It was another shellac weekend. We weren't happy with the way the shellac went on with a loose rag, so a little google research on the French Polish technique and we made up some applicator pads. They are made from an old baby boppy, but would work just as well using an old t-shirt.
We ended up with 2 coats of amber shellac on most of the cabinets, though some areas needed 3 to blend well.
We weren't going to use clear shellac, but the pads made it so easy to lay down in one stroke, we added two coats as most of the pros do.
With the rear bunk finished, we really wanted to see something actually on the trailer floor, so we attached the 3 pieces of the rear bunk. We will attach it to the floor after the walls are in place, in case it needs to move a bit. In fact, we are working on the cabinets first, as the street side wall of continuous cabinets will help us position the walls later.
We were so happy with the rear bunk, we just kept on rolling with the dinette seats. The ever present helpers took a brief break from playing fairyland to do some finish sanding.
The bunks only got 2 coats of amber shellac before it was taco time, so we will need to bust out the zinser bullseye again next weekend.
Trailers from the 50s and 60s are traditionally finished with shellac for that classic amber glow. To test for shellac, you rub the finish with some isopropyl alcohol and if the finish becomes tacky, it's likely shellac...Ours is not shellac.
Regardless, we scraped whatever finish was used and prepared to refinish our cabinets. Shellac is not as hard as modern polyurethane finishes, but it has one advantage...you can apply it using the french polish method for a simple, high gloss finish.
We were not looking for a mirror shine finish, so 3 coats of amber and our rear bed/couch cabinets were ready to be reinstalled.
Continued the cabinet crusade. Rebuilt the front overhead bottom which was water damaged and also had holes from removing the corner/icebox cabinets. We didn't have any old ash plywood long enough because the ceiling edges were all rotten so we pieced together two pieces which will be covered with the same trim that hides the other plywood seams with a 12V LED fixture in between. The finishes are a bit different, but after we scrape, sand and re-shellac, it should all match.
We also rebuilt the street side bunk support. This cabinet was rotten and the top plywood was broken from people sitting and standing on it. This was the first cabinet of the bunch that actually ended up flat and square, so either we're getting better, or luckier. The rear is hidden by the goucho couch which slides forward to become a bed.
After the gale force winds last weekend, we decided to take a break from the trailer. Of course, the trailer Gods immediately graced us with a 75 and sunny spring weekend, so we reconsidered. After a Saturday preparing and Sunday morning holding a 5 year old's carousel birthday party, we turned our attention back to the trailer.
Our first order of business was to start thinking about refinishing some of the cabinetry. A woodworking trick to remove old finish is a cabinet or card scraper.
To use a card scraper, you first file the edge square, then use a burnishing tool to add a small burr which removes the finish like a very fine plane. To do this, you need a vice, which we had as it came with the house, and something to mount the vice to, which we didn't have because the original built in workbench was falling apart...so we built a small workbench out of scraps we had around the yard.
After scraping the old finish off, we added just a single coat of Zinzer amber shellac which really brings the old ash back to life. We will probably add a few extra coats to the final cabinets but you can see the contrast below
We also used the bench to start rebuilding the newly built stove, icebox cabinet which was broken in the rush to tear down the carport and get everything into the garage.