table top water stain refinishing

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Forum topic by SchwaNa posted 05-23-2018 02:36 AM 500 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SchwaNa's profile


6 posts in 783 days

05-23-2018 02:36 AM

Topic tags/keywords: table furniture water stain stain finish refinish tru oil

Hello everyone,
I was asked to help with a project – A really nice coffee table that got a big “cloudy” water mark from a wet bowl that was sitting on it for too long. I suspected that the water was only in the finish and not in the wood and it seems like I was right. I stripped down the old finish and sanded a bit more until the whole top was smooth and even.
What would you recommend as a protective finish for a coffee table?
Is tru-oil in general a good finish for a table top? On it’s own or does it need another layer on top of it?
Should I use something like a wipe on poly? I’ve had bad experience with spray-on poly but maybe with a small, flat surface it would yield better results?



5 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile


677 posts in 1397 days

#1 posted 05-23-2018 01:18 PM

Half dozen coats of wipe on poly should do the trick. I have no experience with tru-oil. I usually mix my own wipe on poly. Mix your favorite oil based poly 50/50 with mineral spirits and you have wipe on poly.

-- Sawdust Maker

View PPK's profile


1751 posts in 1587 days

#2 posted 05-23-2018 06:15 PM

Tru-oil is similar to boiled linseed oil/danish oil, etc. I THINK. It is an oil that dries/hardens. Somebody will probably correct me on this. But I’d put something a little more tough on a table top if I were you. I second Ido’s comment above. Poly is a very good finish, and very tough. It’s different from the “drying” oils in that it will have a chemical reaction with the air and harden to create a much more watertight coating.

-- Pete

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2446 posts in 941 days

#3 posted 05-23-2018 08:14 PM

if you google Tru-Oil recipe, you will find that many craftsmen such as
gunsmiths, archers and luthirers make their own homemade concoction
that is purported to be as good or better than the commercial version of Tru-Oil.
onboard wooden boats, this recipe is used on mahogany table tops to avoid water marks.

there are some variations depending on personal choice and knowledge of the products involved.
here is a couple of examples:

1 part Pure Tung Oil
1 part Pure Danish Oil
1 part Pure Mineral Spirits
½ part Oil Polyurethane Gloss.

56% Mineral Spirits
33% Spar Varnish
11% Boiled Linseed or Tung oil.

1/3 Tung Oil
1/3 Boiled Linseed Oil
1/3 Gum Turpentine

when mixing your own special blends of anything, try to use ingredients that state “100% PURE”.
less costly items such as “paint thinner” “oil finish” or “easy water cleanup” should be avoided.
some thinners such as mineral spirits could be derivatives of or reclaimed/recycled products and may
provide less than favorable results.

extra mineral spirits or turpentine will speed the drying time.
A splash of Japan Drier is optional, as well as other ingredients of choice.
This type of finish is labor and time intensive as it takes at least 5-8 thin hand rubbed coats
applied 24 hours apart to be really effective against water stains.

any rags used in the prepping/finishing process that have paint, stain, solvents,
or oils on them, should be laid out in the open to completely air dry prior to discarding them.
improperly discarding rags that have wet oils and finishes on them could result
in spontaneous combustion that could result in a fire causing personal injury
or the total loss of your shop or home.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View SchwaNa's profile


6 posts in 783 days

#4 posted 05-24-2018 02:43 AM

Thank you very much!
I saw today that I need to do some more stripping and cleaning of the top. I missed some spots.
I’ll do that.
Then my plan is to lightly stain the wood, to revive the color a bit after the intense sanding,
Then I’ll finish it with the rub on poly as mentioned above, (I have a new bottle of tru oil but I’ll save it for another project like a guitar).
Someone recommended oil based poly. Any reason why not the water based one? (other than price)
between layers of poly – Will it be helpful to wet- sand? If so what’s the lube? water? spirits?
also – I saw so many posts about how after all the stain and whatever finishes were applied there’s still more to do: rubbing compound, polishing compound, wax etc. etc. Which of those is really necessary?
Thanks again and I apologize for my novice questions.


View PPK's profile


1751 posts in 1587 days

#5 posted 05-24-2018 02:49 PM

There’s about as many ways to finish as there are opinions on what food tastes best! Lol.

I don’t wet sand, but you can. It’s most important in my opinion to make sure you get all the sanding dust (or paste if you wet sand) off before moving to the next coat. A rag wetted with mineral spirits works well for this. Or with water if you’re using waterborne poly. I’ve had equally good luck with waterborne poly as oil based poly. However, please note that you CANNOT thin waterborne poly very much. Most manufacturers say do not thin it at all. But when pressed, I’ve got them to say up to 20% max. Oil based poly on the other hand can be thinned 50% with no bad effects.

Final rubbing out is pretty much to make it “perfect”. It gets the final surface super smooth. Do it if you’re not happy with the way your poly laid down. Otherwise, I’m usually perfectly content with just leaving it at 4 coats of poly :-)

-- Pete

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