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Several Options

Posted by Billy on January 5th, 2002 01:27 AM
In reply to bar top help please! by valerie murray on January 4th, 2002 06:22 PM [Go to top of thread]

Page 46 of the current issue of Fine Woodworking has an article on using marine varnish as a durable and easy to use furniture finish. The article demonstrates the finish on mahogany. Here's a link to the table of contents, but I think that the article is not online -- you have to buy the magazine.

I built a cherry dining table and I wanted a finish that would be tough and impervious to water and alcohol. (I never understood why people get a nice dining table and then cover up the wood with table pads and a tablecloth.) Polyurethane was out as I don't like the plastic look on fine wood. A tung oil finish is not tough enough, although some of the tung oil/poly combinations may have the right balance of protection and sheen. I used a resin oil varnish made by Behlen, built up a number of coats while sanding between coats, and polished it with progressively finer grits of rubbing compound and a buffer. This resulted in a quality mirror (not plastic-looking) finish. Finally I cut the gloss by rubbing the top lightly with super-fine steel wool. This resulted in a finish that is somewhere between a satin and a gloss finish. I don't worry at all about wet glasses or alcohol on the table. It is more durable than lacquer.

By the way, rubbing compounds work best on hard finishes. Marine varnishes are generally too soft to rub out well. The gloss version of a finish is usually harder than the satin version of a finish, so start with the gloss finish and if you want a satin finish, rub off the gloss with steel wool at the end after you have rubbed out the finish defects and imperfections.

Lacquer is good but it can be difficult to apply without spray equipment and experience. Brushing lacquer is generally not as tough as spray lacquer but others may disagree with me.

Good luck!

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