A small conference table - the build #7: Apply varnish to the top, and more on the legs and aprons

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Blog entry by Al Navas posted 02-06-2009 03:10 PM 4375 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Start applying the finish to the top, and set up legs and aprons Part 7 of A small conference table - the build series Part 8: Finish the underside of the top, and get walnut ready for the legs »

From my blog:

Where I was a while ago: Application of the Zinsser SealCoat™ (an alcohol-based, wax-free sanding sealer) went well. The secret: Apply very thin coats with a lint-free rag, wiping as you go. Wait a minimum of 2 hours, then sand with 400 grit sandpaper, until smooth to the touch – but don’t sand all the way to the wood. Repeat once.

Today: 1) Time to apply the first coat of Target Coatings’ EM2000wvx waterborne alkyd varnish:

Also today: 2) I fine-tuned the mortise and tenon fit on a test leg made of scrap, glued-up quarter-sawn white oak (QSWO):

Now, some details.

Setting up the FMT to make the tenons – I don’t want to do this while perched 6 feet above the ground, so I do this with the FMT on the workbench:

As a first step, I record all dimensions for the test tenons; this simply makes it easier to tweak the fit:

Just for kicks, I make sure I won’t cut through into another mortise. For this I make a new test mortise, at 90° from the first one, on the face where the other tenon will be – I cut this one, to share with YOU:

Now, to cut a test mortise:

This is my view when I remove the router from the FMT:

I wanted a 1/4-inch reveal from the front edge of the leg – and got it:

Now that the mortise and tenon joinery fit has been tweaked, I turn my attention to spraying the table top.

Getting ready to spray took about 10 minutes. The steps:

1. Filter water into one Teflon®-coated aluminum spray cup, using a Fine paint filter – I will use this water to clean the internals of the HVLP system; I will do it after spraying each of the 2 or 3 coats:

2. Stir the top coat. Satin sheen coatings have a “flattening agent” that settles to the bottom of the can; it must be stirred prior to application:

3. After stirring, filter the topcoat using a Medium filter, directly into a Teflon®-coated aluminum spray cup:

4. Proper application of a finish using HVLP equipment requires careful adjustment of the air flow, and of the material being sprayed. I shoot into Kraft paper I tape to the back panel of the booth:

5. Once I am happy with my adjustments, I start spraying. I am especially careful to fully coat spray all edges, and about 3 inches into the top surface. This ensures proper coverage:

6. As soon as I finish spraying I inspect the surface, to ensure sufficient coverage. The applied spray must be “wet”, and applied at a wet film thickness of 2-3 mils (thousands of an inch); if not, the finish will have a somewhat rough feel. On inspection, this first application of the varnish went well (the final appearance will not be shiny, but rather a nice, satin finish):

Actual spraying took about 5 minutes, followed by about 5 minutes to clean up the spray gun.

Enough for today. After cleaning the spray equipment, I headed to the house, and a wonderful dinner – spinach salad and a few crackers!

Next: Continue spraying the table top, mill the QSWO boards for the aprons, finish milling the walnut blanks for the legs, glue up the legs. Use the Leigh FMT to cut mortises on the legs, and the tenons on the aprons.

Thanks for following along!


-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

4 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4791 days

#1 posted 02-06-2009 05:12 PM

Al, you are at the fun stage of the project when you can finally see an end in sight and all your hard work is beginning to come toghther. This is looking good.

Out of curiosity does your exhaust fan vent to the outside or are you solely using it to trap air borne particles on the filter?

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

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4844 days

#2 posted 02-06-2009 05:27 PM



The exhaust fan is piped to the outside. The filter is present to catch the bulk of the dry coating particles – with HVLP, the coating dries fast, and it is dry by the time it hits the filter. It is one way of protecting the blades on the fan, and to keep it well balanced.

Not shown in these photos: An intake filter between the main shop area, and the finishing room. Since I exhaust to the outside, I must make up the air volume from somewhere, to keep the air pressure in the shop balanced. I simply crack a window in the shop, the air is pulled in, and no negative pressure problems develop. BUT I must remember to crack open a window… ;-) Pulling in air from outside this time of year means cold air, and the furnace works a little harder when I spray.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View DocK16's profile


1198 posts in 5055 days

#3 posted 02-06-2009 09:20 PM

Love that Zinsser Seal Coat. Makes for a nice even stain and smooth final finish.

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4844 days

#4 posted 02-07-2009 12:38 AM

It sure helps to have the SealCoat on white oak, before applying the waterborne top coat.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

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