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A friend and I are being asked to re-finish a number of tables, stripping them down and re-varnishing them. Is there such a thing as a one-coat varnish?-and does it really do the job in one coat? Everything I've read about it seems to suggest otherwise. If you had to do a number of tables as cheaply and efficiently as possible, also keeping in mind that these tables are going to undergo a fair bit of wear-and-tear, how would you go about it. Thanks so much.-Guillermo
 

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I don't believe in one coat solutions myself, and for something that will take a lot of abuse, I'd recommend a slightly different approach. A paint chemist once told me that even when a finish appears to be dry, it's still curing for 6 weeks or so - and if you can keep it away from ultraviolet and physical abuse, then any finish (regardless of its relative quality to other finishes) will last far longer.

What you might consider is a piecemeal approach so that this becomes what I call a chip-away project. You don't devote a LOT of time to it at any one time, but use it as fill-in work. If the customer is agreeable to that, there are several benefits for both sides. I will often give someone a lower price on some work IF I can use my time flexibly.

This also give you the chance to develop a "system" approach to these tables which may save you more time than your initial estimate.

Another approach is to install a sacrificial layer on the top that will take the abuse. I've used door skins with a 1X2 edging glued on to fit snugly over the original table, and then finished it with a two coat approach. Also consider doing a multi-coat system with sanding sealer - which dries and cures faster - and then a final coat of a tougher finish.

Just a few thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Bob. I was computerless while we were doing this job, so I wasn't able to use your suggestions, but it'll be helpful in the future. Are you any relation to Virginia Brandt Berg?
 
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