I decided, (read as wife told me) we needed a new entertainment center. I went to the internet and looked at dozens of centers and I (she told me) decided which ones I liked then went to my computer and drew up some sketches. When I went to the lumber yard they had a whole new pallet of hard maple on sale so I thought (wrongly) that would be a good wood to use. I came home with a few boards and a sheet of combicore (architectural) maple ply wood. Started cutting the big pieces into small ones and built the plywood carcass. As I was doing this I found out the hard way that a wobble style dado blade is totally worthless!!! So now I am the proud owner of a new stacked dado set
Once I had the carcass glued up I set to work on the face frame and attached it with glue and pocket holes/screws. Next I had to make the moldings I needed. To do this I needed a router table so I made a box and inset a 1/4' piece of aluminum into the top MDF to be flush and mounted it to the top then mounted the router to it and got to work figuring out how to make the bull nose moldings. I managed to get the bull nose milled on the router table and cut to width mitered with a miter saw and attached to the face frame. I noticed some small inconsistencies that needed to be fixed so I went back to the router table and made some 3/8" cove molding to attach under the bull nose. mission accomplished.
Next I called a friend who has some real tools (ie a shaper) to help me with the raised panel doors. we got those milled out and put together then drilled for hidden hinges. Test fit everything, got out the sand paper and started making everything as smooth as possible.
Once it was sanded to 320 grit It was time to finish it. I tried a bunch of different stains and could not find anything I liked. Having watched a bunch of Tommys pod casts and much searching on the internet I tried some Watco Danish Oil (Dark Walnut) and was semi satisfied with the way it looked so I proceeded to put 3 coats of this on the center. the first coat I kept adding oil and kept it wet for about 1/2 hour then let it set for another 30 min or so and wiped off all the oil that had not soaked into the wood. I let it dry for 24 hours, checking often and wiping it with clean rags to make sure there were no pockets of oil drying on the surface. The next day I saturated it again with the Danish oil and then wet sanded it using the oil as the wetting agent I used 600 grit sandpaper for this sanding with the grain. (bought at autozone) Once I was satisfied, I let it dry for20 min then wiped it off against the grain. Let it dry for 24 hours, applied a new coat of Danish oil rubbing it in then letting dry for 10 -15 minutes and wiping off with the grain.
I let it dry for about 2 weeks buffing it every day with a clean cotton rag. At this point it had a dull satin sheen to it. I wanted to protect it further so I went to the paint store and bought some semi gloss lacquer and a spray gun. Learned how to use it on test pieces and cardboard, then started spraying on parts of the center that would not be seen (under sides of shelves, the back, bottom, etc) once I felt I was getting good enough with the gun I sprayed the inside of the back and the inside of the center then at the last I sprayed the out side and the top very last. I used 3 - 4 coats lightly buffing with 0000 steel wool in between coats and wiping off with a tack cloth before each coat.
What you see above is the finished product. I have probably 100 hours into actual work on this project but it took the better part of 3 months to finish it from concept to installation.
Over all I learned a whole lot doing this project. One I need a better table saw. a Ryobi job-site saw is not made for fine furniture work. Another thing is I would not use maple if I made another one. My skill level is not quite up to hard maple yet.
A good craftsman never blames his tools for poor results, but good high quality tools sure make getting good results a lot easier to obtain.
Finally I want to give a huge thank you to Tommy for his pod casts and the Rough Cut show for inspiring me to take on a project like this and supplying the visual references for techniques that I could use or expand on to do these things.