and it can pick up sandpaper grains or steel wool shreds if it isn’t completely dry. This can result in a nightmare of smoothing to remove the debris.

I actually did what you wrote, but unfortunately I didn’t always wait long enough for the finish to dry before buffing with the steel wool. I’ll give some more time to dry before abrading with the steel wool.

-- You can't fail if you don't give up.

View Luis M's profile

Luis M

94 posts in 3786 days

#3 posted 08-14-2018 01:48 PM

It only took you 2yrs to build? Not bad. I took a lot longer to build the night stands I promised my wife. Even after buying all the lumber…

-- Luis

View cmmyakman's profile


345 posts in 3812 days

#4 posted 08-14-2018 02:44 PM

A pair of night stands ( ) with complex drawers or a simple napkin holder… I think you get a pass on the complexity of your build for the time you took. I’m surprised the Mrs. didn’t string me up for my epic procrastination, while perhaps you did deserve an index finger wag.

-- You can't fail if you don't give up.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics