This cabinet does have a door but I want to make a very simple stained glass insert for it before I put it on. Mouse made this for me, along with the coolest drawer and 'skirt' for underneath the bathroom countertop. He is, by trade, a cabinet maker and does some really pretty work. I wanted a very simple wall cabinet for the bath so he made this from my description. I've had it for a while but really need to get off my butt and get it installed, so today I started with the first coat of finish. I am using a spar varnish, as I did on all the woodwork in the bath. It is the best kind of finish you can use on anything that might be exposed to water. Not that I expect to be flinging water all over the walls and stuff but you never know....just messin'. The humidity produced in a bath is reason enough to use a spar. Now, spar is a type of varnish, not a brand. It has a slight odor until dry but not overwhelming and imparts a soft, golden glow to most woods. You can easily see which areas I have applied it to in the photo.
Now, your finish is only going to look as good as the tools you use, so buy a decent brush! A Purdy or similar and make sure it is for the type of finish you are applying. Not all paint brushes are for paint! Some are only for varnish or oil-based stuff etc. It will say plainly on the cover what that brush is for and yes, you should only buy brushes that come in the cardboard covers unless it is just for some real messy something that you are not going to see later.
Sand your piece well and the last pass should be with a fine paper like a 200 grit. Then, go over the piece well with a tack cloth, or at least a lightly damp cloth, to remove the dust. Make sure it's as clean as you can get it.
Apply one coat (not too thickly) and make sure you don't have any runs. Now, after this dries and you run your hand over the piece, it's going to feel rough but that's okay. Sand it again with the 200 grit and clean with the tack cloth. Apply a second coat of finish. When that dries you can feel it and decide if you want it smoother. The more you sand and reapply the finish, the slicker the piece will get.
This is an old painter's trick to extend the life of your sandpaper that some of you might not know. If you don't have a sanding block this is a good way to make a stiff surface for your paper and not screw your paper up. Fold one sheet in quarters to crease it and then tear one crease only to the center of the sheet.
Fold one quarter up so the the paper back is together.
Fold that quarter (which is actually two) over so that the abrasive side of one is touching the paper back of the other half.
Then, just fold up that last quarter. The idea is that none of the abrasive sides should be touching, so it will not wear itself out. You can then refold the paper as one quarter wears out and it provides a stiffer sanding surface than just one sheet of paper would. Pretty cool huh?! Those old painters do know a few things.
I also put the last finish coat on the drawer and skirt, so I should install them tomorrow. I'll post pics when I get that finished.