HB Tansu #2-Progress 1

hbt2-2I came down with a cold this week and my 10 hours per day at my day job was just about all that I could muster.  So with only a little shop time Monday and Friday evening all I have completed is the basic mortising and dados in the four posts.  This is the first time I’ve done any serious joinery in cherry.  I’m really liking it so far.  Cherry is denser than the pine that I usually work with.  Consequently it cuts much cleaner.  With pine I have to be careful when chopping to not crush the wood.  Even with very sharp tools, pine does not always cut cleanly.  The cherry is much more forgiving in this regard.  I can see working with cherry could become a habit with me.

There is a long way to go in this project however.  I have a new piece of joinery to work thru as well as some decorative elements that I hope to incorporate.  I’m still undecided as to the finish that I will be applying.  The tinted wax experiment on the first HB Tansu did not turn out as I had hoped.  The color came out flat and lifeless.  The finished surface and sheen is what I was after though.  I have always had good success with clear shellac and wax but, my gut tells me that shellac is not the finish to use on these tansu projects.  I’ve given up on the idea of trying to color wood to look like something it isn’t.  So I’ve limited myself to clear finish options only.  My other stipulation is that the finishing product needs to be nontoxic.  This shortens the list quite a bit.  It’s also why I usually use shellac or milk paint.

hb_tansu-001I’m doing a few test pieces using Tried & True original oil finish.  Tried & True is a blend of polymerized linseed oil and beeswax. It contains no petroleum product or heavy metal driers.  So this product ticks the box for nontoxic.   So far I’m happy with results, but the jury is still out.

I did manage to complete the layout drawing for this version of the HB Tansu so you can see where I’m headed.

Instruction Drawing:


Greg Merritt

This entry was posted in Design, Hillbilly Tansu-001 and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to HB Tansu #2-Progress 1

  1. Jason says:


    I’ve used quite a bit of cherry lately, and it finishes incredibly with shellac. It also looks good with arm-r-seal.


  2. handmadeinwood says:

    I’ve used American Cherry in the past and it is, in general, a good compliant timber to work with.
    Having said that, it can be occasionally unpredictable in terms of wavy grain. A different animal altogether to European Cherries, which, in my opinion do not work as well.

    One thing that I did find out when I first used it is the tendency to darken quickly, even in subdued sunlight. It’s best to avoid leaving objects on it for a length of time when fresh as there is often an impression of the shape left behind. It all homogenises and comes to a stop in time and all timbers do it to some extent, but it’s one of the quickest woods I’ve used that reacts to light.

    All best with the build.

    • gman3555 says:

      Thanks for the info. So far these pieces have been fairly mild and well behaved. I’m aware of cherry’s reaction to UV. I have kept it covered and out of direct sunlight up until now. I’ve been making a concerted effort to not stack the pieces on each other and to not partially cover any of the pieces.


  3. Cherry is my favorite wood. I use more pine then cherry only because I can afford to buy more of it then cherry.

  4. joemcglynn says:

    Hi Greg,

    I’ve used both the the oil/varnish and the oil/wax finish from Tried and True. My experience with the oil/varnish blend was that it never seemed to dry and didn’t build any film. The oil brought out the color in the wood nicely of course, but I wanted more sheen. I left some of the oil out and it just seemed to gel but not harden. The oil/wax product seems to do a better job building a film after two or three coats. Not a lot, mind you. I put the first coat on relatively heavy and let it “soak” for an hour or so, then wipe it all off. That needs to dry for a day, then I wipe on an additional coat or two, letting them dry overnight.

    But finishing is a bit of a black art, in part because of the differences in products, woods, techniques and preferences. I have the sense this tansu is going to be pretty special, I’m looking forward to watching it develop.

    • gman3555 says:

      Hopefully it’s not so special that it has to ride the short bus to school. 😃

      I’m on coat #3 of Tried & True original. It’s a time consuming process but it’s looking promising. There are certain compromises with this type of finish but nothing replicate the look and feel of oil and wax. Plus Tried & True is nontoxic from can to completed finish. This is important to me for health reasons. There are kids, pets and me to worry about. I never have to worry about who is in My shop when I’m applying a finish.


  5. Randy Allen says:

    Greg – Concur with your thoughts on cherry. Used it for a few things and really like the workability and fine texture. Regarding finishes, here is a link to a product that I’ve started using and it meets your requirements as non toxic. http://www.solventfreepaint.com/maintenance_wax.htm They also produce an organic linseed oil that is really boiled (with heat!). The paint looks good too. I’m thinking of the linseed blue for my tool chest, if I ever get it built.

    Check it out and keep up the good work.


    • gman3555 says:

      Hi Randy,

      Yep, cherry is a really nice wood to work with.

      Thank you for the link. Those look to be good products and meet my nontoxic requirement. The linseed wax is very similar to the Tried and True product that I’m testing. The difference being the product you linked to looks to have more wax in it. I may be getting that product for the final coat and on-going maintenance. I’ll be interested in how the paint works out for you.


If you don't comment this is just a fancy way for me to talk to myself.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s