Sealing the door, and a few things in between

The last two days have been made up of applying coats of sealer to the front door, waiting for it to dry, sanding it, applying another coat, with random tasks slotted into the 4 hour increments between coats.

I’m using Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane to finish the door. It’s made for exterior or interior use, but has a UV protector mixed in, and is supposed to remain slightly flexible to stand up to the expanding/contracting that will occur with temperature differences.

Since the mineral spirits in the wood conditioner had slightly bubbled the protective plastic on the windows, I decided to tape off the edges before I started with the varnish.

The beginning was a little troublesome. After applying the first coat, I noticed plenty of brush strokes, and a few runs that really bothered me. I sanded down using 220 grit sandpaper (as recommended on the can) to smooth out the ridges, and to make the second coat adhere properly. After everything was smooth on both the door and the jamb, I vacuumed and then wiped down with a white rag slightly moistened with mineral spirits.

Looked pretty good.

I then applied the second coat, and let it dry for another lengthy 4 hours.  Same problem, not so much runs this time because I was extremely careful, but there were still obvious brush strokes.

Enter the power of Google. I came inside and searched, “Helmsman Spar Urethane,” and to my lovely surprise, I found this post by Marc, The Wood Whisperer. It provided the exact solution I needed – thin the urethane with mineral spirits to encourage self-leveling.

With the second coat dried, I sanded down the brush strokes again, vacuumed, and wiped down. Then, I thinned the urethane using about a 70:30 ratio of urethane:mineral spirits. I mixed them together, and applied with a brush – much better!

Tip: Wondering what to do with your brush between coats?  Rather than cleaning out the brush each time, you can wrap it in foil, or a Ziploc baggie, and put it in the freezer. The cold temperature stops the sealer from setting up – just pull the brush out of the ice box about 5 minutes before applying the next coat.

Another 4 hours, and a mowed lawn later, I came back in and applied the 4th coat. Normally at this point I’d call it complete, but since I thinned down the urethane with the spirits, I’m going to apply one last coat. Rather than using a brush for the final coat, though, I’m going to use the wipe-on method with a white rag, thinning the sealer by about 50%.

Besides mowing the lawn, during the dry-time I also mounted the vanity in our bathroom. Since I built the vanity pre-blog, I’ll just give a quick run down on the process.  Taking the inspiration from the vanity I found at Costco, I created a design of my own. Then, I headed to Home Depot to buy a piece of birch veneered plywood ($39). I drew out the design on a piece of paper, and then determined the size of each piece I would need to cut, plotting them out so they could be cut out of the plywood making as few cuts possible with a circular saw.

After everything was cut, I glued the pieces together, nailing them with a brad nailer to hold everything in place while the glue dried.

With the frame built, I went around all of the edges and added a piece of hemlock trim to cover the plywood edge.  With everything assembled and the glue dried, I applied a wood conditioner, followed by a Minwax gel stain, and sealed using Polyurethane. It turned out pretty nicely, and only ended up costing about $70 after the stain, etc., I still need to find a granite remnant to put on top of it, a vessel sink and faucet, but I expect to spend no more than $300 on the entire thing, much less than the $800 it would have cost to buy one.

To hang the vanity, I used a trimmed down 2×4” scrap I had left over from when I furred out the walls to add insulation during the bathroom remodel, ensuring it was level, I then attached it to the studs using 3” screws.

I hung the 2×4″ 13″ from the ground, because with a countertop and vessel sink mounted on top of the vanity, I want the overall height to be 38″ (I’m 6’6″).

With that in place, I brought the vanity in, set it on the ledge, and screwed the back panels into the wall, making sure I was anchoring to studs – again using the 3” screws. Then, using shorter screws, I anchored into the 2×4” piece from above. Voila!

I still need to build a door for the center portion, so more to come on that, but it feels good to at least have something mounted on the wall!

Tomorrow I’m going to work on finishing the other side of the door (haven’t even started yet… ugh) and then we’re off to Victoria BC for a wedding and some camping. Hooray!

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