Oak shelf advice needed

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Forum topic by TopamaxSurvivor posted 04-21-2010 07:29 PM 1245 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3699 days

04-21-2010 07:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak finish finishing

My wife wants a shelf to set plants on in the kitchen window. I have a piece of oak that will match the cabinets. What is the best way to finish it durably? Wet sand to fill the grain, then lots of poly?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

10 replies so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3845 days

#1 posted 04-21-2010 07:55 PM

That is really a matter of personal taste and how smooth you want the finish to be. I just like a finish to be smooth to the touch rather than perfectly flat.

Getting oak glass smooth takes some work since it has such pronounced grain. After staining, I apply shellac or poly until I get the build I want. I usually choose to celebrate the oak grain by leaving it proud rather than trying to get a piano smooth finish. I would opt for poly in your situation rather than shellac since it will be in contact with water.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View wchips's profile


314 posts in 3111 days

#2 posted 04-21-2010 08:13 PM

I would use poly. I would usr poly for the sealer too. Just delute the poly with 50% or a little more with naptha. I would not worrey about the pores in oak. I know lackuer will not stand up to moisture. Do not know about schallock. If your wife is going to have live flowers in a pot they will need watering ocassionally. there is where your moisture will come in.

-- wchips

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3315 days

#3 posted 04-21-2010 08:18 PM

Poly doesn’t respond well to sunlight, either, which it’s going to get plenty of, being in a window.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3224 days

#4 posted 04-21-2010 08:36 PM

Hey Topa, my suggestion would be to top coat with a good spar varnish. Anything in the sun last for only a short period anyway. Spar varnish will definitely be easier to work with when it comes time to redo than a poly or an epoxy. You can even to to your local boat shop, they now have UV inhibitors in spar varnish to slow the break down of the finish.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3358 days

#5 posted 04-21-2010 08:37 PM

Three coats of Poly with an ultraviolet filter and lightly sanded between coats should do the trick Bob. Poly formulated for boats and/or floors should have a sun filter. Like Scott, I prefer the grain as it is, but I also like it smooth to the touch. With lots of direct sunlight you might have to refinish it sometime in the future, but that should take quite a while.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3699 days

#6 posted 04-21-2010 11:57 PM

Thanks for the responses. I forgot to mention it is a north window so sun will not hit it. Water is the issue, they will be live plants. I guess there is really no need to wet sand it. I got that idea form other posts on here.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View bladeburner's profile


88 posts in 3110 days

#7 posted 04-22-2010 03:02 PM

I use glass on the plant stand tops I build for my wife.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3504 days

#8 posted 04-22-2010 03:22 PM

I agree with bladeburner. The glass on top would be nice. Just do a couple coats of poly, then put a piece of glass on it. You could even go one step farther and inlay the glass into the wood.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3699 days

#9 posted 04-22-2010 07:30 PM

It would be an awkward piece of glass to handle, 8 feet long. Good idea, might make it in 1/3s.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View tblank's profile


61 posts in 2993 days

#10 posted 04-24-2010 08:55 PM

You can use two part epoxy thinned out with ether. A friend has done this with many species and I’ve seen test pieces 5 yrs. old in constant outdoors that are still worth saving. You can thin it to any consistency you want. We finished his boat deck, gunnells, and rub rail three years ago and they still look like they did when the finish was applied. This is in an ocean harbor….salt water!

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