Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Vitrine Progress - Paint and Glass

One can be forgiven if they haven't really been able to figure out what I am thinking with this nailed vitrine.  Hopefully it is starting to look like a proper piece, now.

I picked up the glass from the glazer yesterday.  The tint is a bit darker than I expected, but I think it will look fantastic when done.
It looks even darker here, because all three glass plates are stacked on each other.
Here is where I started after collecting the glass.  I removed the doors and hardware for paint.
A coat of paint really is making this spruce look better.  The only problem is that any defect in the wood shows through when you get close.  Knots, resin pockets, and filled nail holes all stick out, but the over all effect is rather pleasant.
with a coat of paint.
To install the glass, I had to remove the plywood spacers.  Theoretically they slide out, but I first had to cut them free with a knife, as the paint had got them nice and stuck.
Trying to protect the paint with whatever was at hand.  The clamps are there because once the plywood spacers come out, there is nothing supporting the front of the upper cabinet.
Interesting news is I finally got to use these clamps in spreading mode.  Clamps always advertise this as a feature of versatility.  I think in ten years of having these clamps, this is the first time I really needed to do this.

The final result is rather striking.  I think the cabinet no longer looks like a cheap nailed piece, but a rather swanky looking piece. 
Now we are talking.
The last bit to do is finish painting the doors and moveable shelves, and we are done. 

A note about the stability of this piece:  I can't imagine that this piece ever would be totally rock solid, unless the two cabinets were screwed directly to the wall.  However, the back of this one is two shiplapped two-meter long boards, full 18mm (3/4") thick.  I nailed them in from the back and the sides for strength.  These boards give this cabinet the strength that it has.  I imagine stronger than the original.  The top cabinet is mostly held by the back, and it also rests on the glass. 

I think that if this cabinet took a blow, the glass might break, but the glass stiffens the piece considerably over the plywood spacers.  I think as long as one is careful, there is no reason to think the glass will ever break.

Well, there is only one way to find out!


  1. Hi Brian,
    it's really looking great.
    Frankly spoken I really thought you would build a more "sophisticated" case.
    But I guess the case is more stable than a bought shelf with a fiberboard back.
    I'm curious to see it with the doors.

    1. Hi Stefan, thanks for the comment. I'm sure you are right, this case isn't un-stable. But, it isn't as solid as my tool chest, for example.

      I wanted to try to stick as close as I could to the original for this usable mock-up. The next one should see some modifications that might be a little more my style. Stay tuned!

  2. Hello Brian - indeed that is looking very nice! Well done. I like the tinted glass. You mentioned that were considering to install some LED's inside the Vitrine to light up objects which you'll put in there. The tint will make it look very nice with the light inside of it. John

  3. It's really nice! What paint did you use? and did you apply a pre-coat?

    1. Hi Aymeric! Thanks. I used an Alpine Weisslack that is supposedly formulated for doors and furniture. It also is a 2 in 1, so theoretically doesn't need a primer coat.

      In reality, it has taken four coats and counting! However, I did notice it covered a small piece of Kiefer in one coat, but the spruce of the rest of the piece is soaking up this paint like crazy. Plus, all the knots are hard to cover, you can see the black spot under the paint with three or less coats.

  4. Looking great.
    I like the comment on the spreading action of the clamps. 10 years and the first time you could use the feature :-)
    I read that a wagon vice on a workbench could to the same thing (pulling stuff apart), but I haven't had to use that feature yet . Maybe I should start to dismantle some old chairs, just to try it.

    1. Thanks, Jonas!

      It's pretty cool that while I am at work, the Frau is at home painting the doors to this thing.

      Most of my clamps have some way of spreading rather than clamping, but it is funny I haven't needed to very often. I suppose that means that you shouldn't base your purchase of a clamp on the fact that it has a double duty.

      That is, unless you are trying to justify the purchase to your spousal unit!

    2. You with all your integrity would surely never do such a thing as trying to justify a purchase with cheap tricks :-)

  5. This is starting to look like something. I must admit I wasn't sure what you were thinking but once painted the form jumps out vs. grain construction etc. and with the glass applied, I think I'll like it.

    As far as multiple coats of paint, anytime I'm painting raw wood these days I use Zinnser BIN shellac sealer/primer (not sure of European availability) it goes on like water and seems unlikely to cover anything, but knots don't show through and I haven't found a need to put multiple coats of paint afterwards.

    1. Thanks, Jeremy! I think it will look really nice when finished, but I wouldn't be surprised if not many woodworkers would like it. The style is awfully European and awfully flat-packy (if there is such a word).

      The sealer idea is a good one. I have some shellac flakes, I might try to mix something up, or I have an idea for a commercial product that might suit. Good timing with this comment, as I might have to do the doors over again, and I'm not looking forward to four more coats of paint on each side.