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  #61 (permalink)  
Old March 14, 2011, 11:06 AM
Keltron 3030's Avatar
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Shitty deals there with the varathane there man. I usually keep mine in a heated basement. did you try mixing it back together? It might do something, you never know

Also, KITTIES!!!!!!

They all remind me of my cat
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  #62 (permalink)  
Old March 15, 2011, 08:20 AM
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so is the desk only going to only have one computer built in now with a kitten station on the other side? bummer about the staining. it can be tough to find the right tint for the right wood. good luck!
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  #63 (permalink)  
Old March 15, 2011, 10:03 AM
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Default Second Staining Attempt

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Originally Posted by Keltron 3030 View Post
Shitty deals there with the varathane there man. I usually keep mine in a heated basement. did you try mixing it back together? It might do something, you never know

Also, KITTIES!!!!!!

They all remind me of my cat
It was a pretty disappointing first attempt for staining, but as you'll see below - I was indeed able to get the stain up to proper temperature and mix it back together for better results. The kittens are adorable - their eyes are open now and they're starting to run around!

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Originally Posted by digitalcowboy View Post
so is the desk only going to only have one computer built in now with a kitten station on the other side? bummer about the staining. it can be tough to find the right tint for the right wood. good luck!
Hahaha, I was thinking of that too lol, they're going to love climbing all over this monster of a desk. My next project is to actually make a nice big cat tree fo rthem!


Some of you may have wondered - "You stained 2 small pieces of wood in the past 2 weeks?! That's all you have to show for progress on THE ULTIMATE DESK?!"

Well, not quite... Really - I did more, I swear.

As you all know, the first staining attempt went really poorly, so I immediately went out and started on a second staining attempt. This time, I purchased some pre-stain wood conditioner, as well as a traditional oil-based stain. I also set out to do this the right way. If I'm going to spend a week staining small samples, I might as well have something to show for it. I cut 8 small blocks of wood, and sanded them all to 120 grit, just like before, and tacked them all off.



I had a plan this time - I was going to see what kind of colour combinations I could get with just 2 stains, and 1 wood conditioner (The gel stain, for what it's worth, had been mixed several times, and had been kept upstairs for a few days). Here is the wood conditioner I used. You can see in the background that it tints the wood just slightly.



Here is the oil-based stain I picked up. It's a Minwax product, Red Mahogany.



And of course, the Varathane Gel Stain that you've already seen, also, Red Mahogany.



In this picture you can see a bit how the oil stain reacts to the wood conditioner. The wood conditioner seemed to have hardly any effect on the gel stain, most likely because gel stains don't really penetrate the wood the same as an oil stain.



And in this picture you can see the whopping difference between the oil stain and gel stain, which are, strangely enough, supposed to be the same colour. The one on the left is the Minwax, and the one in the middle is the Varathane. Neither the first or second piece have wood conditioner on them. The piece on the right is wood conditioner + the Minwax oil stain.



Here's the production line, the stain is still wet, I haven't wiped off the excess yet.



And here is the result of 2 days of staining. (First day sanding, tacking, wood conditioner, first coat of stain, second day some of them got a second coat).

From left to right, here is what I did to get the different results (Some of them obvious, some of them pretty darn subtle).

1. Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
2. Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
3. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
4. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
5. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
6. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
7. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain x 2 Coats
8. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain x 2 Coats

Wow! It's pretty amazing the different shades you can get when using just 3 pretty simple substances.







I then set about the next 4 or 5 days applying one coat of high gloss polyurethane each day (That was a long and boring process). Basically, get home from work, go downstairs for a whole 5 minutes, do a quick sanding, tacking, and another light coat of poly, done for the day, wait for the next day.

Here's the final result of Staining Attempt Number Two. Please keep in mind, they are not in the same order that I mentioned above.





There's no doubt that I will use this method again in the future. I also now have a great set of staining samples for maple plywood that I will surely fine handy in the future (They are all marked on the back what the process / stain used was).

Guess what though. None of them really came out the way I wanted. I'm still in search for that rich, deep, red mahogany / cherry look, and these just won't cut it (Though I admit, I do like #5 and #6, but maybe only because of their really spectacular grain pattern).

See you next time for Staining Attempt Number Three! *sigh*



Oh - and here's another snap of the kittens - they are 20 days old when this picture was taken, and they had just opened their eyes only a couple days beforehand.



I won't be posting another update until next week, as I've decided to take a trip to the East Coast to celebrate St.Patricks day! I'll be in Halifax if anyone wants to go for a few pints! Have a great weekend everyone!
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  #64 (permalink)  
Old March 15, 2011, 01:13 PM
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Who will take care of those little guys while you are away? Far more important than anything else pictured. They are SUPER cute!
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  #65 (permalink)  
Old March 24, 2011, 11:29 AM
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Default Third Staining Attempt

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Who will take care of those little guys while you are away? Far more important than anything else pictured. They are SUPER cute!
Hehe, of course, the MOST IMPORTANT! No worries though, I have a roommate who was taking care of them ;)

For those of you interested in seeing how the kittens are doing, I've been keeping a bit of a video log on them - ie. I have been taking quick video clips of them every few days, since day 0. You can check them out here:
YouTube - MrAderome's Channel

Also, here is a bit of a sneak peak, as far as actual computer hardware is concerned - I've been slowly acquiring bits and pieces, since I'm still not entirely sure what will end up in this Ultimate Computer Desk.

Kingston has decided to sponsor me, and has sent me this really fantastic SSD drive. I am PSYCHED!





As you are all aware, my first 2 staining attempts were successful in the sense that I learned a lot, however, I was still not achieving the result I originally wanted.

I decided to try something other than the tried-and-true local Home Depot, and I hit up a custom furniture store - Randalls. Let me tell you - it was a truly great experience, and I will be returning there many more times in the future due to the incredible service I received there.

I walked in with my backpack full of my 2nd attempt samples, and immediately a salesperson started talking with me about what I was there for. I explained to her the stains I tried, along with the techniques, and she asked to see my samples.

I pointed out the ones I liked, and why, and why I didn't like them, and she came back in a few minutes with a couple stains that might interest me. She then asked if she could do some sample stains on the back of the pieces I brought in. She took the pieces behind the counter, sanded them down, stained them, and came back in a few minutes with actual, real - this is what they're going to look like - samples.

How cool is that? I could have just gone there in the first place and spent the whole extra 2 dollars, but would have walked out with 1 product - the right one - the first time. Amazing - I'm really happy I discovered that place.

I can't imagine Home Depot opening up any of their products for a test piece.. I've never asked though, so who knows. Randall's is my goto place for stains now, however!



Once again, I decided to see what variety of colours I could get with what I had on hand, so I setup 8 samples once more:

1. Old Masters
2. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters
3. Wood Conditioner + Minwax + Old Masters
4. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters + Minwax
5. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters x 2 Coats
6. Old Masters x 2 Coats
7. Wood Conditioner + Varathane + Old Masters
8. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters + Varathane



I worked on the samples for about a week (1 coat per day, did 5 or 6 coats of poly on top, light sanding between poly coats)



Here are a couple close up shots while staining was in progress





And a comparison with the previous samples, once everything was nicely glossed up



Look at the difference in colour! Now that's more what I was looking for. There's no question that the gel stain has "muted" the grain a little bit, however, the colour is unquestionably closer to what I was looking for originally.

Here is a shot of my previously favorite samples from the 2nd round, against the new samples



And a closeup of the 2 samples I think I like the best. The differences between this batch are quite subtle, as the Old Masters gel stain has a very strong dye which mutes out the effects of conditioner, or any other stain applied before or after.



Now that's what I call progress! I think I can call it quits for testing stain now. Time to move on to the dreaded motherboard tray / I/O Slot stuff...

Until next time!
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  #66 (permalink)  
Old March 25, 2011, 11:26 PM
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Nice looking wood you got there.
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  #67 (permalink)  
Old March 29, 2011, 04:23 PM
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This is an incredable project; I can't wait to see how this turns out. The new stain you have looks great!
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  #68 (permalink)  
Old March 31, 2011, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by PeopleCanFly View Post
This is an incredable project; I can't wait to see how this turns out. The new stain you have looks great!
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Originally Posted by JustDepends View Post
Nice looking wood you got there.
Thanks, both of you - I'm a big fan of how the colour turned out as well. Hopefully I'll be able to replicate it just fine on the final product!


Sorry about the lack of updates everyone, it's not that I haven't been working on the desk much, but it's more that I've been using the camera a lot (You know.. kittens) and I haven't had time to sit down and sort through all the photos, re-size, crop, etc for some real proper updates.

I've had this update sitting on the back burner for a little while now and I've been meaning to squeeze in it somewhere. I had been talking with some folks at Danger Den because I was looking at their motherboard trays and I/O panels, and they've decided to sponsor me!

Big thanks go out to Danger Den, as these are critical components required for a professional end result - you've all seen the mangled results of the cases I tore up earlier in the project.


Let us help you be cool!



Everything came very nicely packed - not much loose play, and plenty of foam to absorb any shipping issues.



I had these PSU support brackets custom made:



I sent them a higher resolution image of this, that I threw together in Sketchup:



Also included in this little shipment were some momentary switches for power and reset. (These are really popular these days, aren't they?)



And some real nifty motherboard trays:





All the acrylic is 1/2" clear - I will leave them wrapped up until the project is close to completion. With these parts -finally- settled, I can cut some holes in the cabinets and actually put them together -for real- !!

Stay tuned, I'll sit down this weekend and sort through the next round of updates ;)
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  #69 (permalink)  
Old March 31, 2011, 10:21 PM
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sweet dude! don't forget to measure twice and cut once! and how are you going to get it out of the basement when its done?

oh and if you haven't already, check out some fine finishing blades for the jigsaw which i imagine you'll be using a fair bit. there are good blades that cut really smooth and don't tear out as much.
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  #70 (permalink)  
Old April 1, 2011, 07:14 AM
Keltron 3030's Avatar
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real cool of DD to get in on this you should try and squeeze one of their new Monsoon Reservoirs from them; those things look fuckin sick!

Pump Bay Reservoirs - Danger Den
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