Touched up, oiled, and… uh oh

I love the part of the project where I lay the first coat of finish on wood. You never know quite what the finish is going to bring out of the wood, but it turns the piece from a dusty shop project to a beautiful work of art almost instantly.

It also brings out any flaws in the wood or surface preparation into stark relief. This time around I was careful with my finish sanding, so there were no obvious blemishes that were oversights from sanding. Those are easily reparable (if a slight pain in the booty).

No, this time the issue I thought might cause a problem reared its head in spades. I knew already that some of my wood was a little darker than others. When I bought the wood I didn’t stop to look at how or whether the planks (4 or 5 long ones) were the same tone, grain pattern, etc. Even if they weren’t (and they weren’t), I would have been pretty OK if I’d cut all the pieces for a single chair from a single plank of wood. But instead what I did was cut all the rear legs from one plank, all the front ones from another, the curved rails from another, etc. So now what I have (and the photo doesn’t really do it justice) is a chair that looks like it’s made of 3 or 4 different woods (not counting the decorative splat in the middle). Actually, if it had been made of 3 or 4 woods it might have worked, but the contrast is subtle enough that it just looks… confusing. My sweetie looked at it and said it made her eye wander all over the piece taking in the various shades (the curved rails are slighly pinkish, the front and back rails and one side rail signifncantly darker than the legs, the background to the splat a 3rd shade and coarser grain…)

So I think I’m going to go with a stain that matches the table. I was hoping to keep the wood “natural,” but the contrast between the pieces bothers me more the more I look at it. Boy, what a lesson learned! Again, there’s probably no other way to learn it. The stain will even out the contrast, but will also hide some of the beautiful grain in the wood. I’m going to keep the splats natural, and stick with my plan of having each one a different decorative wood (this one is maple – I think it’s more a “pomelle” pattern than “curly”). I’ll post a photo after I’ve done this one.

Meanwhile, I’ve been really getting into a book by Jim Hollis called The Middle Passage: from Misery to Meaning in Midlife. It’s a Jungian description of that change that occurs at midlife, when a lot of the old ways and habits of young adulthood no longer seem to work as well as they did, and profound change is on the horizon. It’s comforting, in a way, to know that the learning and growing never stop!

I hope everyone had a great weekend, and enjoys their week.

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