Mahogany Kitchen Stool Project #13: Mask & Prep for finish

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Blog entry by sras posted 06-25-2012 12:54 AM 5702 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: Oxidizing for color Part 13 of Mahogany Kitchen Stool Project series Part 14: Finish is on - all 9 coats! Plus 2 buffing, wax and polish »

I have decided to finish each piece before assembly. The benefit is it will be easier to get an even coat all the way to the end of each piece with no internal corners to catch finish.

The challenge is in keeping the joints clear of finish and eventually working with finished parts during glue-up.

For now, I only need to concern myself with keeping the mortises and tenons free of finish. The tenons were the easy part. I just masked off each one with blue painter’s tape. If I counted right, I ended up taping 264 tenons!

Some of them are pictured here…

I did not concern myself with taping the shoulders of the tenons as the glue joint strength is mainly from the tenon.

I spent some time trying to figure out how to protect the mortises, but I REALLY did NOT want to mask the inside of 264 mortises. Since I will be wiping on the finish, I decided to see if I could just be careful and not let the finish run into the mortises.

The next step was to set up the pieces for finishing. I needed to support each piece such that none of the finished surfaces would be in contact with anything.

For the pieces with a tenon on each end that was pretty easy – just set each tenon on a support rail.

The legs are a little different. They do not have a tenon on the ends. The front legs were set up by screwing a hook into the top. The top of the front leg will eventually be covered by the seat.

The back legs were more of a puzzle. All surfaces are exposed. I guess I could screw a hook into the bottom of the leg, but I did not care for a hole there. It took me a while to figure this out, but I ended up creating a set of stands that supported each leg in the bottom of each of three mortises that run along the inside face. I forgot to take a picture of this during the setup, so these show a preview of the finish work under way.

Now I’m ready to apply the finish. I still need to figure out how to assemble pieces with finish already on them. I have some time to figure that out. It’s all part of the fun.

You’ll notice that the total hours went up by almost 7, about an hour and a half was spent setting up supports for the legs. That leaves about 5 and a half hours for taping tenons. That works out to a little over a minute per tenon!


Current time log:

Cutting rough stock: 2 hr

> Cutting to width and thickness: 4 hr 20 min
> Cut to final length: 3 hr 30 min
> Shaping: 5 hr 50 min
> Mortises: 10 hr 35 min
> Sand & radius edges: 19 hr 35 min
> Oxidize and Final sanding: 3 hr 10 min
> Prep for finish: 1 h 25 min

Seat Back and Back Rest
> Cutting thin stock for laminations: 3 hr 35 min
> Prepping laminations: 8 hr 40 min
> Glue up Laminations: 3 hr 50 min
> Trim Laminated Parts: 2 hr 25 min
> Tenon: 5 hr 40 min
> Mortises: 5 hr 30 min
> Sand & radius edges: 6 hr 10 min
> Oxidize and Final sanding: 1 hr 20 min
> Mask & Prep for finish: 20 min

Back Slats
> Cutting thin stock for laminations: 1 hr 55 min
> Prepping laminations: 3 hr
> Glue up Laminations: 6 hr 5 min
> Trim Laminated Parts: 30 min
> Tenon: 2 hr 50 min
> Sand: 7 hr 35 min
> Oxidize and Final sanding: 1 hr 30 min
> Mask & Prep for finish: 40 min

Lower rail parts
> Cut to width and thickness: 10 hr
> Cut to length: 1 hr 30 min
> Mortise: 4 hr 35 min
> Tenon: 28 hr 30 min
> Sand & radius edges: 15 hr 35 min
> Oxidize and Final sanding: 3 hr 40 min
> Mask & Prep for finish: 2 h 30 min

Corner Blocks
> Cut to size: 1 hr 50 min
> Shape: 1 hr 50 min
> Tenons: 35 min
> Holes: 1 hr

Total so far: 183 hr 35 min (~31 hrs per stool)

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

8 comments so far

View JL7's profile


8752 posts in 3477 days

#1 posted 06-25-2012 01:25 AM

Wow Steve – the average joe has no idea what kind of time goes into the details…....Great to see you are gaining momentum on this big project. Looking forward to the finish…...

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Roger's profile


21011 posts in 3316 days

#2 posted 06-25-2012 02:29 AM

Wow Steve. Like Jeff said. Also, you could hang all those legs from the ceiling like that to get a good wooden tone wind chime/s. Dat’s a lotta mortise n tenons my friend. Super nice also.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View sras's profile


5200 posts in 3641 days

#3 posted 06-25-2012 04:02 AM

So far, so good guys!

Funny Roger – I hadn’t thought of the wind chime comparison! They have bumped together a couple times – tone is kinda dull and they all sound the same. I could change the length to get different notes but that would make pretty crappy stools!

The finish is going on now. I should be able to post that step in a few days.

The problem is, as I get closer to the end, I have more and more time invested in each part and they get harder and harder to fix. From here on out it is a lot of thinking time between each step.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View SPalm's profile


5334 posts in 4394 days

#4 posted 06-25-2012 11:56 AM

My Gosh.
It is really something to see all the work involved – and the time charted.

Good job though. They are really looking good.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Arthouse's profile


250 posts in 3162 days

#5 posted 06-25-2012 01:27 PM

Pre finishing is the only way to go. Pitfalls are gluing and clamping finished pieces. Clamping pressuer on finish for chairs is tough. I always wait 36 hours for the laquer to cure . Clean rags and water for glue cleanup to not dull the finish. Cloth band straps might work here for your chairs. Love you time tracking . Takes discipline . For woodworkers that would be a gift to share . I always want to know if I make five bucks and hour or twenty. Good luck . If you have any more questions let me know I have a lot of experience in pre finished goods.

-- "The hand is the cutting edge of the mind but the wind and sun are the healing factors of the heart

View sras's profile


5200 posts in 3641 days

#6 posted 06-25-2012 02:13 PM

Thanks Steve – I kept track of my hours on one other time on a PL project (Pre LumberJocks). It ended up being twice as many as I had guessed.

Thanks Arthouse for the advice!
I am thinking I’ll need some fixturing to maintain alignment. I think I’ll try to use smooth surfaces to contact the finished surfaces. One other time I tried clamping a finished piece using cloth and the texture of the cloth imprinted on the finish. I am definitely going to need some strap clamps!
If I can think of any questions I’ll be sure to ask – thanks for the offer!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View stefang's profile


16752 posts in 3846 days

#7 posted 06-27-2012 08:51 AM

I wish I could be as well organized and exacting as yourself Steve. I do greatly admire your approach to this work and I’m sure those are going to be smashing stools when finished. You are teaching us how to work properly with your excellent blog. I usually stuff mortises with paper towels to lock out finish. Works well for me.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View sras's profile


5200 posts in 3641 days

#8 posted 06-27-2012 02:10 PM

Thanks Mike! I did not think of the paper towel idea. It looks like keeping them open and avoiding letting finish run in has worked pretty well. The edge of the mortise sometimes has a little finish on it, but no disasters.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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