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efficiently finishing a table top

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Forum topic by leftcoaster posted 05-02-2016 03:07 PM 363 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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leftcoaster

82 posts in 344 days


05-02-2016 03:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: small space finishing table

I’m making my first tables (two night stands) and am approaching the finishing phase. I have two tops and two shelves, each approximately 18”x21”.

What’s the most space efficient way to hold these during finishing so that I can do multiple coats on each side? I have a bunch of Rockler bench cookies, including those pointy things that reduce the surface area of the cookies. But I have a TINY space that also gets used to store all of my tools (which must be dragged outside to work).

In my imagination there’s some way to put all four pieces on end, like books or plates in a dishrack, on my workbench. I could at most get two tops on the bench if I laid them out flat, but I could get all four if they were upright. I do not have a garage or other space available.

Any advice appreciated.


9 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16244 posts in 3686 days


#1 posted 05-02-2016 03:25 PM

The following solution strikes me as more trouble than it’s worth, and assumes you don’t mind putting a couple of small holes in the underside of your tops, but here goes:

I was thinking if you screwed a couple of L-hooks (see below) to the bottom of your work pieces near the edges, leaving the bottom of the L facing down, you could rig up a 2×4 or something with holes drilled to accept the L-hook. This would essentially create a stand of sorts to hold your pieces upright.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4859 posts in 2281 days


#2 posted 05-02-2016 03:44 PM

A cabinet maker in my hometown used to lean large door and parts against a ledge about 18” high. That seemed to work for him but I actually prefer to finish tops and large parts flat. This helps the finish lay out smoothly, and avoids any runs in the finish. Honestly it makes all the difference to lay them flat.

Painters pyramids (or your bench cookies with finishing cones) work fine. The key to success is the sequence. First set up a flat work surface, such as two sawhorses and a piece of melamine on top. Start by laying the top upside down on the work surface (no painters pyramids at this point). Finish the underside, and flip it right-side-up on painters pyramids. Now finish the edges and top. Waiting to finish the edges helps give you a dry place to put your hands when flipping the panels.

If your work space is small, just finish 1-2 items at a time. If you are able to finish both sides of the workpiece, your project will move along pretty quickly.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View leftcoaster's profile

leftcoaster

82 posts in 344 days


#3 posted 05-02-2016 04:27 PM

Great suggestions, thank you.

How much time between coats, approximately? Trying to decide if I can get one in one in before work and another after.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4859 posts in 2281 days


#4 posted 05-02-2016 04:34 PM

Depends on the finish, solvent, application method, and temperature. When I spray lacquer, I can apply 2-3 coats in a day. I have sprayed poly that took 2 full days between coats.

Generally shellac and lacquer dry very quickly. Oil based poly takes much longer to cure.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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leftcoaster

82 posts in 344 days


#5 posted 05-02-2016 04:36 PM

I am using equal parts BLO, oil based poly, and mineral spirits, wiping it on.

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1837 days


#6 posted 05-02-2016 05:00 PM

When I built my last table, I used the Z-style top fasteners, on the underside, so I pre-drilled all the fastener holes, and then in 4 of them, just put the screw in partially, to act as a stand. As other have mentioned, I finished the underside, and then flipped them over, they stood on the screws while I finished the top.

You could also make a miniature drying rack from scrap wood and pvc, that would let you stack the shelves vertically after you finished them.

If you have something to hang the smaller pieces from (eye hooks in ceiling, or garage door rail, etc), you could hang those while they dry, assuming your topcoat is not applied too thick.

As far as timing, what are you using, and how are you applying it, and how thick? I can wipe on a thin coat of arm-r-seal, or spray a WB finish, and put another coat on in a couple hours. If I’m brushing on poly in thicker coats, the recoat time is going to be longer.

Edit : Your finish sounds somewhat like Arm-R-Seal, although I’m not sure how the particular ingredients compare. If it behaves in a similar way to the Arm-R-Seal, in moderate temps/humidity levels, I can wipe on another coat in about 3 hours. I usually wait until it doesn’t feel tacky anymore, and then give it another hour or so. Super technical, I know.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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leftcoaster

82 posts in 344 days


#7 posted 05-02-2016 05:16 PM

@BinghamtonEd, thanks. These are good ideas!

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leftcoaster

82 posts in 344 days


#8 posted 05-02-2016 05:43 PM

Thinking about this a bit more, it occurs to me that I could make a sort of Jenga structure, with bench cookies and cones on each tier. But that would require a bunch of scrap lumber and would be kind of precarious. Worse, any drip from above would get on a piece below.

I think I’ll use the opportunity to cultivate some patience. :)

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1063 posts in 1457 days


#9 posted 05-02-2016 05:56 PM

Before starting with the oil mix you might find this interesting. I like to use round hangers, similar to the L hook above but bent into a full circle at the non threaded end. Many sizes available. Screw them into the back edge of tops and side or back of shelves. I have some 2×2’s hung from the ceiling, and use pieces of stiff wire coat hangers bent over the 2×2’s with a length hanging down with a hook at the end, and hang the round hanger on the hook. If wiping or brushing, the piece is finished flat on the bench, then hung to dry. The bench is left open to keep working.

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