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This project started with my wife mentioning that she would like a coat hanger near the door at our cabin that we have in Michigan. Her though was……"get a pine board and put some hooks on it and we will have instant esthetics and function". She also knows me and how long it takes me to get a project done that is anything more than just a single board. She was right….however…I had a different vision…..:)

Fortunately, (For her)I was able to get the construction done in a weekend. From looking at it, you would think it should take anyone only a few hours, however it was the design/dimensions that took most of the time. It was one of those things where I had a picture in my head of what I wanted but nothing else. I only had a hand drawn mockup on a napkin to make sure my wife liked the concept. (Which she did, but she still truly just wanted a board with hooks on it  ) "The customer is not always right" I told her.

I decided on using cedar over pine just based on aesthetics and availability of cheap dimensional cedar at the Lowes near me. The top and sides were milled from a cedar 2×6 and the coat hook area was from a 5/4 cedar decking plank. I mocked it up with dimensional lumber before I started messing with the cedar. It was just trial and error to get the right look. The construction was slightly less than ½ lap joinery with the top and sides to give it more of a 3D timber frame look while making sure everything sat flush on the wall. The main part where the hooks are is then rabbited into the top and the sides from the back to also remain flush with the wall while giving me a glue surface.

The troubling part was when I went to finish it. Now, I'm the type of person that always likes to experiment and try new things. So giving shellac a go seemed like a "great" idea. I did a test with a small piece of the cedar using some Zinsser amber shellac. I thought it really looked great on the test piece. Unfortunately, since that it was my first time with shellac, I didn't think to change the standard 3lb cut from the can. When I applied it… came out all blotchy with drips and brush strokes. It was one of those pit in your stomachs you get when you realize that you might have ruined your project with finishing it. (Although I'm sure nobody else here knows the feeling  )

I ended up having to try to re-melt the shellac off the wood with denatured alcohol and a rag after it dried. It took me forever, but I eventually got it evened out and looking half way decent. I cut the shellac down to a 1lb mix and then put a couple more coats on it while sanding in-between.

My next mistake was that I didn't realize how truly glossy shellac is. My test piece was satin looking…because it was only one coat. (in hindsight) A full gloss was not what I expected. It looked just terrible and not at all what I had envisioned. My wife's "single piece of wood with hooks on it" concept started to look real attractive.

Fortunately, after searching on how to make shellac appear satin, I ran across and article talking about using 0000 Steel wool and furniture polish. Some Renaissance wax and the steel wool did the trick. (After about an hour of rubbing it out) In hind sight, I would have also made sure to use a dewaxed shellac and then I could have just top coated it with a satin varnish. Or maybe I just stick with an oil next time. 



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19,698 Posts
Wow nice it really fits the cabin motif

· Registered
113 Posts
Looks great…gives me a great idea for a present for my father in laws place at the lake. Thanks for the detail.