I had to laugh today when I read Beau's account, over at Foxhaven Journal, of his construction of one, little chicken coop door that took him all day to do. I told him not to feel bad; it took me all weekend to install 3 measly shelves in my pantry! In my defence, these boards were a little rough when I got them. Apparently, they had been out in the warehouse of the lumber yard for some time and two of them had discolored somewhat. So, I spent all day Saturday sanding and filling and sanding and sanding some more before I got a consistent enough surface on all of them to finally apply the finish.
I got a pretty good deal on these though and they are basically clear (no knots), so I am very happy with them.
One reason I got a pretty good price is because they are actually stair treads and did not have to be milled specifically for me. These are five-quarter pine boards and you can see their original purpose by the bullnose on one side. I actually like square edges for shelves but was willing to live with this. It still looks nice. Now, when I say a five-quarter board, that means the finished dimension is a full one inch thick. All dimensional lumber refers to it's rough-sawn measurements, not the finished size, thus a five-quarter board does start out as 1 1/4" thick.
I could have gotten some 1x12's at Lowe's for a good price but I wanted something with more strength and heft. Besides, it just looks nicer.
Now, you can see in this pic, a slight bit of cupping in one of the board but some of that was cut out and the rest can usually be gotten out in the installation.
I ordered full 8' boards, knowing that my pantry is only 7'-6" wide, so that I could square up the ends and possibly cut off any rough end. Due to this, I was able to cut this knot out and get a perfectly clear board. You always want to check the ends for square before you cut. Don't ever assume the factory ends are going to be square. Sometimes I'll recut the ends just to get a nicer, smoother cut and then measure my length from that.
Since these boards are going to be in my pantry, loaded with food, I wanted to apply a very non-toxic sealer. Now, I realize that once a polyurethane is cured it is basically inert and probably not going to affect anything but I like the beeswax finish and I know it is pure and natural. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it makes the house smell like honey. Obviously, the far board on the right has not had the wax applied and you can see how much the finish darkens the wood. This is actually a 50/50 mixture of natural (no petroleum distillation) linseed oil and beeswax. It is almost solid in the can and you have to carefully heat it to apply. Once heated, it becomes very fluid and brushes on easily. I apply one thin coat and then let dry for 24 hours. Then it is buffed with a soft cloth and 000 steel wool. This has no stain on it at all; just the wax and I absolutely love how it brings out the beauty of the grain and does not obscure anything. I have a serious penchant for the looks of natural wood. Heh, that and men with neatly trimmed facial hair. Yum.
Ahem, okay...what were we talking about? So, anyway, tomorrow I'll show you the finished product. It is SO wonderful having usable, permanent pantry shelves! Now, I just need to see about having the base cabinet made and I'll be well on my way to finishing that room.