Friday, January 18, 2013

Wood finishing for beginners (or how we finished my Kiwi 2)

Pieces drying

Working on the composite wheel
In my last post, I wrote about my Kiwi 2 spinning wheel.  When I purchased it, I went for the unfinished version, which, turned into quite a learning experience for my husband and myself when we realized we were going to do have to do the finishing ourselves.  The last thing you want to do when you get your wheel in the mail is spend time finishing it!  I was so disappointed at first.  It was freezing outside, so I knew I wouldn't be able to do anything out there (which limits your options for finishing wood).  I also didn't want to be using toxic chemicals inside my home.  My husband and I began researching options online, reading blogs, Ravelry threads, forums, anything we could to find out what we needed to do.  I also contacted some of my friends who spin to get their opinions.  We found a lot of conflicting information and lots of advice, but we were still unsure what to do.

We went to our local Lowe's store and asked a guy in the woodworking department what he would recommend.  That wasn't very helpful.  The things he wanted us to use were not recommended online for a spinning wheel.  Frustrated and adding to my disappointment, I almost went with this suggestions, but my husband wasn't satisfied.  We went home without purchasing anything, and went back to researching.

The next day, we located an Ace Hardware not far from home.  We spoke with a man there about our project and asked his advice.  We were very happy to hear that he had experience in finishing wood, and he knew what products would be safe to use in our home.  He led us to two products, Minwax water-based Wood Sheen Rubbing Wax & Finish and Howard's Feed n Wax.  I purchased the Rosewood color of the Minwax, thinking it would be nice to have my whole wheel a cherry color to match some of our furniture.  The guy at the store even did a tester to show us what it would look like.  GORGEOUS!  We picked up the other items we would need and headed home in a much better mood.  

The tools we used:  1.  Plastic drop cloth.  2.  Gloves.  3.  Cheesecloth.  4.  Sticky paper.  

**Note:  We did not sand the wood prior to staining.  The guy at the Ace store told us it wasn't necessary given the type of wood we were working with.  We ran the sticky paper over the pieces to be sure there wasn't dust on them before starting, but that was it.  Simple!

The first thing we did was test the Rosewood color on a couple of bobbins.  This was a VERY smart move on my husband's part, because we learned how the Minwax worked, and realized, we didn't want to use it on the whole wheel.  It was a beautiful color, don't get me wrong, BUT it wasn't easy to put on and not have it look like paint.  It was thick, and overlapping showed very prominently.  After 2 bobbins, I headed back to the Ace and purchased the same product in the Natural color.  We decided to do all the parts in the Natural, to really allow the beautiful teak wood to shine through.  Later, I decided to go ahead and use the Rosewood on the composite wheel.  The composite wheel looked like cardboard to me, and the Natural wasn't going to do anything for it.  The Rosewood worked beautifully on the composite wood, and actually made it look more like real wood in the end.  

We did a couple of coats of the natural on all the pieces, using the cheesecloth to apply.  We let each one dry properly in between coats.  Some of the things people recommend using to finish took days to dry, luckily, the Minwax was only a matter of hours.  It really didn't smell too bad either.  I cracked a window (which was FREEZING!), but as far as smells go, it didn't bother me much.

The final touch was to add the Howard's Feed n Wax to the wood (but not on the composite wheel).  This stuff smells like orange and honey, so very pleasant to work with.  It really helped to give the wood a nice look.  I even put some on my niddy noddy (without finishing the wood first) and it turned out very nicely.  

Thought it was a bit more trouble to do the finishing ourselves, I think it was worth it.  I love how it turned out in the end!  

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