Refinish a Table Top #2: An Update to Refinishing This Coffee Table Top with TransTint Dye

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Blog entry by HappyHowie posted 01-17-2017 06:45 AM 2707 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Neighbor's Coffee Table Part 2 of Refinish a Table Top series Part 3: Completed Refinishing this Coffee Table Top »

It has been over two weeks since I have written about my attempts to refinish the top of this coffee table. Here is what has transpired. I reached out to Charles Neil for help. He accepted to assist me, or at least give me advice. There were attempts to clean what appeared to be blotchy areas. Charles was interested in the contents of the finish remover product I used. Was there bleach in it? The answer was yes. Sixty percent of the product was bleach. Charles had me use a small amount of laundry bleach with a brush to attempt to clean a small area. It had no affect. He also had me place a small amount of the finish remover on the table top and then using a brass brittle brush to clean a small area.

Still there was no change; it did not clean what looked like a blotchy area.

Based on this we concluded that whatever we were seeing was inherit in the wood, the table top. I contacted my neighbor and discussed the results and the condition or state of the table refinish. Martin came over. He thought the table was okay and invited me over to his house to see the end table that was a match set to this coffee table. That was news to me. I did not know this coffee table had a matching end table in his house. I took a photo of the end table.

We also inspected it closely and concluded that it also showed what we were seeing in the coffee table I was working on. There were light and dark areas on the end table; some were small and others covered large areas on this table’s top. Later Martin dropped by and stated that he wanted this table’s top to be dark. That is how he saw the condition of the end table and his view of the coffee table. With this in mind I was going to apply my dye mix liberally.

I relayed this information to Charles Neil in an email message. I stated that I thought the way forward would be for me to go ahead and apply dye to the table top again. This time I would wipe on the dye mix with a cloth soaked in the dye mix. Charles replied later that he agreed with my conclusions. He recommended that after after applying the dye and then spraying on the top coat of finish that I should scuff sand the surface and the give it a wash coat of dye to blend in the color more, if needed.

Yesterday I poured some of the dye mix into a separate container, then I soaked my cloth into the dye. From this I wiped the dye onto the table top. Working it to all areas with an attempt to keep the amount of dye even. I was pleased with what I saw; especially so as it dried.

Today, I decided to spray clear Zinsser shellac to seal the dye on this table top. I gave it three coats of clear shellac. Once it dried I gave the surface a scuff sanding. I wipe the surface clean with a dry cloth. I liked what i was seeing. I liked the result.

Then I began spraying Minwax polyurethane. This was the choice of finish that Martin wanted applied. I had also suggested we could spray lacquer, but polyurethane was the finish coat he wanted to use. By the end of this day I have now sprayed three coats of Minwax polyurethane.

I plan to spray at least another three coats or more of polyurethane again tomorrow. I will then inspect the coffee table’s legs and shelf. If there is any damage due to use, I will scuff sand those areas and then spray this polyurethane to cover those areas with this finish. After completing these steps I should be done and Martin can have his coffee table back. By the way, Martin has been very supportive to me during this whole process.

-- --- Happy Howie

5 comments so far

View CharlesNeil's profile


2501 posts in 4478 days

#1 posted 01-17-2017 02:21 PM

well done

View HappyHowie's profile


473 posts in 2552 days

#2 posted 01-17-2017 08:10 PM

If successful it was due to a lot help and coaching from you. Thanks Charles.

I have also been very appreciative of those members on this website that have given their advice and kind comments. All of you have been very helpful to this woodworking novice…

-- --- Happy Howie

View HappyHowie's profile


473 posts in 2552 days

#3 posted 01-17-2017 08:59 PM

I will spray one more coat of polyurethane.

When this last coat dries I have been thinking that I will apply and buff a thin coat of dark brown Briwax. I like the thought of people touching the furniture’s hardwood grain. When the finish shows the beauty of the wood’s grain why not be tactile? The top coat finish on this coffee table is protective, but not so thick as to fill every pour of the grain, I think. Maybe they are filled but only give the appearance of not being filled, fully. I like the idea that the owner and guests wanting to “feel the wood” by touching it with their fingertips. The total experience should be sensual to the touch, don’t you think?

Furniture made from Mother Nature’s products like stone, iron and wood should be beautiful like she presents herself…

My neighbor Martin dropped by this morning shortly after receiving my text update. He seems to be very happy. He will have this table back in his home either this evening or early tomorrow. They will be reunited.

-- --- Happy Howie

View Mean_Dean's profile


7017 posts in 3755 days

#4 posted 01-17-2017 10:41 PM

Well, this has been quite an ordeal for you, getting this thing refinished. I like that you stayed in the game, and kept working at it until you got it right.

I think the lesson I learned here is not to spray the dye, but wipe it on, as I always have, and touch up as necessary. I think spraying was a worthwhile experiment, but in the end, wiping is the way to go.

But in the final analysis, if Martin’s happy with the table, then that’s all that really matters!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View HappyHowie's profile


473 posts in 2552 days

#5 posted 01-18-2017 12:15 AM

This has been a good learning experience: what to do and what not.

I may never spray dye again, but I learned something here too. I wrote to customer services at Fuji Spray where I bought my turbine base spray gun system. I told about my spraying dye that included the large dropleta that I saw. I asked if the #3 needle that came with spray gun was too large for spraying this water base dye. I wondered if their #2 needle would have given a better result. The answer I received was that I was on the right track. The 1.0 mm #2 needle would have atomized smaller droplets. Thus, I would have had a better result spraying dye with their #2 needle.

I have since ordered and received their #2 and #4 needles. I will have those on hand the next time I use my spray system. I will test and make better choices when spraying.

-- --- Happy Howie

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