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Thread: Dining Table Finish Recommendation

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Reno NV
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    Question Dining Table Finish Recommendation

    So just wondering if there are any recommendations for a finish for a largish dining room table.

    I don't really think I want anything glossy, I'd like for it to be pretty durable and stain resistant, easy to apply, and able to be applied in the cold weather.

    I can probably heat my shop up a bit on the really cold days to be able to apply a finish, and even during some parts of winter we have some decent stretches of days here in Reno.

    I was thinking of some sort of wiping varnish? Any recommendations would be very welcome!
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    somewhere east of Queen Creek, AZ - South East of Phoenix
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    I'd use the following.
    BLO
    Transfast or transtint dye to the color you want
    Old Masters Gel Varnish
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  3. #3
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    Ahh, I guess I should have said that the color I'm going for is 'natural'. Looking for something to basically match our kitchen. The floors we'll put down and the darkness of the countertops provide the contrast, so I'm looking for a fairly light table.

    Thanks Don!
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Are you going for "maple white", or a sorta' "golden" maple? If you're shooting for true-to-color maple, your best bet will be either one of the non-yellowing water-based polyurethanes or a lacquer (yes, you can get a matte finish out of lacquer). If you're shooting for a golden color, an oil-based polyurethane is the ticket - that or WB poly or lacquer over shellac of the appropriate shade.

    Um... how much work are you willing to put into finishing this table top?

    One problem may arise - you NEED to keep the shop stabilized at temperature until the wood's reached both temperature equilibrium AND humidity equilibrium (which changes when you heat the air), THEN apply your finish. Ideally, you'd also "soak" the wood at temperature until the finish is fully cured.

    The wood will start to move when you warm it up, shrinking as it dries to the now-lower humidity that comes with warmer air. It'll move until it's matched the ambient humidity, then stop. Apply the finish too early you arrest that shrinking. When you bring the table into the house later, it'll slowly shrink more in the warmth of the house - and that extra shrinkage may cause ripples, wrinkles, & cracks in the finish. Really - hold it at temperature for a week, even if you have to put up a small temporary cardboard room around it to get'er done.

    I've hitchhiked (WOW what a mistake!) through Reno - it's dry, but your heated house is drier.
    -- Tim --

  5. #5
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    Brent i could not help myself. But are you already finished/
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Hofstetter View Post
    One problem may arise - you NEED to keep the shop stabilized at temperature until the wood's reached both temperature equilibrium AND humidity equilibrium (which changes when you heat the air), THEN apply your finish. Ideally, you'd also "soak" the wood at temperature until the finish is fully cured.
    Thanks for the good advice Tim. I'm not necessarily going for a 'honey' maple. I don't plan on doing any staining, but if the finish darkens or yellows the wood a bit, that wouldn't bother me too much. Since this is basically going to be a daily use table, I don't want to go for too glossy of a finish.

    We actually keep the place pretty cool in the winter time, but definitely much warmer than the shop. I've probably got a few weeks where temperatures will let me get the glue up done. Once thats over, I'll have to figure out something else for the finishing.

    I'm very fortunate to have a very pragmatic and understanding wife. I'm sure I could re-arrange some of the furniture in the house and bring the table top inside for finishing.

    Right now I'd say I'm leaning towards a oil based poly, just because of the ease of application and durability, but then again, I don't really know that much about finishes...
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash


  7. #7
    My answer would be Polyurethane, and lots of it. Gloss not Satin. Satin is loaded with light dispersers that mask the shine by misdirecting the light. Unfortunately it also begins to show cloudyness as you add coats and sometinmes looks hazy. I prefer a gloss finish followed by an oil rub to tone down the gloss to the sheene you prefer. After the finish is several days Hard. you can uses a soft cotton cloth and Mineral oil, spread the oil about and then sprinkle a small amount of Pumice begin rubbing the slurry all about (doesn't take long to tone down the shine. Wipe off the mix and polish to a luster, Add a coat of Paste wax and hand buff. This finish and texture will resist hot dishes, scratches, spilt liquids and alcohol. Wipes clean with a damp rag and if scratches should occur, you can re-rub down and polish.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Rochester
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    I think you'll want something hard and impervious to moisture....poly or possibly Waterlox. Bill's idea to tone down the gloss by rubbing is good, but you can also use gloss on the undercoats and use just one coat of satin to reduce the hazy look it give with multiple coats.
    Got Wood?

  9. #9
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    Sep 2007
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    St. Louis, MO
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    Gloss has a higher solids content than satin or matt. If you go with poly, consider using gloss for the first few coats and applying the satin as the final coat.
    paulh

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Central NY State
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    Good advice given already, and I've little to add, except this - even if your good wife will allow you to apply a poly finish in your home, you might not want to. The off gassing and smell from curing poly is awful. One option might be to put a small portable electric heater under or close enough to the table top to stabilize the temperature well enough to cure in the shop.

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