I’ve been making slow and steady progress behind the scenes updating our new kitchen cabinets, but I waited until Monday of this week to begin serious staining efforts because it’s so damn messy.
Despite Pete pointing out to me on Saturday that I had paint streaks in my hair, to which I couldn’t recall the last time I painted anywhere near my head, I don’t try to look like a dried paint glob when I leave the house, and the fact of the matter is, stained finger cuticles take time to self-correct and are hard to cover up while they do. What I’m getting at is that stained extremities be not a friend to someone who has party dresses to don, but now that the calendar has cleared up again for a few weeks, I will be putting myself on house arrest, getting messy, and staining my sweet little kitchen.
This is update #1 of ? Let’s dive into the java.
1. Sanding cabinets by hand with 150 grit sandpaper sheets is not relaxing.
It’s the opposite of relaxing. And it’s the opposite of a balanced workout, as now my right bicep is notably larger and more sore than any other muscle on my body. I used one full sheet of sandpaper for every three doors, and completed sanding both sides of the first batch of 11 doors over the course of one day. Loud music, SiriusXM Cosmo radio, and dog kisses were a good distraction, and if you don’t have access to those in your shop, you may as well just hire out to have someone else do the work for you. And if it’s humid, and specifically if your ankles swell when its humid, forgetaboutit.
Specific note: Remember how test 1 and test 2 engaged a multitool sander? Leave that in the dust and do it by hand like I did in test 3. I believe to have saved myself approximately 9 hours, and that’s not an exaggeration.
2. Stain is messy, but the gel stain concentrate is surprisingly nice to work with.
Instead of wasting more socks, I used a shop rag that has been laundered so many times that it’s very absorbent and has very few loose fibers. The trick to working with gel stains, so I gather, is leaving some of the stain on top of the wood itself to dry, not massaging it in and wiping it dry like you might with more traditional staining projects.
The gel quality of the stain itself can be likened to pudding, and wipes pretty easily from bevels that liquid stain might be inclined to soak into superfast and unevenly.
3. Dude, my hands.
I was able to stain one side of the cabinet doors in just an hour. And then spent another hour cleaning the stain that had not only covered my fingers completely, but had spottily inched up my forearms, to my thighs, and all over the handle of my coffee cup, lip gloss, the dog’s tail, and our screen door handle. I threw out the rag and the foam brush that had been handy in hard to access bevels.
No, I’m not wearing nail polish in this picture…
Yesterday, after the cabinet doors had been given 24 hours to dry, I flipped the entire operation and applied a coat of stain to the opposite side of each door. I presume this will continue as a daily event until I complete the kitchen, or find that I’ve permanently discolored my skin. For what it’s worth, I did try wearing rubber gloves during one of the tests but found it harder to wield the rag and evenly apply the stain in the cracks if my fingernails weren’t directly aiding in the process.
Talk about hands on. I can’t wait to get a second coat on these cabinet doors and begin to work on the framework in the kitchen.
More to come.
Editor’s Update: See the finished cabinets right here.
Looking for the Gel Stain that I used to stain the kitchen cabinets? I could not find it in stores, and my best resource was General Finishes via Amazon. Learn more about the product and purchase it for yourself right here.