Vikings, Shug Monkeys and hand painted kitchens
Traditional Painter member, Richard Willott, has uncovered many interesting factoids and stories during his travels hand painting kitchens around E Anglia. Vikings, Shug Monkeys and hand painted kitchens is one such example.
This particular project finds me towards the Cambridgeshire / Essex borders, just outside the small village of Balsham.
The Vikings are coming
Back in 1015 Viking raiders totally destroyed Balsham. Joining the historical dots they were probably led by King Cnut no less. The sign on the village green commemorates the sole survivor of the attack who escaped by hiding in the parish church. I’m sure I saw someone matching his description on my way to the village?
Or was it the area between Balsham and West Wratting which they say is the haunt of the mythical Shug Monkey??
Don’t mix Shug Monkeys and hand painted kitchens
In the folklore of Cambridgeshire, the Shug Monkey is a creature that shares features of a dog and monkey, which reportedly haunted Slough Hill Lane. This street leads from the village of West Wratting to nearby Balsham). Apparently the creature has the body of a jet-black shaggy sheepdog and the face of a monkey with staring eyes. They believed it was a supernatural ghost or demon.
Down to the business of hand painting a 23 year old kitchen
Anyway, once I arrived on site, the renovation project on this solid maple kitchen was in full swing.
The preparation process begins with degreasing all the surfaces. This step is so important to the completed finish. My preferred cleaning method involves a 50/50 mix of Fluxaf Pro Clean and a coarse green scourer.
Once I had safely loaded all the removable components on to my van, I was ready for the journey back to my work shop. Meantime, I treated the carcasses and end panels to a good sanding using a combination of 120 and 240 grit Abranet. I use an ever faithful Festool RTS 400 sander which guarantees well abraded surfaces. The dust extraction system is second to none, keeping any mess to an absolute minimum.
(If you like toys, I mean, tools, on the TP forum there are many threads highlighting the pros and cons of different Festool sanders.)
Having wiped everything down clean with a methylated spirit cloth, I applied the first of two coats of adhesion primer. This primer is the link between the timber and subsequent coats. In simple terms one side hooks into the substrate binding tight, and the top side provides a platform for the next coats to hook into. Clever stuff!
The following day I was back at the workshop using the same procedure on all the doors, drawers and kick boards. If the kitchen paintwork is to last well, it is vital to lavish ALL surfaces with the same amount of care and attention to detail. We often see examples where the only consistent effort is on the fronts of the doors, but that isn’t professional kitchen painting in our books.
Handles, a simple but effective upgrade
When clients are looking for the best bang for their buck to upgrade their kitchen, it is common for us to suggest new handles. So simple yet so effective. Sold. All existing holes were filled using a 2-pack filler before skimming them flush with an ultra fine filler. I lightly sanded and removed all dust and set to on the primers.
Once the first coat of primer has dried it is time to sand it flat. The next coat of undercoat primer tends to be tinted to the chosen colour to maximise depth of colour in the final finish. This last primer is in turn de-nibbed (lightly scuff sanded) to prepare a perfect base for the final 2 top coats of waterborne enamel.
Once finished at the workshop, I returned to site avoiding scary looking men and Shug monkeys. The last step is to apply the finishing coats to all the static furniture before rehanging the doors carefully. I drilled new holes for the new handles.
Choose a colour, any colour
For this hand painted kitchen, the clients selected Becker’s equivalent to Manor House Grey. Mr & Mrs S were absolutely delighted with the complete transformation of their kitchen and sent me this lovely review.
“Just wanted to let you know how delighted we are with our ‘new’ kitchen – it has been transformed.
Having such a well built kitchen it would have been such a waste to scrap it and start again… by painting it and changing worktop and handles the 23 year old kitchen now looks brand new.
From the comments we have received most people can’t believe it is the same kitchen. Very much appreciated your help, advice and professionalism. I had expected dust, mess and smelly paint so I was very pleasantly surprised. None of this was the case. I have already recommended you to friends and would happily sing your praises to anyone. We don’t let just anyone have a key to the house but felt happy to trust you.”
very best wishes,
Sarah & John
Praise indeed. Richard has many reviews here if you would like some more perspective on what is possible.
And whilst Richard is a consummate kitchen painter who thinks about sanders and abrasives and paint almost all day every day, there is time for day dreaming too
PS: I’ve decided once I retire and start distilling whiskey, I shall call it ‘Shug monkey’, that’s copywritten now 🙂
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