Reply by Lovegasoline

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Posted on Sanding Before and After Zinsser Sealcoat Shellac ( topcoat is General Finishes H20 Poly)

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176 posts in 1048 days

#1 posted 08-31-2020 01:11 AM

I’m also not sure what grain pop means I don’t see anything in the drawer sides that really merits any effort. Most put all the efforts in the drawer fronts.
- Aj2

That’s fine Aj2. Thanks for your input.

The direction this thread has taken – in my eyes – is more complicated than the actual issue at hand.
The outcome I’m seeking is some decent level of contrast between end grain and the surrounding wood so as to accentuate what to my eyes is the beauty of dovetail joinery (some may find dovetails ugly so may differ on aesthetic issues and beauty). Also if possible, a little richness to the grain via some small degree of ‘pop’. Oftentimes water base finishes (or at least older incarnations in the earlier days) tended to be dull lifeless finishes on light woods.

Based on advice, the shellac Sealcoat was applied with the added function of sealing the grain and dealing with any grain raising/sanding.

Also and in my own (albeit limited experience) all shellac (even the premium offerings of ‘platinum’ or ‘super’ or ‘ultra’ blonds mixed recently from fresh flakes that have not been stored long in the raw flake state) adds some tone to the wood, it’s not only the so called amber, lemon, garnet, orange, etc. that add tone to wood. So I was hoping for a little of that as well from the ‘clear’ Sealcoat.

But the main thing was a little deepening of the end grain for a bit of contrast. However the opposite seems to have happened with the contrast between the end grain and the rest of the wood being reduced or no effective change.

The appearance of the wood with the denatured alcohol wipe is about what I was after.
The effect of the Sealcoat application has in my eyes diminished the moderate beauty that the drawers exhibited in
the raw wood state.

So, if one can imagine that drawers of this type in the future will come off the workbench with an adjustment dial which shall permit tuning in the dovetail end grain contrast … from extreme contrast to practically no contrast … then I’‘d like to set that dial around the level of the alcohol wiped DTs. Of course that dial does exist, now, in the realm of finishing treatments (and wood selection).

To answer your question:
Grain pop as I understand it in it’s simplest form would be the accentuation of grain via contrast. So perhaps an issue of tonality or grain structures. This occurs differently in difference wood species and treatments. It can be a 2D situation or as in chatoyance it can simulate 3D effects.

The drawer fronts will be painted, blandly, so unlike most who put all efforts in the drawer fronts, doing so in this project will yield no results, nor would I want it to (the selection of hardware pull on the drawer front will merit more effort) and it would reverse the aesthetic effect. So in this case the aesthetics is the painted drawer front, the hardware, and the drawers sides (plus the drawer interior: the objects therein, the spacing and proportion, the textures, surfaces, and patterns). The drawer sides will also be in discourse to the rest of the wood in the room. It’s more downplayed. The exposed wood is in use in measured doses throughout the room, it provides a background and accent but in balance with other materials. In which case small details – like drawer sides – come into play. Hopefully there’s also something occurring on the level of proportion through the space and also, hopefully as I hone it in over time, the flow and movement of the eye – in speed, direction, punctuation, rest, activity, tight vs. wide focus … across surfaces and in time. There’s the factor of light as well … color has been reduced so slight shifts in hue and tone will become more prominent and texture (possibly pattern) will add another dimensional layer. I’m working with structures that are in place rather than redesigning from whole cloth, although there’s also been a little of that, so it’s a slow reshaping of forms over time to achieve a more harmonic balance.

So in this case, the sides of the drawers play a role. The DTs add pattern and the hue/tone of the end grain will be reaching out in communication with other small details in the space. A degree of contrast there will provide a point to slow the eye and focus … and connect it with other details in a slower background rhythm.

The rationale for the use of shellac with the dovetailed drawers is described below …. however in addition to that I wanted to use it as a finish on other drawers and a case interior both from another piece of furniture. The latter will hold drawing supplies so I didn’t want bare wood for the drawers, I wanted a little protection from marks, dirt, graphite shavings, etc. and with fingers crossed even spills with a potential for being able to clean the drawers a little vs. unfinished wood, and due to the lack of egregious off gassing odor with shellac I thought it was a great candidate. That it’s easy to spray was also a factor. Expediency played a part.

-- “It is the beginning of wisdom to recognize that most men are fools and knaves, but it is the end of wisdom to embrace that vision.” -Arthur Kleps

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