Table top finishing advice

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Forum topic by MJR posted 03-28-2018 10:26 AM 380 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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323 posts in 1017 days

03-28-2018 10:26 AM

I’m working on a small table and eventually a dining room table. I’m using black walnut. For tables and furniture I usually sand to 220 then sometimes use danish oil then top coat with a hard finish like lacquer or poly. I want a shine but not too glossy. I was thinking oil then buff or oil, wax then buff? Or progressively sanding to 2000 or more then buff? But that would close the pores of the wood and then it wouldn’t take any oil or other finish. So any advice on how to get a nice old school shine but not too glossy would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

3 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile


609 posts in 1222 days

#1 posted 03-28-2018 12:17 PM

You can still use your regular finishing scheme, but rub it out with 0000 steel wool to take it back to a satin finish. As always, test on scrap. One caution, the poly will take quite a while to fully cure and harden to the point where you should rub it out. Not knowing your environment, I would allow at least two weeks after your final coat of poly. YMMV

-- Sawdust Maker

View OSU55's profile


2498 posts in 2593 days

#2 posted 03-28-2018 12:34 PM

Any finish can be rubbed or polished to the gloss desired. Some are harder and require more work. Poly is excellent for table tops and not too difficult to rub, but the caveat is ghost lines (between coats). Ghost lines become an issue when a fully filled finish is desired and a defect is found requiring leveling of the finish by removing a significant amount. Poly cant be drop filled like lacquer or shellac. Can also rub thru the finish into stain. My way around all this is to use dye in the poly for color, thin the poly 1:1, and apply it like danish oil, flood, soak, wipe off. After 1-2 coats wet sand with ms to smooth and fill, recoat. Once level thicker coats can be applied by wiping, brush, spraying to desired film thickness then lightly leveled and rubbed.

View MJR's profile


323 posts in 1017 days

#3 posted 03-28-2018 05:14 PM

Both great tips for the poly, I didn’t know you could take it back like that, As for the lacquer, I would just use a matte or semi gloss instead of gloss. I failed to mention in the beginning that I was trying to achieve the finish without using poly or lacquer. Thanx!

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