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    Part III: Build a Shaker Wall Cabinet





    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    Learn how to finish off your Shaker wall cabinet with a distressed milk paint finish.In the previous two installments of our Shaker wall cabinet project, we tackled basic box construction using biscuit joinery, and followed up with lessons on door construction and the addition of a decorative arch. Now in our third and final installment, we'll add a distressed milk paint finish that will leave your cabinet looking as if its been around for well over a century.

    Milk PaintMilk paint is an age-old recipe that's safe and easy to apply. You can purchase it from the Old Fashioned Milk Paint company. Woodworker Michael Dunbar uses the product frequently and his plan for a Step-Back Cupboard is a brilliant example of its beauty. Better yet, if you apply multiple colors to your furniture--one color directly over another--you can sand through the top coats in typically high-wear spots like corners and edges to reveal multiple colors of paint. It would appear that you've got a piece that's been around for decades and has seen its fair share of paint schemes.

    There is one caveat, however. Use this technique sparingly. A real antique doesn't have wear marks will-nilly all over the place. Wear happens where contact happens - especially repeated contact. The area right below the bottom corner of a door is a spot that typically sees a lot of wear as hinges begin to sag over time, thus buttong the bottom of the door into contact with the frame that surrounds it. Take your time, and be purposeful. This is a techique that actually requires a great deal of thought to execute correctly. To sum it up succinctly: less is more.

    Follow the Entire Project Series

    Shaker Cabinet Breaks the Rules
    Build a Shaker Wall Cabinet, Step-by-Step
    Part II: Build a Shaker Wall Cabinet
    Part III: Build a Shaker Wall Cabinet (Distressed Finish)


    How to Make

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paint: At this point, your cabinet should have already been sanded with 220-grit sandpaper. Begin the finishing process by mixing up your barn red Milk Paint. Combine equal parts of warm water and powder, and feel free to add a bit more water if the mix seems too thick (as we did). Stir thoroughly--you don't want globs of powder contaminating an otherwise smooth finish. You can also filter the final mixture through a bit of cheese cloth if you wish.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 2: Apply the Paint: We chose to apply our milk paint with a synthetic bristle brush. You might also consider using a foam brush, which doesn't leave bristle marks. Your first coat of paint is guaranteed to look terrible. That's ok. Subsequent applications of paint will build up an even coat.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 3: Sand it Down: Since this is a water-based finish, the wood's grain will raise when you apply that first coat of paint. Use a sanding block and some 220-grit sandpaper to knock down those raised fibers. Use a light touch.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 4: Vacuum the Dust: For a smooth, consistent finish, be sure to always vacuum the cabinet in between each step.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 5: Apply a Second Coat of Red: As you apply the second coat of red paint, you'll quickly notice that the finish evens out with subsequent coats.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 6: Steel Wool for a Smooth Surface: Use 0000 (the finest grade) steel wool to smooth out the cabinet's surface after this second coat of red paint. Be sure to hit every nook and cranny for a nice, even finish. Be sure to thoroughly vacuum the cabinet after completing this step.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 7: Apply Black Paint: After vacuuming, apply your first coat of black milk paint.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 8: More Steel Wool: Again, use steel wool to smooth out and even burnish the surface of the cabinet.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 9: Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum: Again, be sure to pick up all the steel wool filings and paint dust you stirred up in the previous step. Performing a good cleanup in between coats is crucial to a nice finish.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 10: Drill a Countersink for Your Knob: Before applying the second and final coat of black paint, it's important to take care of any pilot holes you may need drilled for the application of a knob. For her cabinet, Lisa chose an antiqued brass knob that attaches with a screw from the inside of the cabinet door. Her first step was to use a forstner bit to drill a countersink for the head of the screw. You don't want that screw head poking out above the surface of the door's interior. Remember, this countersink hole goes on the INSIDE of the door.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 10: Drill Pilot Holes for Your Knob: Now drill the pilot hole for the screw to pass through the door. Use the center point of your countersink hole as your alignment point and drill straight through the door with an appropriate-sized twist drill or brad point bit. Be sure to put a piece of scrap wood beneath the door, to prevent blowout on the other side when the drill bit passes through.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 11: Apply More Black Paint: Apply a second, and final coat of milk paint to the cabinet and door. Consider adding a third coat if necessary.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 12: Even More Steel Wool!: Smooth out the second coat of black paint using your trusty steel wool pads. Then follow up by vacuuming away the dust and debris.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 13: Sandpaper Provides an Antique Look: Use 320-grit sandpaper to carefully break through the top coats of black paint, thus revealing the "older" red paint beneath. The key to the distressing process is to use it sparingly. Think about where a cabinet might naturally get dinged or scratched up. Corners like this one are perfect candidates. Sand with a light touch, checking your progress frequently.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 14: Sandpaper Provides an Antique Look: The peg hole in the arched top is a perfect example of where paint would natrually become worn. Years of taking the cabinet on and off a peg would naturally wear away some of the paint. Another spot you might want to distress is the area around the door pull.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 15: Burnish the Finish: With your distressing done, grab another steel wool pad and burnish the finish with a bit of pressure. Your paint should begin to take on a slightly glossed look as a result of all the burnishing. Once you're done, be sure to vacuum (yet again).

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 16: An Oil Finish Over Paint: The final steps of this antique finishing process involve the application of an oil finish over the milk paint. This is where the rubber really hits the road and the cabinet finish really begins to shine. Mix equal parts of boiled linseed oil and mineral spirits.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 17: An Oil Finish Over Paint: Use a foam brush to apply a coat of oil to the entire cabinet and door. You're not painting a masterpiece here, just coating the surface. Give the oil a few minutes to be absorbed by the wood.

    Step 1: Mix Your Milk Paintclick to enlarge

    Step 18: An Oil Finish Over Paint: After a few minutes have passed, wipe away the excess oil using lint-free rags. You may find that you'll have to come back every 30 minutes or so, as the oil continues to dry, to mop up even more excess oil. Apply 2-3 coats of oil in this manner and then allow it to dry for 1-2 weeks (yes, it takes that long to cure). Then follow up with a quick coat of paste wax for a super-smooth finish.



    Ed_Pirnik