Finish Line: Original Arts and Crafts
Five steps to create an aged Arts-and-Crafts finish
Synopsis: This companion piece to Nancy Hiller’s Arts and Craft Wall Shelf shows how to apply an original Arts and Crafts finish. Hiller uses a five-step process that incorporates techniques from other well-known finishers. First she dyes the oak with a water-based dye, then adds a oil-based stain to bring out the figure. A coat of amber shellac seals the piece, followed by gel stain added to parts of the piece to simulate an aged look. Add a topcoat and the process is complete.
Whenever clients want cabinets to look original to a late-19th- or early-20th-century-style home, I use this finish. I have borrowed techniques from two well-known finishers to create a period look. While the five steps to this Arts and Crafts finish may seem daunting, the execution is actually quite painless.
Dye and stain increase color and contrast
Before applying any finish, sand all parts to P180-grit, then use water to raise the grain and gently sand again with P180-grit.
Jeff Jewitt introduced me to using dyes under oil-based stains to bring out the contrast between the basic grain and the rayfleck patterns of quartersawn oak.
First, dye the oak with a water-based dye solution (I use TransTint’s honey amber, dissolved in water at the ratio of 1 oz. to 1 qt.), applying it quickly and liberally with a foam brush and wiping off the excess with a lint-free cloth. During this step and the next (depending on the woods used), it may be necessary to block out and/or stain the inlay to maintain contrast. In this case, I carefully placed a sealer coat of clear shellac over the inlay after it had been glued in place and sanded, but before applying the amber dye. To knock back any raised grain, lightly sand…