Some of you have noticed that I love me a good wood slat project. I can’t get enough of the look of wood grains going in all different directions, but coming together as a whole, beautiful piece. Here’s just a few examples of past projects.
I’ve also gotten a lot of questions as to exactly how this is done on furniture, so you know what… I’ll show you.
First and most important, find the right piece of furniture. For me, that is a piece that has recessed area with good quality craftsmanship. You do not want to put this amount of work into something poorly made. This mid-century cutie is perfect!
Remove all the hardware, sand lightly (if the drawers are super shiny) and thoroughly clean the fronts of the drawers.
Line them up on a flat, level surface with the drawer fronts facing up.
Put spacers between each drawer. (tape them in to get them to stay put) I used lath, but the spacers could be thinner. Just make sure you can get the blade of your jigsaw between each drawer.
Find the center of the drawers. Think of all three as one big drawer and find the center of that. All you have to do is draw a diagonal line from corner to corner. The X formed in the middle will be your center.
Now, the “fun” begins. For this project, I cut 18×2 inch wood slats at a 45 degree angle on one end. Starting in the center, I followed my diagonal line and attached the first piece with wood glue and staples to the drawer front. Then I formed a “sort of” pin wheel keeping the 45 degree angled end always facing away from the one before it. (they should never come together to make a 90 degree angle) Make sure the straight-edged end completely hangs over the side of the drawers.
Once you finish the first row, you do the same thing as before, only, with the second row, I faced the 45 degree angled end in the opposite direction as the first row. (so if you started with the angled end facing down, this row, you’d start with it facing up). And it fits, just like a puzzle piece. Keep going until you finish the second row.
Continue each row, alternating how the angled end faces per entire row. Warning… as you get further along, this process can play tricks on your eyes!
Note.. you DO need to glue every piece. But you DO NOT need to staple every piece. I always staple the first pin wheel row so they don’t shift. Once that row is in place, only staple when needed. (like if a wood slat is a little warped.
Let dry overnight.
The next day (or whenever you get around to it), remove your spacers and cut out your drawers using a jigsaw. Draw a line from corner to corner where you need to make your cuts.
Next comes the sanding. And by golly, there’s A LOT of it. Use an orbital or belt sander, start with 60 grit, then 80, and then 120.
Once the major ridges are out, (and they are major… we’re talking hours) go ahead and route your edges. This makes such a difference and really gives it a professional look.
Now fill in your gaps with a stainable wood filler. Wait several hours or overnight for it to thoroughly dry.
The next day using 240 grit sandpaper, sand away the remaining wood filler. And don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the smooth feel of sanded wood. Woo hoo!
Now this really is the fun part.. staining! I took one light-colored stain (I used Minwax’s “Weathered Oak”) and stained over the entire piece. I let this dry for a couple of hours, and then I took my detail brush and began to stain each “pin wheel” row individually. I started with Minwax’s Ebony, in row 1, Minwax’s “Dark Walnut” in row 2. Row 3 was a mix of “Dark Walnut” and “Weathered Oak”. Row 4 was just another coat of “Weathered Oak” (just to deepen the stain from the first coat) and Row 5 was left with just the first coat of “Weathered Oak”.
Let it dry overnight and seal with polyurethane. I use Minwax’s satin, oil based polyurethane. I chose to use my spray gun, and applied two coats, allowing plenty of dry time in between.
I don’t think I need to tell you how to paint the rest of the piece, but I’ll share what I did.
Thoroughly sand and fill in any scratches or holes.
Prime the piece using a shellac or synthetic shellac based primer. (shellac is the best for keeping the wood tannins from bleeding) let dry.
Sand lightly using a sanding sponge, apply a second coat if needed.
Paint your piece! I used Sherwin Williams ProClassic paint in satin. It is becoming one of my favorite paints and I’ve used… a lot of paint. It is a little $$ but absolutely worth it and dries to a rock hard finish with little to no brush strokes. BUT… I will warn you, it self-levels which also means, longer drying time. (Impatient people, like myself, beware) The color I used for this project is called “Mindful Gray”. And mindful it is……
Let dry, sand lightly with a sanding sponge, and apply a second coat. Apply a third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh coat. (Kidding… usually 2 coats does it)
If you choose, you can add extra protection by sealing the paint with clear acrylic sealer. My go-to water based sealer is Minwax’s polycrylic in satin. Use a water based sealer when you don’t want your finish to yellow over time.
Clean the old hardware, and put it back on. Since the original nail holes are now covered up with wood from the outside, I use a very teeny drill bit, drill new holes from the inside. (where the original holes are) Then I take the proper sized bit (whatever size your screws are) and drill from the outside in. You don’t want to start with a big drill bit going from the inside first, or it may chip out small pieces of your wood slats. You will also need longer screws now that the drawers are thicker.
And that’s it!! Here’s the finished product. Yes, it is a LOT of work, but it is totally worth it. I can’t stop looking at her. She’s my darling lady and she could be yours. This piece will be available at “the studio” for their June Event. To see other items I have at the studio, just check out my “items available” album on the Facebook.
Thanks for reading!