the greatest tool ever made

Marian ParsonsDecorating, home improvement, Tips and Tricks, Tutorials49 Comments

This post does is not about pretty pictures.  I am tearing my home apart to paint my kitchen cabinets and family room walls and ceiling after all. 
 I bought some pears today for my next Cottages and Bungalows photo shoot, lined them up on the window sill and snapped some photos.  I just couldn’t help myself.

Now that I’ve gotten the pretty picture show-and-tell out of my system, here’s the practical stuff.  For those who don’t know, I am in the process of painting just about every surface in my family room and kitchen.  I’m in the thick of painting the cabinets, now, and there are lots of them.  Fifty one doors to be exact. 

Today one of the teenage girls in our youth group came to my house to help me out.  She hadn’t been able to find a summer job, so it worked out well for both of us…and she is such a trooper.  She wiped down all of the cabinet doors with Gloss-Off.  Someone asked what the purpose of using Gloss-Off was…  First of all, it cleans the cabinets, which is really important.  Cabinets get dusty and food splattered and coated in grease that will repel paint and it needs to be removed.  Second, it knocks the shine off the surface a little and gives it more “tooth” for the primer to grab. 
I used Gloss Off on the cabinet frames, sides and drawer fronts this morning and then started the priming.  I’m using Zinsser primer and I’ve been really happy with it so far.  It is a water based primer, but can be used with an oil or water based top coat. 
I selected Benjamin Moore’s Impervo in White in a satin finish.  I’ve heard good things about this paint and it’s what the experts at True Value suggested I use.  It is oil based, but I am going to take the plunge and put it through my sprayer to use on the cabinet doors.  It will save me hours, so it’s worth the clean up. 

For the cabinet faces, sides, trim and drawers, I am using this teeny-tiny trim roller and a Purdy brush.   

Now I’m going to share one of my tricks with you.  Do you want to know the greatest tool ever made to apply wood putty to fill cabinet knob holes?  Hint: It’s not a putty knife.

The human finger.  I’ve applied wood putty to hardware holes with a putty knife for years until I finally figured out how much easier and neater it is to do with one finger.  You do make a mess of your hands, but you have much more control over the application.  Here’s how I do it…
I scoop a pea-sized amount of wood putty onto my finger tip, then press it into the hole I want to fill. 

I then swirl my finger around until the putty is smoothed out and flush with the cabinet or drawer front.  I’ll wait for the putty to dry and then apply one more thin coat, followed by sanding with a sanding sponge.  Use your fingers again to make sure the surface is entirely smooth, so the holes will blend seamlessly when painted. 

Oh dear…look at those finger nails.  They’ve made it clear as day that I haven’t had my spa day, yet.  Okay, okay I’ll do it when I’m done with all of my painting…
the greatest tool ever made

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49 Comments on “the greatest tool ever made”

  1. I cannot wait to see the kitchen reveal! I had to short sale my house over a year ago and have been renting until I can buy again. It pains me not to be able to paint this kitchen! So I live vicariously through people like you lol.

    Also have to thank you. You always seem to have the cutting edge techniques and products and I'm always learning something from you. However this time I had blink twice to see that you had not been using your finger to apply wood putty! I have always done this. Watching my dad all these years building this or that. I guess he did teach me something =)

  2. We have been talking about painting our kitchen cabinets this summer. I hope we get to it, thanks for the tips. I will be back to see the finished project.

  3. Thank you for such an informative blog! I enjoy reading all of your posts. Do you think chalk paint would work well on cabinets too? Just curious. Good luck with your cabinets;that is quite a job!

  4. I also found that if you plop a piece of painter's tape on the back, it doesn't squish through… I am so excited to see your change. I should've rented a sprayer, it's probably a ton easier..

  5. i saw your terry-cloth style cuticles and thought exactly what you said. you have managed to put your spa day on hold for another day. C'mon already. you deserve a nice restful day. please take one. as much as we all live to see your next installment, we want you to feel good too.

  6. Being a painter myself, that is one thing I can hardly wait for after a job… a manicure, ahh… When I am working on one, my oldest daughter will ask me if I even took a shower that day…love you too :P. SO excited to see the final pictures!!

  7. Boy you keep reminding me…sigh!! I need to get my kitchen cabinets painted!!! But I am balking for sure!!
    Great tip on wood putty! Thanks

  8. Even if you say your hands could be that rough, I think the other way around. One could have flawless beautiful hands but not the talent that you've got. Nevertheless I thing your creations are pretty much wonderful which defines your hands. buy aion accounts

  9. I was looking at your pics and wondering how on earth you managed to get a pic of my hands! Mine look exactly the same. Who has time for perfect nails when inspiration is all around and nails won't last anyway. You do such beautiful work & are such an inspiration.

  10. I use Ben Moore Satin Impervo on all the trim in our home. The sheen is so beautiful and it is a durable paint! and well with 3 boys (1 big and 2 little) in my home I am all about durable! Off to paint trim as I write this!
    Can't wait to see your finished product!

  11. I like your ring,is it made from a spoon end or fork? I had my husband look at your before and afters so he could understand what I've been talking about. Miss mustard this and that . He gets it now!!! Please don't worry about your nails in the pics,we in blog land understand. Do your trademark your furniture ? I really think you should send pics of your pieces to Pottery Barn ,Restoration Hardware,Ballard Design. I could see your line in their catalogs!!!!! Have a great day.

  12. Anxious to hear how the paint sprayer works with this paint. I have done my cabinets, and love the look. But, the doors are still in the garage, waiting. I have been putting it off for soooo long, just dreading painting by hand. But! If the sprayer works well for you….I'm in!

  13. Hi Marion…I've used BM Satin Impervo oil based paint for all of my moldings in my house – I still am loving them after nearly 6 years when we did it. I used it in my all time favorite color – OC-94 (Windswept) – a whisper of a cream color…mainly because it was the closest color to my kitchen cabinetry.

    I have a tip for filling the holes in your cabinetry. I too use my finger all the time – but first I insert a golf tee…then saw off the thick part in the back. It always seems to fit just right into the holes. Then I use the wood filler (use much less and it dries faster!).

    Love, love, love your blog – I read it every day now). Check out my website – In my portfolio section, you can see my kitchen and how I addressed my backsplash (which I know you you wondering what to do with yours). I'm a decorative artists as well – and so I "made" my own tiles with a texture from Faux Effects. Would love to get your opinion of it! Thanks for sharing as much as you do!


  14. Excited to see how faboosh your cabinets are going to look! I wear a spoon ring on my middle ringer too, but on my right hand. 🙂

  15. Oh I don't envy you right now. We painted our kitchen cabinets (7 years ago) when we moved into our house. We used an oil based primer and paint. So glad we did. They are still going strong and it's a good thing. I have no desire to do it again for another 7 years. We unfortunately did not have a spray gun, we did it the old fashioned way…brush and roller. Just don't get any hair brained ideas like I did and decide you want to paint the INSIDES of the cabinets too! At least we started that with the cabinets that we put the glass in the doors. Needless to say….those are the only ones that got the insides painted. Best of luck. Can't wait to see your finished project. I know they will be beautiful.

  16. Your ring! I thought it looked familiar and then I realized I have a set of spoons in that pattern! "Reigning Beauty" Oneida heirloom sterling!

  17. I have been dreaming of painting my kitchen cabs for months now. I am down to 2 final inspiration photos. I wake up each day looking forward to see and read how your painting is coming along. I'm hoping after you are done sharing the experience and tips I will have the confidence to start my project.

    Thanks. Love visiting your blog each day.

  18. You mention using a sprayer. I am thinking of investing in one. Which one do you use and would you recommend it? Also, any useful piece of advice about using a sprayer? Thanks!

  19. My husband says the same tool is perfect for caulking too. He's done our tub surrounds and says it makes for a much smoother finish than any man-made tool on the market!

  20. I have been using Benjamin Moore paint for the last 35 years. Every professional painter I know has always wanted to use it. Martha Stewart used to have her television studio in the next town. She had her own line of paints, first with that European manufacturer, next with K Mart. She used to send someone to our town's paint store to have her paint colors mixed up with Benjamin Moore paint. So, you can't go wrong there! All my trim is OW-36, or Linen White. Makes things easier. I am avidly watching your progress. As is half the blog world. Can the husband help, or do you have to do it all yourself for the DIY Team? Ann

  21. Can I tell you how GLAD I am that you are painting your kitchen cabs?! My husband Finally agreed that we could paint our orange oak cabinets, so I am writing down everything you are doing because I have no idea how to do this. Thanks for the info!

  22. Oh I can't wait to see your painted cabinets. I've been thinking about painting mine but hubby won't hear of it. I wish you can come over here and have a chat with him…painted furniture is a good thing! And your nails look fine, mine are just as pretty. My dear old mom keeps saying to me, oh you should really do something about those nails…why bother when they are either in dirt or paint!
    Marianne 🙂

  23. Ok seriously. The most important thing I need to know on this planet is WHERE do you get your energy?? Please respond, I am exhausted and in the middle of packing for a move in 2 (YES TWO) days. I'm not finished, and I keep having to sit down for a break! Please reply ASAP! SOS!


  24. you are such an inspirations! i loved seeing your hand and your spoon ring at work! thank you for sharing your work and your knowledge with your readers. I am amazed at your energy then my husband reminds me that I was just like you at your age. But after the death of a child and 10 yrs, I am not as energetic as I once was. I enjoy living through you now…

  25. When I repainted my cabinets I sanded and then use ammonia to clean them. I think your option is a great solution too. Good luck, I only had 21 doors and with the sprayer I thought that was enough.

  26. I have also found my fingers the best for applying wood putty, or repair for small drywall holes, and also silicone around tubs and sinks. However I often use thin gloves to save on clean up when using silicone 🙂

  27. Good luck with your cabs! When I was thinking about doing mine, Impervo was all I heard about too. But, I went to a BM store and they showed me a new product called Advance-it's an oil/water hybrid that's supposed to flow and harden like oil but without the mess (it cleans with soap and water). I wonder if they have that by you? I'm sure you've started already, but I just wanted to mention it for anyone else thinking about doing this. The cabinets have worn really well, I'm very happy with it!

  28. Hello! If I were to win the Chalk Paint give away I would choose the Paris Grey and Napoleonic Blue. The Grey because I love grey as a neutral and it seems you have mentioned it as a good mix color and also as a pretty neutral and the Blue because I have a piece I've been dying to try the chalk paint on and its in a place that it could be a wonderful punch of color. This is such a generous giveaway. Best regards in all your creative endeavors.

  29. Now that your wonderful line of paint is out, I’m dying to paint my kitchen cabinets. My plan was to use milk paint then wax them. I know this post was a good while ago, but if you had it to do over, would you use the Impervo, or milk paint? (I have around 30 cabinets to paint and no sprayer…). What do you think?

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