My sister-in-law had me do a small project for her. I said yes, without knowing what it was “yeah, bring it on over” I said. It was a whirligig. No, really, you read that right. A whirligig. Actually, not even a whirligig, she already had one of those. She just needed a base for it.
What does a whirligig base look like? Well, it’s a block of wood. “Big, and hopefully dark” she said.
Can You Make a Block of Wood For Me
Yes, I’ve been woodworking for over a decade, have attended two Woodworking in America conferences, and even had George Walker himself comment on my projects on my blog, but I’m not above creating a “big, dark, block of wood” for my sister-in-law’s whirligig.
New rule: this blog post is a drinking game. Take a drink for every mention of whirligig. Go back and start from the beginning. You should have six drinks in you now (or more).
I cleaned up some old cedar 4×4, cut it into four equal sections, and glued the sections together with all the growth rings coming together nicely in the center to make this block look like it came from one large log. I know, attention to detail even when making a block of wood for a whirligig.
I’d Like It To Be Dark
The cedar was clear, and smelled wonderful, but it wasn’t dark. I hate stain, it’s horrible stuff. Gigantic molecules that just don’t get into the wood evenly and now manufacturers are mixing stains with other finishing products like varnishes, urethanes and gels to try and make the ultimate all-in-one product. I like dyes. Specifically I like Transtint alcohol soluble dyes. The molecules are smaller, go deeper, and you can shade much easier.
Luckily I had recently picked up some Preval guns at a big box store. These have a ton of uses, I was introduced to them by a professional painter that was touching up some doors when I moved into my house. He put some paint in the jar, mixed in some water, and was ready to paint.
So, I did the same thing. 12 drops medium brown, 6 drops black, 4 oz. alcohol. Swish it around and screw the power unit onto the jar. I’ve never used the Preval gun for this, and I’ve never dyed cedar, but that’s OK. It was after all a big dark block of wood for a whirligig.
Final Results: Fast, Easy, Economical
You can see the final results below.
The Preval gun was fast, the right size for the job, economical (around $10 for one jar and one power unit), and cleanup was really easy. I was pleased with the results for the amount of effort I put into this job, and my sister-in-law was very happy with her big, dark, block of wood. I’m going to try this with shellac and other finishes on small jobs when the full spray booth (part 1 & part 2) isn’t required. This would also be a great option for on-site touchups.