The toil of the William and Mary Bookstand was approaching a close. I had dodged all the pit falls that could have done the both of us in and now I was to the moment in a project where it becomes make or break. The dreaded glue-up.
Now glue ups get a bad rap sometimes as a time for high stress. It can be that moment in time when all the hours sizing, planing and joining result in nothing better than flotsam driftwood floating in the cow pasture pond. It can also be that wonderful moment when all that hard work comes together into a realized piece that pulls together your individual effort, ingenuity, and creativity.
Or, preferably, the experience exists somewhere between those two extremes.
But anytime you add some moving pieces to the glue up mix, you do up the ante some.
The glue ups done, and the final sanding over, it was time to work towards the finish. I will readily admit that finishing is the weakest of all my skills in woodworking, so I did some more reading to solve the question of how I should tackle the task this time. I had this beautiful air dried walnut and I needed to do it justice and yet retain a look that was in congruence with the William and Mary style. My savior was Bob Flexner and his great book "Flexner on Finishing"
In that book was a specific article on finishing walnut, and it included the idea that you should use a stain to help even out the variation between the light sap wood and the dark heart wood. Here's my admission, I hadn't used a stain product in years, when I started in sawdust I often fell on the singular thought you finished pieces with a stain and polyurethane and I was always disappointed with my results. Then I happened upon the oil finishes of Danish oil and Tung oil and my world changed.
But now I was ready to put my toe back into stains. I went and perused my options at the local home center and came home with a small can of a dark finish named "Jacobean"
I applied the finish and wiped it off after several minutes. Then I hit it with a hand sanding of 400 grit paper to lighten the effect a bit and expose a subtle amount of the color difference underneath the stain.
In the end I think that makes it a very worthwhile piece to spend some time with. There are many lessons to learn, not just when it comes to joinery and planing, but more importantly, lessons in making a piece that is complex in it's creation, yet simple and elegant in it's appearance. There is true beauty and art in such endeavors.
To finish up this article, a couple of vanity shots of the completed piece.