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Craftsman Coffee Table Finishing Purgatory

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Project by EarlS posted 924 days ago 1799 views 5 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I finally finished the matching Craftsman coffee table and end table I designed for the living room. They are made from cherry with walnut slats. I also tried adding some Craftsman veneer details on the corners with a walnut accent strip on the top. That was easy. All of the joinery is pinned, thru mortise and tenons with some angled cuts on the top pieces for accents. All in all, the design and woodworking portions of the project turned out very well.

I did, however, have no end of problems getting the kind of finish on the coffee table top. The initial finish turned out dull and had lots of orange peel. That’s what I get for putting spray poly on too light. I mananged to sand through in some spots and not in others. Tried again with a brush and poly – no deal – I had antire ocean of fish eyes. Apparently my wife thought she would help by spraying furniture polish directly onto the finish just before I took it out to the shop to fix the finish. That took several tries to get all of the oil out. Then I tried the Sam Maloof finish. A dozen coats of poly and another 6 coats of wax. Looked pretty good until the dog threw his slobbery bone on the top and someone set a hot cup on it and I had stains. Back to the drawing board where I stripped the top completely down and started over with poly wipe gloss and 600 grit Abranet on the ROS. Big mistake!!! The scratch marks showed through and the top looked worse than ever. Another full strip down to raw wood and this time I started with sanding sealer and gloss poly wipe. I only used 800 grit wet paper between the 6 coats of poly wipe. I originally wanted to put 4 coats on but I wiped a bit too thin and a bit to long on the 4th coat so I got streaks. Whew – glad that is over. The end table looks great so I left it alone.

Morale of the story – keep trying until you get it right and you might learn a few things in the process.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"





17 comments so far

View cwdance1's profile

cwdance1

1143 posts in 1855 days


#1 posted 924 days ago

Wonderful design and beautiful craftsmanship.

Doesn’t get any better.

View jeepturner's profile

jeepturner

920 posts in 1388 days


#2 posted 924 days ago

Nice table. The finish thing is always a struggle for me. I have a love hate relationship with table tops. Glad I am not the only one. I hope this finishes the finishing for you on this one.

-- Mel,

View newagewoodworks's profile

newagewoodworks

46 posts in 927 days


#3 posted 924 days ago

That looks great quality work.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1380 posts in 957 days


#4 posted 924 days ago

The high caliber of design and construction in your work deserves an equally high caliber in finishing. I’m guessing that you have a considerable investment in power and hand tools, so why not consider a commensurate investment in finishing equipment? Nmely a compressor and conventional gun. Learning to spray a one part solvent lacquer is easy and brief. The end result is well worth it.

-- Clint Searl.............We deserve what we tolerate

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

2439 posts in 947 days


#5 posted 924 days ago

Beautiful projects and great design. You have serious skills.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View BenR's profile

BenR

247 posts in 1224 days


#6 posted 924 days ago

Earl, I love the arts & craft look in cherry! The inlays and the walnut accents look fantastic too. I’ve been in that finishing purgatory before (*&^%#). Looks great in the end.

View JasonC73's profile

JasonC73

49 posts in 1140 days


#7 posted 924 days ago

This is a beautiful piece of work. No doubt the pain of doing it will pale in comparison to the eons of service it will give your family.

View EarlS's profile

EarlS

150 posts in 944 days


#8 posted 924 days ago

Clint – I have a Fuji HVLP and I use it for “big” projects. This one sort of got a way from me and I wound up putting blinders on. I didn’t want to get the gun out for “just a table top” so I kept going at it with the little stuff. I probably spent 4-5X the time refinishing as I would have if I would have just got it out and done it right. I am thinking about gettting a small finishing gun that I can use in cases like this. Live and learn….

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

111999 posts in 2173 days


#9 posted 924 days ago

a fantastic table beautiful and well built.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Hallmark's profile

Hallmark

432 posts in 1702 days


#10 posted 924 days ago

Really sharp looking combo, great stuff!

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View vipond33's profile

vipond33

1405 posts in 1094 days


#11 posted 924 days ago

A delightful inlay – that makes it for me.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View LukieB's profile

LukieB

921 posts in 926 days


#12 posted 924 days ago

Wow, what a cool piece, that inlay is stunning, and the finish looks like it turned out great in the end. I can relate to your finish saga, it’s a whole ‘nother art isn’t it.

-- Lucas, "Someday woodworks will be my real job, until then, there's this http://www.melbrownfarmsupply.com"

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

14821 posts in 1785 days


#13 posted 924 days ago

Great looking tables, Nice job on the inlay as well.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View dubsaloon's profile

dubsaloon

619 posts in 1390 days


#14 posted 924 days ago

Love the table. Nice grain, an exceptional build. Thank you for sharing.

-- The works of evil people are not the problem. It is the "Good" people standing by and watching not speaking up. Dubsaloon

View sailorjo70's profile

sailorjo70

24 posts in 940 days


#15 posted 924 days ago

beautiful job lots of fine craftmanship gone into it and a fine finish

sailorjo nl. canada

-- george Nl,Canada

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