Walnut table top


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I getting near the finishing process for a Walnut farmhouse table. I have researched dozens of sites to be sure i dont mess this up and thought i would ask you finish experts' opinion.

Here is what i want to do:

1. After sanding down to 240 grit, 3-4 coats of watco danish oil with 400 grit wet/dry sand paper during initial coat. ( I have read this paste will fill the pores nicely) Subsequent coats will only be sanded after it has dried overnight using 0000 steel wool.

2. 1-2 coats of Bulls Eye Amber shellac. Now i know most will recommend using only dewaxed shellac; however, i saw a video Marc where tried this and has not had any problems with regular shellac (not dewaxed) over oil finish. the reason i want to use the shellac and (not dewaxed) is i really like the color the amber adds to the walnut but the amber is not dewaxed. Should I cut this? I think out of the can the Bulls Eys is approx 2# cut. Based on the next step does this need to be cut down?

3. I would like to add a few coats of Poly for protection. Is this necessary? I have read that Watco is a mixture of oils and varnish so perhaps the protection is adequate w/o the poly. I am not looking for a thick film just lasting protection from three hulligan kids. Also any adhesion problems after oil and shellac?

Attached is a pic of the tabletop.

thanks in advance for your replies.

post-6284-0-25894400-1328398524_thumb.jp

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Of course - it's always great to do a test piece with the finish process first if you can - that way you know if there are any problems or you want to adjust.

Honestly - after step 1, check and see what you think. A lot of people (myself included) might just stop at that point. That's 4 coats of a good danish oil which (while I don't specifically know about Watco) should include some varnish (resins) and thus building a finish (not just penetrating oil).

But for more protection, you do want to build a thicker finish to the top - shellac or poly could do that -- just let the watco fully dry.

And the slurry from step 1 will help fill the pores if you care about that. Personally, I don't so much - but I never really go for a shiny finish (where pores stop that shine). But I've done the wet sand and it's pretty satisfying.

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I'd be inclined to go with fewer coats of oil. Two or three will get you plenty of color. After that, you're into building a film and for that, I'd skip the poly on top and just build more coats of shellac. Burnish with steel wool and paste wax, buff to a shine and you're done.

If longevity with a trio of hooligans is the concern, then lets just accept at the outset that the top is going to get scuffed over the years. Years from now, you'll have a much easier time renewing, recoating and/or repairing shellac than if you've used poly. (Just don't spill any vodka on it.)

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1. After sanding down to 240 grit, 3-4 coats of watco danish oil with 400 grit wet/dry sand paper during initial coat. ( I have read this paste will fill the pores nicely) Subsequent coats will only be sanded after it has dried overnight using 0000 steel wool.

That sounds good to me. Although filling pores this way usually does take more than one coat. Its a slower way to go but its nice to be able to work it into the process.

2. 1-2 coats of Bulls Eye Amber shellac. Now i know most will recommend using only dewaxed shellac; however, i saw a video Marc where tried this and has not had any problems with regular shellac (not dewaxed) over oil finish. the reason i want to use the shellac and (not dewaxed) is i really like the color the amber adds to the walnut but the amber is not dewaxed. Should I cut this? I think out of the can the Bulls Eys is approx 2# cut. Based on the next step does this need to be cut down?

A few things. First, you can get amber shellec dewaxed. But you'll need to mix it yourself. So if you pick up some dewaxed shellac flakes, you can mix them with the proper amount of alcohol to get whatever cut you like. Also I should point out that even though I put that video out raising the question about waxed shellac and poly, I don't necessarily advocate doing it. Why take the chance? Especially when this is a family table and dewaxed shellac is so accessible. If you are going to topcoat with shellac, I totally agree with Rob in that you don't need more than one or two coats of danish oil to get the color effect you're looking for.

3. I would like to add a few coats of Poly for protection. Is this necessary? I have read that Watco is a mixture of oils and varnish so perhaps the protection is adequate w/o the poly. I am not looking for a thick film just lasting protection from three hulligan kids. Also any adhesion problems after oil and shellac?

If you want more protection, this could be a necessary step. But if you want a more repairable finish, you might just go with the shellac. Overall though, I'd say you can probably simplify things all around. Many times, folks will go through the process of applying numerous coats of Danish oil taking several days to a week to get the finish they want. And the end result is a finish they could have achieved with two coats of a wiping varnish. I'd suggest making a couple test boards and seeing if you can really tell the difference between a board with two coats of danish oil followed by a coat of varnish, and a second board coating with the varnish only. Both being oil-based products, the ambering effect is very similar and especially in walnut, I am hard-pressed to notice a difference.

So one alternative finish schedule that is much simpler and could yield similar results is to put on a light coat of dewaxed amber shellac, followed by 2-3 coats of wiping varnish. The finish will be beautiful, durable, and you'll be done in two days.

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This has nothing to do with finishing, and I'm not quite sure what I'm seeing in the picture, but it has been bugging me all morning.

Is that a breadboard end in the foreground of the picture? If so, is it attached rigidly to the main part of the table? Are you going to have wood movement problems similar to the ones we talked about in this thread? If so, it might be a good idea to fix it before you apply the finish.

-- Russ

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Thanks for all the replies. I will sample a few pieces as suggested and see the difference; however, Marc if i skip the danish oil step i will have open pores right? Russ the breadboard ends are not attached but only placed on top of the table. I have been advised (this forum) about the expansion and how to attach them. Thanks for looking out.

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Russ the breadboard ends are not attached but only placed on top of the table. I have been advised (this forum) about the expansion and how to attach them. Thanks for looking out.

Super! I couldn't really tell what was going on from the photo. I figured it would be better to rock the boat a little bit than to have a bunch of splits in that pretty walnut.

-- Russ

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UPDATE

I decided against using the poly. Currently i have added three coats of danish oil (see attached pic) post-6284-0-42883800-1329166522_thumb.jp and i intend on letting this cure (72 hours) then a couple layers of shellac. The color is perfect so hopefully the shellac will not darken it. I may not use the amber shellac after all. While i like the look now, i think i need a little more protection than simply oil. The orig Waterlox cannot be shipped to VA only the VOC so i decided against it.

I did learn a valuable lesson on the first coat of oil. I wiped it very lightly against the grain after ten minutes because i didnt want to remove the slurry that was filling the pores. The following day i had to scrub (st wool) the dull spots out where the oil dried. I could clearly see the lines crossing the grain where the oil dried. It took me approx 45 minutes per board of sanding to remove it.

thanks agains for your responses and if you have alternate suggestions to my intentions please post em.

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Beautiful table! Looks awesome.

Two things:

1) Be wary of shellac on a tabletop because it dissolves in alcohol - so if anyone spills an adult beverage, you could have a problem. I've no idea how practical that advice is - it's not something I've had experience with, just know about. (i.e. will the shellac really dissolve faster than you can clean up the spill?) -- just be aware it's a possibility.

2) Shellac will most likely add color, especially amber - but since the table is already dark (walnut) - not sure if it'll matter much. If possible, test a piece (obviously if you can). Going with blonde or super blonde will darken it less than amber.

Love the walnut.

Oh - and you may have been able to avoid the dried oil by wiping each hour (or so) after the initial coat. The oil will continue to "leak out" of the wood, especially open-pored walnut, for quite awhile. When I put on my first coat, I wipe off all the excess (as you did) - and then check every hour or so and re-wipe -- until there's pretty much nothing coming off. You still end up with some dried spots, but not nearly as much.

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  • 3 years later...

IMG_20151120_125146700.thumb.jpg.875959aScreenshot_2015-11-20-12-55-19.thumb.png

 

"After sanding down to 240 grit, 3-4 coats of watco danish oil with 400 grit wet/dry sand paper during initial coat. ( I have read this paste will fill the pores nicely) Subsequent coats will only be sanded after it has dried overnight using 0000 steel wool."

Hi Everyone, 

This is my first post. 

I am refinishing a walnut veneer sideboard. I know, I know....  I am brave. Wish it was solid, but it was perfect size and proportions and cheap, so I took the leap. I have sanded off the very dark and thick layer of stain, and the wood grain underneath is pleasantly pretty, I think. The stain was so thick and dark it just looks drab and brown. Although it is vintage, it really dates the piece, not in a good way.  This is one of my first refinishing projects, btw.  

I really like the look of the end product of the solid walnut table in this original post- it is more of what I am going for- a natural looking finish that does not camo the grain so much and looks exotic. The inspiration photo above what I am trying to vaguely achieve, although I am not attached to the dark color of the wood. I like the idea of using an oil and keeping the process straight forward. So far, all the finishing lingo is overwhelming.  I would like the wood to be lighter and showcase the grain more than the existing dark veneer does. Does anyone agree that sanding this piece is a good choice?  (What I have done so far is just the back of one cabinet, so I do not have to keep going if I decide not to mess with the veneer.)  So far, sanding the veneer has not shown severe signs of thinning way too much or sanding through.  Seems pretty solid. I have only done one round of sanding with the roughest paper to get the finish off.  I am not sure if I should sand the sides of each cabinet too, in fear that I will disrupt the binding of the veneer. 
 
 
Can someone shed some light on the details of step one of the original question in this post?  I don't understand the part about the first coat of danish oil, using with wet dry sandpaper, then using a paste to fill.  Is this necessary for my project, or after sanding down to the finest paper, can I just wipe the oil on?  What is the best danish oil to use for my situation?
 
Thanks for any help.  I am a beginner and really want this piece to turn out. 
 
I have attached a picture of the piece and the inspiration piece.  The cabinet fronts are the only thing i am concerned with here, as I am painting the top and sides white.
 
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