I know it has been awhile since you all have heard from me last, but I've been working three jobs, not to mention this too. Needless to say the gallery area of my shop is still in the just get er done stage, but I do have a couple of pieces made for the wall. I don't want to add anything to the shop tour thread until it is ready. And then there is this. A storied piece of wood, and I'll leave the story part to Alex, since it is his wood. My part in this story starts when I saw Alex trying to put a finish on this with a rag and some poly with one light bulb hanging on a wire. When he told me the story of this piece of lumber and what he had intended it to be -- a conference table or really high end dining table -- I practically tackled him and said this needs a special finish, one that will look French polished but have the durability of cross linking when we are done. He agreed, and we are currently getting it ready to be the featured piece of the Texas Furniture Makers Show in the fall, he'll tell you about the Fine Woodworking connection.
It took four of us to carry it to my shop and the sanding began. BTW - the slab is 37" wide, over 1" thick and almost 14' long. I followed the advice of a finish specialist and he convinced me that this new product, a water emulsion version of linseed oil, should be wiped on first to pop this piece, followed by sealer and top coats, etc. Test piece went fine, but I apparently didn't let the oil dry long enough after wiping it off (about 8 times the recommended time) and when I went to start sanding the first seal coat it pealed like sunburned skin. I should have trusted my instincts, but we weren't that upset since we both felt the oil darkened it too much, anyway. We ended up scraping that off and starting over again (talk about some sore forearms), this time trusting my gut and past experience. Lacquer. And since this was mahogany, after all, how did I want to fill it? Because it was such a special piece, I didn't want to muddy things up with any filler, though we did experiment on other pieces with different fillers, and they all did just that, muddied things. That meant lots of coats, instead, slowly filling the little valleys and pits until it got closer and closer to glass smooth. It has, so far, taken 13 coats of lacquer to finally fill nearly everything, and I am currently letting it dry for a week to see if I want to squirt it another time or two before moving on to the catalyzed varnish for the final topcoats (I'm guessing 3), using a finer needle and aircap with each successive coat. I'll then let it cure for at least a week before beginning the wet sanding and hand rubbed final stages for the luster we are looking for.
Here are a couple of pictures of the wood itself, followed by a link to more of the process. Like I said, I'll let Alex tell the history... Though, you have to be careful, since I'm not sure you can believe everything he says.