Wood Talk

Using fillers when designing kitchen cabinets

If you’ve got the right tools, frameless kitchen cabinets are easy to build. They’re just boxes, and if you don’t want to use any fancy joinery, you can glue and screw them together. The tricky thing about cabinets is figuring out how to make them fit into the room and work with whatever appliances and structural elements are around them.

Corners can often seem like challenging situations. How do you get two cabinets to meet up in a corner so that the drawers or doors open completely on both? With frameless cabinets, there are several ways to answer this question, and almost all of them involve fillers. You can build one upper with a fixed panel (we call this a blind panel in the cabinet industry) and install this cabinet about an inch away from the end of the wall. Then install an upper on the perpendicular wall about 2” from the face of that fixed panel. When both boxes are in place, cut a 2” filler and attach it to the second cabinet from the inside.

Use fillers and blind panels to handle corners.

If you don’t like the fixed panel idea, you could use a filler on each cabinet instead. Just install the boxes far enough from the corner (cabinet depth + desired filler width). Another option is to build an angled cabinet or one with a 90-degree shape.

There are different ways to handle corners, but the method described here is the most common for upper cabinets. Whenever you’re designing kitchen cabinets to fit into corners, tight spaces or odd shapes, think about fillers and blind panels.

Finish to old Furniture

I applied a furniture polish to the left half of this crazed finish and paste wax to the right half (with an inch gap in the middle). The furniture polish highlights the crazing.

Here’s a problem you’re probably familiar with if you have old furniture or woodwork: finishes that are crazed. Old crazed finishes are very fragile. They damage easily. The best thing you can do to reduce damage is apply a slick furniture polish or paste wax.

Slick furniture polishes are those that contain silicone oil. This oil is much slicker than mineral oil, for example. You can put a dab of each oil between the thumb and forefinger of each hand and easily feel the difference when you rub them together. Most furniture polishes in aerosol containers and also Orange Glo contain silicone oil, though manufacturers never tell you this because refinishers, conservators and antique dealers have given “silicone” an undeserved bad reputation. But consumers love these polishes because they perform better than polishes that don’t contain silicone oil.

The problem with any furniture polish on a crazed finish, however, is that the polish highlights the crazing.

So for old crazed surfaces applying paste wax is the better solution.

Staining Wood

I’ve run into this problem often enough that I thought it worth discussion: People apply a stain and don’t have enough time to get the excess wiped off before the stain dries. The results are streaks that are difficult to remove.

It used to be that all stains carried by home centers and paint stores were oil stains – that is, stains that thin and clean up with mineral spirits. They were usually labeled “petroleum distillate” on the can, but sometimes (I’m talking about you, Minwax and General Finishes) they were labeled aliphatic hydrocarbons, I suspect to make you think the stain was special.

But in the last few decades, water-based stains and gel stains have become available in these stores and have caused problems with some people because they dry much faster. (I need to add that “lacquer” stains, thinned with acetone, are also often available in paint stores that cater to professionals; these stains also dry fast.)

Oil stains are easy to apply because you have plenty of time to wipe excess stain off – even on large objects. True, you should give oil stains six hours or longer in a warm room to dry before applying a finish, but it’s hard to screw up the application.

Gel stains, and especially water-based stains, dry rapidly and there’s no way to slow them down without thinning them, which lightens the color and destroys the gel benefit of reduced blotching.

If you are staining an object large enough that you won’t have time to get the excess wiped off without leaving streaks, seek a second person to help. One of you can apply the stain, and the other wipe off the excess to get an even color. Practice on scrap wood to get a feel for the timing.

Remove Crayon and Candle wax from Wood

Want to be a hero with friends and relatives?  There are two tricks worth trying.

Crayons are made of wax - wax dissolves in turpentine and mineral spirits. None of these damage finished coats of wood furniture (except if the finish is a wax).  

To remove crayon and wax marks, simply wipe over the surface with a cloth dampened with one of these solvents (use in moderation).

Make sure there is no acetone in the products used to remove the crayon and wax.

Acetone will damage most finishes, read the ingredients to be sure there is no acetone included.

You can use turpentine or mineral spirits to remove candle wax also, but it will take longer.  It is much faster to apply an ice-cube to the dripped candle wax to freeze it and cause it to break its bond to the finish. Simply peel it off with your fingernail.

If there is residue wax remaining, remove it with turpentine or mineral spirits.

Meranti Trees

In the Phillippines, as well as elsewhere in their range, Shorea trees might be called red or white 

lauan, tangile, almon, as well as “dark-red meranti” or "light-red meranti”.But it is meranti 

that makes up the greatest proportion of timber that’s sold as Phillippine mahogany.Meranti

traditionally grows in well-drained soils at low altitudes.Meranti can grow up to 60m in height

and 1.8m diameter at the trunk making it any lumberman’s dream to work with.


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