Finishing advice please!

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Forum topic by chris41586 posted 01-29-2020 06:04 PM 597 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 265 days

01-29-2020 06:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish spray seal stain

Hello fellow Crafters! Just joined this forum, so I’m not sure if I’m posting this correctly, but here’s my question: I’m making a farmhouse style dining table and matching bench. I want it to look rustic, but also tasteful, so after I get it all put together, I’ll do some sort of grey wash. I’m not sure how to post a photo, but each board on the table top panel is chamfered where they meet. I’m wondering if I should do an epoxy top to fill in the spaces to avoid things getting stuck in the cracks, but I don’t think it’ll flow with the theme. Usually I use a spray lacquer to finish smaller projects, but I’ve never finished something if this size. I would greatly appreciate any input on what kind of finish to use for longevity. The brush on finishes I’ve used before have given me drips, so I would also appreciate feedback on that if it’s suggested. Thanks to any input and experience shared!

Edit: I’m using my phone for this, and couldn’t figure out how to post a photo, so my profile picture is the table top

11 replies so far

View CaptainKlutz's profile


3703 posts in 2371 days

#1 posted 01-31-2020 09:03 AM

Lots of questions, some short answers:

1) Do not fill the cracks. Wood moves. If you fill in the cracks, the wood can’t move, and will crack/warp/bend as the humidity/temp changes.

2) Can spray large projects, it is just very expensive using rattle cans. Most folks invest in spray equipment, to allow buying materials cheaper in bulk. Tons of forum threads on spraying finishes, please search for them. Too much information to repeat here.

3) Brushing a finish is a SKILL, it takes time and patience to learn how each material prefers to be ‘handled’. Using the proper brush is critical to learning how to brush paint. Cheap paint brushes give cheap looking finish. Invest in some high quality brushes, like Purdy brand; if you want to improve your brushing skills. Again, tons more forum posts on art of brushing finishes, search the forums.

4) For a light grey wash coat, try using a thinned down milk paint. Many brands to choose from:
Everyone has a favorite, many times based on local supply availability, so its hard to recommend one brand. Search forums and ye shall be rewarded with many options.

5) My kids are too destructive to table tops for me to use just any top coat. Suggest using brushed on Arm-R-Seal (oil based Polyurethane), spray a pre-cat lacquer, or spray an industrial grade 2 part Polyurethane as top coat. But that is my family, not yours.
Water based finishes are not as durable as solvent base, but they are easier to spray, with less fumes. If you want to learn more about different top coat options for table, yes, search the forum. Lots of threads on this topic as well.

After you have read up on the topics you listed, feel free to post specific questions that can more easily be answered in a short reply.

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View LesB's profile


2620 posts in 4320 days

#2 posted 01-31-2020 06:45 PM

So, first off what ever you do make some sample test first.

There are stains that can give you the “grey” wash look. I have little experience with Milk paint but either stain or thinned paint will need a protective top coat for use on a dining table that will be subject to liquids and other spills. I see that Varathane brand has a “weathered” look stain and poly combination which might save finishing time if it suits you color requirements.

I tend to disagree with the idea that oil based top coats are more durable than water based finishes. There are water based poly finishes that are regularly used on floors and what needs more durability than that; most are marked as Floor finishes. They are easier to apply, crystal clear so they don’t effect your under coat color and 4 coats are about as durable as you can get. They also have a “white” color before they dry which makes it easier to spot runs and drips and have little odor. Be sure to sand between coats and the first coat or two may seem to soak in but it will build with additional coats. The final coat can be rubbed out with a white 3M pad and paste wax after it has cured for a week or two. The best temperature for applying water based poly is between 60 and 72 degrees which allows brushed on coats time to level out to a smooth finish before it sets up. Use a good quality brush.
I have used it on table tops and stair treads that get lots of use and they have proved to be very durable. I use Rustoleum’s, water based Varathane Floor Finish.

-- Les B, Oregon

View LittleBlackDuck's profile (online now)


5730 posts in 1698 days

#3 posted 01-31-2020 10:31 PM

Welcome newbie chris’... You’ll regret asking questions as you’ll get befuddled with information overload... just kidding… you should get some great advice from knowledgeable members…

On a serious note,

In any “post” screen (project, blog, review, comment), click on the img icon,
On the drop down screen, click on the Browse icon,

and on the following screen, click on the Insert this image icon,

It’s easier to comment against a picture, knowing the inquisitor and the inquisitee are both on the same page.

PS. If you want to make a link to a URL page (Youtube, PDF, remote image (DropBox)), cursor highlight some text (in blue) and click on the circled icon in the picture,

On the following drop down screen, paste your URL address into the spot.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View Rich's profile


5952 posts in 1466 days

#4 posted 01-31-2020 11:40 PM

I’ll start off by saying that filling cracks with epoxy will not cause the wood to crack, warp or bend. I do it all the time and have never, ever, seen that occur, so use epoxy if you want.

I do have to ask though, why are you using boards with chamfered edges if you plan to fill it in and finish it with what I assume is a fairly opaque material? I really have no idea what a “grey wash” is, so I’m just guessing it’s going to obscure the wood to some degree. Is this some lumber you just happened to have laying around?

Why not rip the chamfers from the edges of the boards and do a regular glue up with a surface you don’t need to fill? I’m guessing you’ll lose 1/2 to 3/4 inches width per board doing that, but so what? Use an extra board if you have to.

EDIT: OK, I assume that your profile photo shows the table in question. If so, you’ve obviously already assembled it, so removing the chamfers is out of the question. At this point, I don’t have any suggestions. Next time around it’d be a good idea to address some of these issues before you start to build.

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

View chris41586's profile


2 posts in 265 days

#5 posted 02-01-2020 03:13 AM

Thanks Little Black Duck for helping me with that. As you guys can see, the wood I’m using came like that with double tongue and groove. I got it from a scrap pile at work, and I wanted to make something nice out of it. I do like the look with the chamfers, I just didn’t know if too much stuff will get caught in the cracks. I really appreciate everyone’s feedback. It’s nice to see different perspectives on how to go about this.

View LittleBlackDuck's profile (online now)


5730 posts in 1698 days

#6 posted 02-01-2020 06:34 AM

... Thanks Little Black Duck for helping me with that….
- chris41586

Normally I would have said you’re welcome, however, you had to post that sideways photo

May I please suggest you look at this post... for my sanity’s sake! Personally, I don’t think there is an excuse for posters thinking that sideways picture are OK. Sorry, but to me it’s a phobia.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View OSU55's profile


2658 posts in 2866 days

#7 posted 02-01-2020 01:24 PM

Yes “stuff” will get trapped in the chamfers, and an epoxy coating is about the only choice if you want to level the top. You want a rustic look, which a fairly thick film of epoxy violates, but…The glossy epoxy can be rubbed back in gloss to help with a more rustic look.

If you want a thinner film waterborne would not be a bad choice in this case since you want a gray stain on it. The loss of chatoyance with wb wont matter with a pigment stain already hiding the wood. Best sprayed but can be done with higher quality foam brushes, easy clean up, little smell, no need for a respirator if brushed. Practice on scrap boards until until you have the look you want – dont get in a hurry. As for a gray stain, cant help a lot, I never desired that look, but the thats what milk paint is really designed for. Put on a sparse coat, dry, do a little sanding to knock some of edges here and there and the hi spots on surfaces, topcoat. Looks like an antique. Called a distressed finish. There are some wb stains that will do much the same.

View Snipes's profile


459 posts in 3121 days

#8 posted 02-01-2020 02:28 PM

You could coat with epoxy then sand back leaving just the grooves filled with epoxy. Add some pigment to the epoxy

-- if it is to be it is up to me

View LittleBlackDuck's profile (online now)


5730 posts in 1698 days

#9 posted 02-01-2020 08:29 PM

Sorry Chris’, that picture is driving me batty,

normally I would boycott post with sideways pictures, but you being a newbie you deserve a second chance.

Check out Dutchy’s Coffee table... he incorporates what you have with what I reckon is a classy finish. If you quiz him, I’m sure he’ll give you all the details… in Dut-lish...

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View cowboyup3371's profile


173 posts in 1074 days

#10 posted 02-02-2020 02:38 PM

I personally like the look of the table with the chamfers as they are. Once you apply the finish, you could always go old school and put place mats around the eating areas and maybe in the middle to hold any condiments and such.

-- Cowboy Up or Quit - If you are going to quit than get out of my way

View PBWilson1970's profile


121 posts in 270 days

#11 posted 02-02-2020 06:26 PM

For a weathered-grey look, you can apply vinegar with steel wool soaked in it. Youtube has a number of videos showing this.

Then I’d go over it with a thinned varnish or a wiping varnish to protect it. I’ve used Minwax Wipe-On Poly and Waterlox many times. After a few coats applied with a rag and wiped down, they build up in a reasonable amount of time and you won’t get runs and drips like you might with a strictly brushed on finish. Minwax is lighter in color and Waterlox is quite a bit darker. Several coats (5 maybe?) will protect it well but won’t look like it’s encased in plastic. Rubbing back with steel wool can give you a satin or matte look.

Not sure what to do about the grooves. A dustbuster vacuum could take care of any crumbs in the grooves.

Since the look is rustic, don’t worry about keeping it pristine. Well-used furniture shows battle scars well and tell a story of its life through the years. Good luck!

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.

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