My first coffee table

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Forum topic by christherookie posted 05-12-2017 01:54 PM 613 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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144 posts in 3899 days

05-12-2017 01:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish stain shellac varnish

With a handful of projects under my belt, I’m ready to make a coffee table. What I don’t know is how it should be finished. I know it will get its share of cups, mugs, and plates resting on the surface. I just don’t know shellac from shinoal about what to use to protect it. if I stain it, what do I use to cover the stain? Do I use shellac? Again, I’m new at this.

5 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile


1734 posts in 3702 days

#1 posted 05-12-2017 03:05 PM

If you’ve got kids I strongly recommend water based polyurethane, it’s easy to apply easy to clean up, and i have proven with three kids through their teenage years that it will endure.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View pintodeluxe's profile


6206 posts in 3665 days

#2 posted 05-12-2017 03:13 PM

Sprayed lacquer is my favorite. Two coats and you’re done.

Many people also rave about general finishes wipe-on Arm-R-Seal, which is a urethane.
It may take a little more time to build a finish, but if you don’t have spray equipment it may be the best choice.

As with any new finishing schedule, make sample boards and finish them with each step you plan to use (including sanding through different grits).

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View OSU55's profile


2658 posts in 2842 days

#3 posted 05-12-2017 03:14 PM

If you want to add color, subtle to intense, dyes are the best. Since you are new at this, look at general finishes dye stains. Eventually you will want to mix your own (easy to do). For a topcoat, water borne (gf has one) or oil based poly (minwax works great for me). If wiping or brushing, recommend oil based. Yes ob poly can go on over wb dye/stain, and vice versa, but wipe ob stain with dna/h20 1:1 before applying wb finish.

View Rich's profile


5884 posts in 1441 days

#4 posted 05-12-2017 03:34 PM

Shellac, lacquer, poly — both oil and water borne — are all good choices for a coffee table. I’d recommend taking some scrap, sand it like the table will be, and play around with all of them. See which one you get the best results with.

Edit: reading Willie’s post, which came along while I was getting around to my reply, reminded me that wiping is so much easier than brushing if you don’t have a sprayer. In fact, Minwax wipe-on poly is about as foolproof as you can get, but there are lots of other options like he mentioned.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Ub1chris's profile


133 posts in 2232 days

#5 posted 05-12-2017 03:39 PM

I like wipe on poly for something like this. It’s hard to mess up. Goes in easy and quick and provides good protection. Better with more coats.

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