Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Frankenchest - An Argument for Painting Wood

Before I even get started on this post, I should point out that the majority of projects that leave my shop (and those that stay) are not painted. I really like the look of wood, either unfinished, or oiled/waxed. But sometimes paint is the finish of choice and here is a perfect example of why.

I finally finished dismantling the old wood rack. But what to do with the wood? I didn't want to store it and it didn't feel right just burning it in the wood stove - "Well, thanks for the years of yeoman's work old rack, now it's off to a fiery doom for you! Muwahahahaha!" And we did need some kind of firewood storage for on the front porch, so...

Enter the Frankenchest!

This was a down and dirty salvage build, so material wise nothing is particularly nice about this project. The 3/8" plywood is rough CDX salvaged from the old rack's shelves. The 2x4 internal frame also comes directly from the rack. The skirting is birch ply from the long gone CD shelves, and the 1x stock for the upper trim was pulled from the scrap pile. In short, the wood is a mismatched hodgepodge. However, the proportions are not bad - maybe even nice, which is why painting this monstrosity makes sense.

Paint unifies the design, hiding the wood's grain, texture (somewhat) and coloring, and thus allowing proportion to dominate the viewer's perception of the final product. This is, I believe, the reason Windsor chairs were traditionally painted. Of course, we're talking about a Frankenchest here, not some fine Windsor chair, so the results are not exactly the same, but I think you can see the difference:

Yeah, it would take more than paint to make this baby shine, but it does take it from rather hideous to "not too bad", which in my book definitely does "Give it more juice!" (NOT a woodworking related link, and jump to 8 minutes for the scene with the quote - spoiler alert if you haven't seen this movie yet...)

And yes, this is the second, huge, green chest I have built recently - I think I should be good for a couple of years at least. Although, a huge, blue chest might be nice...


  1. Dan,
    You might try amping the chest up a bit with another color on the base and mid molding. Maybe a dark blue. eiterh way I am sure the firewood won't mind.

  2. Dan,

    I just noticed in the background... you sticker all of your lumber on your lumber racks?

    Never thought of doing that. Looks like I'm off to buy some 1" x 1" sticks here in the near future.

  3. Mike - Good idea, but it'll have to wait to next summer as it is already doing it's job on the porch and temps are too low for painting.

    Ethan - I don't think it is a must, but I started experimenting with it a couple of years ago and it does seem to make a difference, and sometimes a large one. But I'm not big on following rules, so they are just 1x2s, so 3/4". Seems to work fine.

  4. Dan,

    The chest don't look too bad. If it's going to be outside, I'd probably paint it anyway with primer and paint to help it from decomposing and all.

    Oh, BTW, you get the Sketch up pic I sent you in email for that Retractable Handle?


  5. Handi - I did get it - thanks! I think that might work well. When I get around to making the trays/totes I'll experiment a bit.


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