Dining table finishing nightmare

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Forum topic by Tishman posted 06-22-2017 05:11 PM 839 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tishman's profile


16 posts in 1416 days

06-22-2017 05:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: dining table maple danish oil finishing question

Hi Lumberjocks,

I’m working on finishing a mostly maple dining table with some walnut trim and am having some serious issues on finishing. I was planning on just using General Finishes High Performance water based top coat. I’ve used it before and liked it but never on something this big/wide.

Here’s the situation as it stands now:

Leaves, breadboard ends, and underside and aprons are all finished with GF HP Water based topcoat and I’m happy with them. I finished the top with the same thing but couldn’t get a smooth enough finish without tons of brush lines, etc. Tried thinning it per recommendations on website but still no luck.

I sanded it all off (so I thought) and went all the way up to 320 in prep for finishing it again, this time with several coats of danish oil, wet sanding with coats 2-3, and then a few wipe on poly after a few days of curing, then final buffing with wax.

After I got the first coat of danish oil on and was wiping it dry, I realized that maybe I hadn’t gotten all of the GF HP finish off of the top, as there was some uneven absorption. I was not thrilled. I tried wiping off with mineral spirits ASAP and that got some of the Danish Oil off. I let it sit overnight. This morning, I scraped and sanded until I got to raw wood again (so I thought). Sanded from 80-320 again. Tack clothed and blew off dust and went for another go at the DO/wipe on poly plan. Got the first coat of DO on and then went to wipe it off and AGAIN, inconsistencies. The places that looked best were the ones where I had done the most scraping. Even one spot that upon closer inspection, had a little dip in it from sanding and that’s where the oil looked best. Most of the wood looked dull still and the grain hadn’t popped, which leads me to believe there was still the GF HP stuff on the wood. I was pretty certain I had gotten down to raw wood, but maybe not!

Advice? Do I need to wait a day for the DO to fully dry, then sand yet again down to 80-320? Am I screwed? I want it all to look like the spots where the grain popped. Should be fairly obvious in the pictures.


3 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


13017 posts in 2987 days

#1 posted 06-22-2017 06:53 PM

Pick one finish, stick with it. After the first coat, sand it smooth. Water or alcohol base finishes will raise the grain and need to be sanded back again. Might have to do it again after the second coat. (You can also raise the grain and sand back prior to the first coat of finish.) After that the coats will be smoother but at the end you may have to buff or polish the finish. Also, do everything on scrap first. If you experiment on your project then you end up in this kind of situation. Don’t worry, many of us have been there.

Personally I would try to remove the danish oil because it’s a poor finish for a dining table but if you don’t get it all, it will cause problems with the waterbase.

-- Rick M,

View Andybb's profile


2376 posts in 1210 days

#2 posted 06-22-2017 07:42 PM

I agree with Rick. I would also recommend that 320 is too fine a finish before applying your top coat. According to the finish guru Flexner 220 is about as fine a surface that you want to apply the finish to because anything finer doesn’t allow the finish to penetrate the wood. Planing or scraping might be a better/faster/more efficient method to remove the Danish oil, especially if you’re gonna use a wb top coat.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View TungOil's profile


1372 posts in 1102 days

#3 posted 06-23-2017 03:55 AM

You might want to seek out a local shop with a wide belt sander to really take this down to bare wood for you.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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