final finish on table?

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Forum topic by david51st posted 10-30-2008 05:39 PM 1703 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 3761 days

10-30-2008 05:39 PM

Hello All,

I have an antique dinning table with a top that could not be saved. I built a table out of the Stickley standard 5/4 quarter sewn white oak. This table will be lived on by my wife, 2 young children and myself. I have already applied 4 coats of Varathane oil poly over two coats of stain. (I wish I had found your forum first, so I hope I did the correct thing so far.) It look great but there are a few minor dust spots and bubbles. Even if I sand again and apply a 5thh coat I figure this will happen again. I have been reading about people who let the last coat of poly cure for 5 days, then wet sand their table with a 3000 grit auto body paper and then apply rubbing compound and auto wax and to sanded poly and buff. Is this at all a good idea? does the wax turn white with heat or water? Can I, or should I apply a coat of wax to a dinning table. is sanding and adding a wipe on poly finish better? or sanding and then some form of polish? My kids will be doing homework, art work and eating off of this table 3 hrs a day. I am hoping to come up with the best finish to withstand that use. If it is the way to go can you provide me a brand name that worked for you in the past? Thanks in advance for your advice and help.

2 replies so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4088 days

#1 posted 10-31-2008 02:06 AM


It sounds as if you have a good routine with respect to finishing your table. Whether you want to go with the extra steps is largely a matter of personal taste. If you are interested in getting a glass smooth finish on the table top then wet sanding/wax is a good way to do so. Oak has large open pores in the wood and, to get a glass finish, they have to be filled in some fashion. Wet sanding, as you have described, is a good way of doing so.

If you are simply after a protective finish and want to blend in the areas that you are describing then scuff sanding followed by a coat of wipe on poly should take care of it. You have four full coats of poly on there now. I have steps that have this level of poly that have been in use for years- kids, dog, etc- that still look just fine. A fifth coat of wipe on poly will add a lighter coat of poly but one which will dry quickly and, if the bubbles are coming from brushing, this should take care of it. But the bubbles could also be coming from the wood itself. Since oak is a porous wood the bubbles could be working their way out of the interior of the wood and becoming trapped in the Varathane poly as it skims over. Either way a coat of wipe on poly should help give you the finish quality that you are looking for.

One other thing you might have done is seal the stain coat with a top coat of shellac. This would not only seal in the stain but also help with sealing the wood and providing a smooth base for the poly application.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 4010 days

#2 posted 10-31-2008 02:24 AM

When I use poly, I generally follow the advice Scott just gave. I sand the final coat, after a couple of days, with 400 grit, then follow with a coat of wipe on poly. I leave it up to the customer whether they want wax or not, although the wax will give it a little extra easily renewable protection.

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