Inching Along. Ecstatically!

Last week I returned from Dr. Doug with newly made bits to the south butler’s pantry cabinet. These new bits are replacing long-lost bits, like the two drawers! And the wood counter (not shown) which will go above the drawers, and the two upper-most shelves (not shown) which are 1-1/8-inches thick and, as such, had to be custom-made because, you know, what a horror anything less would be.


I am hoping that the staining will match.

I am hoping I can find the right drawer pulls.



  1. Seth Hoffman on March 11, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    Small but exciting progress!

  2. Patty on March 12, 2019 at 1:23 am

    Wow, where do u get it ,Ross? Working in the pantry, the upstairs hall, outside shingling, and who knows how many other projects you have on the go as well as your lighting business. Hats off to you my amazing friend!!!! Oh,let’s not forget you keep us up to date with these posts which I check every day!!!Do you ever sleep?

  3. Emily on March 12, 2019 at 8:03 am

    I’m sure there’s a bunch of places that sell house parts – I happen to live near one here with a great website – Historic House Parts might have the bin pulls you’re looking for. Or similar ones to the mid-west style as we’re New York over here.

    Keep it up, such exciting progress!!!

  4. Stewart Mclean on March 12, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Hi Ross,
    This is for anyone who may be interested. Take what you like, and leave the rest.

    Matching stains is one of the hardest things to do, especially on a softwood like pine. I have a few suggestions that come with many years of doing just that.

    Be sure that you have sanded the wood with fine enough grit sandpaper
    — a. I sand using a sequence of grits starting with 120 then 220 and finally 320 on furniture or any wood that, unlike floors, can be seen up close during normal usage.
    — b. I use wet or dry sandpaper, which is usually available in the finer grits at a hardware store. There is no need to use wet or dry sandpaper for 120 grit paper or coarser. The numbers are supposed to reflect the number of pieces of grit that fit on a one square inch piece of paper. (for those who might be interested, I have ordered sandpaper sheets in bulk from Industrial Abrasives for years. I don’t give recommendations, and I don’t think they sell in quantities below 50 sheet sleeves per grit. I don’t know if one can order individual sheets or a mixed sleeve. Here is a link to the page on their site with wet or dry sandpaper in sheets.
    — c. Each grit can only remove the scratches left by the previous one. If 120 grit does not remove all of the scratches left by tools, previous sanding etc, I go back and sand with 80 grit first. Thoroughly sand until all visible marks are gone. One way to see marks that are left is to wet the surface with thinner. scratches usually pop up then. When you have thorough sanded with 220 grit, repeat, wetting the paper by dipping it in the thinner. Do the same with 320 grit and you will have a super smooth surface that will show the wood grain without any scratches. The grain of freshly sanded wood rise when finish is applied to it, leaving a rough surface. Wet sanding usually removes the grain that will rise before finish is applied. Doing this means that most of the grain that is likely to rise when liquids, such as stains and finishes, are applied, is already gone when stain and finish are applied.
    — a. I use artist’s oil paints in tubes for most staining. With it I get high quality pigment for a fraction of the cost of canned stains and I can custom mix my colors. You only use a little bit of the tube on a small project like the drawers. I use Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna on wood almost exclusively. Burnt Umber darkens the wood and Burnt Sienna gives it a reddish orange color. I start with burnt sienna on pine and I darken with burnt umber.
    — b. The pigment is easily applied with a pad of folded paper towel, which has been dipped in thinner. Squeeze a little bit of pigment onto the towel and rub it into the wood. You control the amount of pigment. If it is too light put more pigment on your pad and rub it in. If it is too dark, wipe the surface with clean thinner. Wipe the surface with a dry towel at the end so that the grain is clearly seen. You will not be wiping it dry, you will simply be using a flat piece of towel so that the pigment neither obscures the grain, nor leaves any visible streaks. If the grain does rise at this point you can wet sand with 320 grit again and reapply stain as needed. The final finished surface will look like it does when the pigment is wet. If you can’t see the grain of the wood clearly, the you need to wipe more off with the dry towel. If you can’t get the look that you want with one coat, you can do more.
    I wipe on multiple, (four to seven) coats of thinned shellac as my finish. I wipe it on quickly, and, being an alcohol based finish, each coat of shellac will dry very quickly. The first coat will remove some of the pigment unless the stain has thoroughly dried. If you are using another finish that is a solvent for oil based paint, it can lift a lot of stain even if it has dried, unless you wipe each coat on and off quickly. A shellac finish with multiple thin coats gives a superior appearance to fewer thicker ones. A single coat of shellac can even go under another finish as a sealer.

    • Liz on August 18, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Stewart, thanks for your advice! I’m a wannabe restorer and am grateful to you for sharing your experience.

  5. Marilyn Moon Franks on March 14, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Wow! You are doing some amazing work on the pantry. SO fun watching it come together.

  6. Mike on March 15, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Hope you can match the pulls, too…you have done such an amazing job of finding little bits and putting them back where they belong. Like me, I’m sure that you wish you had a time machine so you could go back to the many instances when changes were being made, and snatch up the items that were being removed and discarded…”Strangest thing, I was taking the hinges off that door this morning when this old fat guy appeared out of no where, grabbed the hinges, and then disappeared again…”

  7. Liz on August 18, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Ross, Do you have plans to paint the inside of the glass-door cabinet? Or install an accent paper?

    • Ross on August 18, 2019 at 12:49 pm

      Hi, Liz!

      The shelves will be stripped of paint, revealing the original pine. The back wall will be painted in the original taupe color.

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