andrew1185

Birch Butcher block desk finish advice

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Hello!

I'm currently in the process of building a birch butcher block desk and was wondering what finish you would suggest to bring out the beauty of the wood and a durable coat for daily use. I'm a software engineer so I use many monitors and would like that something that would not case to much glare. Ill attach a photo of the birch block ill be working with.

Thank you so much in your time in reading!

birch-hardwood-reflections-butchers-block.jpg

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+1 to @drzaius. Wipe-on poly is almost idiot-proof, and provides a durable finish. I've used General Finishes Arm-R-Seal, as well as Minwax Wipe-On Polyurathane. The appearance and durability is pretty much the same, although I found the Arm-R-Seal a little more difficult to apply.

The directions for Arm-R-Seal suggest flooding on a heavy coat and wiping away the excess, but even at a room temp of 75 degrees (F), I found that it 'tacked up' to quickly to self-level when doing this with a rag. I had better luck applying it with a foam brush, laying it on heavy, then lightly going back with just the tip of the brush. 

For Miwax Wipe-On, I use a rag moistened with mineral spirits. I wipe it on in circles to fill in the grain pores, then lightly wipe with the grain to level it out. Makes a thin coat, so I repeat until the desired build is achieved. Minwax seems to tack up more slowly, but is dry enough to scuff-sand and re-coat more quickly.

I said all that to support this: Experiment on something besides your shiny new desk top before you apply a finish you aren't experienced with!

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A finish that we used at the cabinet shop was Emmet’s “Good Stuff”. It's a urethane based product, that is wiped on. The company that we bought BB tops from highly  recommended it. 

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Thanks so much for the replies! @drzaius I already purchased and cut the wood so I must go down the birch path, but thanks for the suggestion. Its going to be a pretty large corner desk with 3 pieces, the wings are 6'x2.5' and the middle is 3'x2.5'. should I cut the Arm-R-Seal with mineral spirits to get a little more working time, or should it be fine without it? I'm very new to this so any sanding suggestions would be appreciated.

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This is roughly the process I use with Arm R Seal and have always had good results. 

I finished my desk top (roughly 7’x3’) with ARS Satin. I think I added a bit of mineral spirits to the ARS (in a separate cup) and applied 4 thin coats. Coming up on 2 years and it doesn’t show any signs of wear. Plates, cups, mugs, etc have been left on it and slid around on it. My toddler loves to flip my keyboard around, and plays with all sorts of toys on it.

 

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2 hours ago, andrew1185 said:

should I cut the Arm-R-Seal with mineral spirits to get a little more working time, or should it be fine without it? I'm very new to this so any sanding suggestions would be appreciated.

The suggestions made by others here are good ones. I'll just add that it is a good idea to use some of the off cuts as practice pieces. You'll soon get the hang of it.

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