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Thread: Counter top Finish

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011

    Counter top Finish

    I needed a bath room sink counter top, and decided to use up some pieces of walnut and mahogany left in the scrap corner.
    It's a small 18" x 34", 3/4" pieces glued to 3/4' backer sub base ply, w/small oval copper bowl. Will probably not stain, maybe
    just several coats of clear urethane product. Need suggestions for a good product that has a good water sealing properties
    and yet hard enough for typical counter top abuse. (It's in the guest bath room and sits in front of the commode, so it's
    gotta look good). Thanks everybody for any help Gary Rutledge

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    do you have spray equipment? if so use a conversion varnish type product.. magna max has good water resistance but i dont think you could brush it on.. dave hawksford uses the stuff all the time. i saw some bar type finish on a application like that and for me it was to glossy. you could check out homestead finishing for some advice, jeff is top notch finisher..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Austin, Texas
    I suggest you stop now. 3/4 inch hardwood glued to 3/4 inch ply will fail... The ply has basically no expansion, and the hardwood expands across the grain. Hardwood veneer on plywood doesn't fail, because the veneer is so thin that it loses it's ability to expand and shrink sideways, and has to move with the underlying layer, but 3/4 inch of each will fail. There is no magic thickness that is the max, but I wouldn't consider a solid wood layer more than about 1/16" thick (after sanding, etc.) on top of plywood or MDF substrate - some people start with 1/8 inch but then remove a lot during the final sanding, etc.

    I love looking at furniture in museums, and practically all the "veneer" from previous centuries (hand cut to perhaps 1/8 inch) has delaminated from the backing, if you look closely (through the cracks, etc.)

    I built a bench for my shop... I was struggling between the strength of plywood, and the smooth surface of MDF, so I glued a layer of each together. Stupid move. Even these two materials with minimal expansion are different enough that some times my bench is convex, other times concave.

    My BIL built a table with wood flooring samples glued to plywood. Looked great for a few months. Now has gaps between the boards (the wood expanded and crushed the adjoining fibers, then when it shrank, the crushed fibers left a gap)
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    To answer Larry Merlau, yes, I have most all types of spray equipment, and as you advised I ck'd out the Enduro-Var Water Based Urethane on homestead finishing site .Looks like they carry just about everything. Thanks for the heads up. Charlie. I can't stop now, because it's all done except the protective finish. I did consider some of your concerns when I came up with the idea of a wood top, but did not think there would be that massive amount of movement in a controlled environment. Years ago, we used to build all the cabinets on the job site, and 90% of the doors were plywood slab and hardwood trimmed edges or surface applied deco, all glued in place. I don't recall problems with excessive cracking or separations. However, you got me worried now. I have not screwed the completed top to the cabinet yet, have been thinking of thin slotting/cutting parallel 3/4" deep groves on the underside of the ply wood running the length and maybe alleviate some of the movement. ??? Too many hours invested to just chunk it. Need to think on this some. Thanks Charlie for alerting me of your concerns. While ago I went out to the shop and took a pic of the top to try to post, and it got pretty cold out there. By the way, I live in LaVernia out side of San Antone, and I'll be coming to your neck of the woods, to Austin, in the morning to deliver some cabinets. IH 35, traffic city.
    Thanks .............Gary Rutledge
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