View Full Version : Question for the woodworkers among us

brian Rupnow
03-09-2011, 02:13 PM
I know, I know---its a MACHINISTS forum.But please forgive my transgressions. Wife and I are into a kitchen renovation, and she wants the light on the wall above the sink to become a ceiling light. I have no access to the attic in the area above the sink, but have managed to bury the electical cord in the drywall so that it comes out at the very top of the wall. I want to build a cantilever stut that extends about 16" out from the wall, bury the cord inside it, and give her a ceiling mounted light, hanging from the strut. Left to my own devices, I would make it from 2 x 6 pine, but I don't want any grain to show when it is painted the same colour as the ceiling. Is there a better wood to use that will not show grain as badly?---Brian

03-09-2011, 02:26 PM
Poplar would be a good alternative.

In fact I'd reach for it before pine anyway. ...tho I guess it depends on the type of pine you have in your neck of the woods.

,,,ahhmm, speaking of "neck of the woods", I'm not sure of the range of poplar in the north. Not sure if you'd find it there in Canada or not. I'm sure there are other fairly soft, grain benign hardwood (i.e. deciduous) species native there. ...maybe aspen???

uncle pete
03-09-2011, 02:26 PM
Only you can judge if the asthetics will satisfy you, But it really isn't that hard to "fish" wires. It can be time consuming and frustrating, But there's almost no job that is impossible. My opinions of course are just that, But I think if you do what you want it will always look exactly what it is. Just a way to hide the wires.


mike os
03-09-2011, 02:27 PM
to be sure of teh no grain MDF or ply would probably be a better bet... ir cover the timber frame in mdf?

03-09-2011, 02:45 PM
I'd make it out of 4130 ;)

In all seriousness, you could probably do it out of sheet metal and hit it with a good primer that will topcoat with latex paint (assuming that's what you are using in your kitchen). I suppose that's an awful lot of effort to go through, though.

You could make it out of pine and then hit it with a high-solid primer like the stuff that you put on bare sheetrock before painting. Then lightly sand the primer after it is dry and it will hide the grain. I did that in my parents basement to in a couple of places and it turned out well.

Mike Burch
03-09-2011, 02:50 PM
Brian, just make it out of whatever's to hand, sand it as smooth as you can get it (remembering to round off all the edges so the paint will stick), seal the grain with sanding sealer, sand lightly again, and use a high-build primer on it, sanding lightly between coats. When it's perfectly smooth, undercoat and topcoat as usual.
You'll need to do this whatever timber you use, so don't fork out for something expensive.

03-09-2011, 02:52 PM
Well, seeing as I really hate working with wood,(mostly cuz I don't have the right tools) I would be machining that bracket out of some aluminum plate. No grain for sure.:D

03-09-2011, 03:08 PM

X2 on the MDF. (medium density fiberboard)

Not my favorite material but that job would be a good fit for it. Couple coats of primer and a couple coats of paint and you would be stylin.


Dan Dubeau
03-09-2011, 03:44 PM
+3 on the mdf. Watered down (no too much just to thin it a bit) drywall mud makes a great edge filler for mdf. will swell it slightly, but can be sanded and smoothed down then painted to look plastic like.

brian Rupnow
03-09-2011, 03:52 PM
I've got a contractor/carpenter/painter working here and he votes for poplar as well. I will probably go with the poplar, as I don't need much of it. I would be a bit shy of MDF because its right over top of the kitchen sink and dishwasher, and I've had problems in the past with MDF around moisture. Probably my information/experience is out of date---I'm sure they have better resins now than they did the last time I used MDF, which was about 15 years ago.

03-09-2011, 04:05 PM
I think any fine grained trim grade wood would be OK. Or, you might try 1 by pine and cover it with sheetrock. Or just bash a hole through the ceiling drywall and run the cord (romex?) to a junction box, and spackle-patch what mess you made.


brian Rupnow
03-09-2011, 04:14 PM
Goose--The area in question is right at the outer wall of the house, on a single story building with 18" of blown in rockwool insulation. The house has beautifull plastered ceilings. I weigh 260 pounds and although I MIGHT be able to squeeze thru the trap door into the attic and swim thru the rockwool to the edge of the attic space, its pretty damn doubtfull that me or the plastered ceilings would survive. As for fishing wires, yes, I could possibly do that, but the Ontario hydro code calls for a junction box attached to the ceiling joists to connect any wire to. My ceiling joists are not centered over the sink. I have convinced the wife that my cantilever strut idea will work, and she likes the design.

Dan Dubeau
03-09-2011, 04:33 PM
I have convinced the wife.....and she likes the design.

If there's one thing in life that I've figured out so far is that the above is all that matters.

03-09-2011, 04:36 PM
Poplar probably is your best bet, easy to cut, sands very smooth, fairly tight grain. Totally hiding the grain is a function of lots of paint and sanding between coats. It really won't take real long if you use water based paint. It might seem like you're not getting anywhere but then all of a sudden the grain goes away.
Have faith, wood is not poisonous or anything! (OK, most of it isn't...)

Your Old Dog
03-09-2011, 04:54 PM
................................... I have convinced the wife that my cantilever strut idea will work, and she likes the design.

You know Brian, lights are way over rated. There's a lot to be said for learning to feel your way around in the dark. But if you insist on pursuing this endeavor I would also opt for Popular. MDF, cardboard, particle board and such are just a slick way of plywood manufactures to get rid of their waste. :D I don't even like mdf for roofing! Show some class and pop about eight bucks for a piece of popular !!

J Harp
03-09-2011, 05:11 PM

I'd say go with the poplar. Cut out and sand the parts, then apply two or three coats of shellac before you assemble it. The shellac will take care of the moisture absorption problem, Just don't fling your adult beverages on it! After assembly and installation, sand lightly, prime and paint to suit.

brian Rupnow
03-09-2011, 05:54 PM
Since we are already well underway with an off topic thread, I am going to expound a little more---:D :D My wife and I own a big house---about 2200 sq, feet on one floor, 3 bedrooms, and a fully finished basement. The kids are all grown up and moved out, and we have had many conversations that go like this."We really should buy a smaller place. Taxes would be less, heating costs would be less, we don't need all this room now that the kids are gone, lets buy a smaller house. There would be less maintainance and upkeep in our impending golden years!!!"---------Then we would go for a drive, and every damned house that we LIKED was bigger than what we have now, and cost $100,000 more than our house is worth.----Time for a sanity check. We have an ideal location, we have good neighbours, we have a country setting, but we are only 5 minutes from 3 malls, a bank, a drugstore, a liquor store, a hardware store, and a post office. Our house is worth about $400,000, and the RealEstate wants 5% of that to sell it----So, $20,000 for them, and another $5000 for lawyers, movers, land transfer taxes, etcetera.
I have an excellent office, garage, and workshop space here. So----The decision was made---lets just spend that $25,000 fixing this place up and stay where we are. Last fall I put in a new high efficiency gas furnace and air conditioner, and got rid of our forced air electric furnace. That cost $10,000 but my heating bills have dropped from $900 a month for electriciy in the winter to a combined total of $300 for gas and electricity each month this winter. We have had painters in for the last 2 weeks repainting all of the house except the bedrooms. Wife has gone stone crazy buying all new light fixtures except in the bedrooms. The oak kitchen cabinets are all gone out to be painted (which makes me go moderately crazy, but the wife wanted that).----Hey---she has stood by and watched me build three $20,000 hotrods over the last 22 years, and never made a squeak about it. The kitchen is getting all new appliances and a granite countertop. By the time we are finished ---which should be around the end of March, we will practically have a new house and we didn't even have to move to get it. I just have to hope I live for enough years now to enjoy all this!!!---Brian

03-09-2011, 06:00 PM
I have been a builder for many years,
I would fish the wires up in the ceiling install an old work box in and mount
light to ceiling. If your not confident doing it yourself a good electrician I am
sure can do the job properly as said the shelf thing will look just like a shelf thing.
but if your going to do the shelf get some tight grained pine sand smooth
two coats primer sand between coats and two top coats use a tac cloth.
good luck

Alistair Hosie
03-09-2011, 06:04 PM
The grain should not show through with a decent primer .I.E. preferably the one which is designed specifically for the paint being used or as said use MDF with an MDF seaLER Alistair

03-09-2011, 06:20 PM
Find some nice clear pine, do a dado cut on top for a groove to stick the cord in..

To get rid of the grain, find some thin wood filler...I like the hardwood floor filler, butter the whole thing up and then sand with 120 grit. You won't see any grain marks.

03-09-2011, 07:05 PM
Poplar by far is a superior choice in my opinion. The grain is super tight, the wood is very strong, it is quite stable, and it is easy to work with. I keep several poplar in my wood shop for almost everything that requires a nice look when finished. I am also preparing to build all new custom kitchen cabinets with, you guessed it, poplar face frames and rail and stile doors.

In fact, I just finished designing and making a prototype of a travel dial indicator for the lathe. I used poplar wood, and will now mill the final design from aluminum. The poplar worked well for the intricate detail.

I guess I vote for poplar.

03-09-2011, 08:02 PM
Why not "wood machining"?

03-09-2011, 09:09 PM
I had to do something similar some years back in an apartment with rendered concrete ceilings. The only alternative was to chase the wires into the concrete ceiling. My suggestion is to build it from whatever you like, but as others have suggested then finish it with what you guys call drywall mud. Down here there are two types of drywall filler, and I expect it's the same there. The first type is designed to build, but dries very hard, doesn't sand easily, nor provide an especially good finish. The other type is designed for just a skim finish, it's quite soft, and sands to a beautiful finish. There's no point in me providing brand names as it's likely they're different where you live. Anyway needless to say, it's the latter type of drywall filler you're after. It's also a good technique for finishing the edges of MDF BTW, after routing or otherwise finishing the edges of the MDF, run some "Fine Finish" drywall filler along the edges and they can then be painted and will look just like the face surfaces.


03-09-2011, 09:41 PM
Poplar is a nice wood, but in my area it's only available in boards that are nominally 1 inch thick , as in a 1 x 6. The actual thickness is 3/4 inch. It looks like you will need a piece thicker than that, unless you want to glue two thinner pieces together. However, a 2 x 6 of SPF ( Spruce, Pine, or Fir) will measure about 1 1/2 inches thick . Any wood can be filled with brush- on wood filler, and sanded quite smooth. ( But avoid plywood or MDF for this project). It will take a couple of coats, with sanding between coats. Choose a piece of wood with no knots, since softwood knot pitch can bleed through your final finish. There are water based wood fillers that have a lower odor than traditional solvent based fillers. However, some fillers sand nicely, and some clog up your sandpaper. You need some luck there. If you're going to match the finish on your wall or ceiling, you'll probably have a textured finish anyway, so your wood piece won't have to be perfect.

03-09-2011, 09:45 PM
You shot me down when you said the wife was having the oak cabinets PAINTED, which, to me, is anathema, too. I was going to suggest that you make it from a nice piece of oak, and use contact cement and oak veneer on the sawn edge, to cover the grain.

I abhor the thought of painting ANY wood. One of my kids painted her birch ply cabinets what she calls her favourite color.

I don't like poplar. It is used mostly for carcase framework, wood which will be hidden under "good" woods, like cherry or oak. To me, it has no character of its own. I'd sooner use knotty pine. THAT has character.

Granite countertop is probably better than marble, though my youngest has marble, and her husband, a kitchen-bath, designer sells a ton of it, and she considers it totally impractical. Marble, that is. Splotchy from water splashes, stains easily, anything acidic will eat at it, breaks glasses and dishes if you are not careful, drop something on it and get a spall.

Too late, of course. 5 to 10 thou for your counter top is not going to be foregone.



03-09-2011, 10:08 PM
You do realize that what you've illustrated there is totally contrary to any electrical code - and that if the house burns down because of a mishap in the fireplace, in another room, while the power was out anyway...the insurance company will blame it on your wiring?

Not be a party pooper, or anything...

Frank Ford
03-09-2011, 10:48 PM
brian -

As a lifelong woodworker, my first thought was, "Why not make it of metal?"

Rather than trying to make it appear as a strange architectural part of the wall/ceiling, why not make it look like part of the light fixture?

I'd go with polished brass work, or whatever fits the situation and style of the electrical fixture. Don't want to spend that much on metal stock? Then try using whatever wood, and fabricating a sheet metal skin of brass or appropriate colored metal. A few neatly countersunk screws can be a style element, if you have an open mind.

Now, as to the "code," all I can say is that I've lived in and modified (safely, mind you) my own house now for 40 years, and the building inspector and I work with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Mike Burdick
03-09-2011, 11:14 PM
Make it out plywood - it can be the inexpensive type - meaning both sides are not finished. Then... apply the drywall compound on the entire surface and finish the joints like one would finish drywall. Paint as desired.

brian Rupnow
04-07-2011, 08:58 AM
Changed my mind.

Black Forest
04-07-2011, 01:02 PM
Changed my mind.

OK, I'll bite! So what did you do instead?

Lew Hartswick
04-07-2011, 06:28 PM
OK, I'll bite! So what did you do instead?
He probably "went fishin". :-)

brian Rupnow
04-07-2011, 07:12 PM
Nah, I had a change of plan, thats all. I couldn't find a way to delete a post I had just made, so I scrubbed what I had posted and then had to put in some text to get the darn thing to save.