Best finish for a walnut table?

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Forum topic by G_Bishop posted 05-11-2010 03:49 AM 7266 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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58 posts in 3012 days

05-11-2010 03:49 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question walnut finishing

I am currently building a rather large table out of walnut. I have searched the internet looking for the best finish for the table. I’d like a glassy durable finish. I am asking you fellow lumberjocks for your thoughts and inputs on what finish I should go with.

-- ---- Jack of all Trades, Master of None ----

8 replies so far

View lobro4's profile


203 posts in 3177 days

#1 posted 05-11-2010 07:18 AM

The most durable topcoat is polyurethane. When you say “glassy” are you looking for a “piano finish?” If that is the case, that takes wood filler, good sanding prep and eventually a top coat that you would later rub out. Flexners book on finishing covers this in great detail. Short of that, use multilpe layers of a gloss poly. Thin the first coat and last coat about 50%. Sand each layer to level it. Good luck!

-- Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!!

View studie's profile


618 posts in 3111 days

#2 posted 05-11-2010 07:34 AM

Lobro is spot on, use a wood pore filler mixed with stain of your choice to fill the open pores of the grain. This may take 2 applications or so but will make for a flat surface which will after many coats of gloss & then wet sanded with #1500 grit followed with rubbing compound & polish will look like a piano. Wait a week or so before the final sanding & polish tho. Good luck & have patience too.

-- $tudie

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58 posts in 3012 days

#3 posted 05-11-2010 11:00 AM

I was considering Tried & True varnish oil. Anyone have experience using it? The “piano finish” is probably what I’m pursuing, but I should only have to use the pore filler for the top right?

-- ---- Jack of all Trades, Master of None ----

View lobro4's profile


203 posts in 3177 days

#4 posted 05-11-2010 11:29 AM

Pore filler wherever you want the glass-smooth finish

-- Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!!

View Chris 's profile


1879 posts in 3956 days

#5 posted 05-11-2010 05:48 PM

I have used the Varnish Oil; unfortunately, while it is a great product, you will not achieve a mirror coat with it. For a table you will want a durable film finish like Poly. Can you get the same effect with Lacquer?

Anyone else want to chime in on that thought?

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 3970 days

#6 posted 05-11-2010 05:56 PM

A catalysed lacquer would be my choice for durability and looks. Not sure if you have spraying capabilities or experience though.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2920 days

#7 posted 05-11-2010 06:05 PM

FWIW there are some epoxy finishes on the market now that would give a glossy finish and high degree of durability.

I’ve never worked with them though, so don’t know any of the ins and outs of how they work.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3752 days

#8 posted 05-12-2010 01:24 AM

Behlens Rock Hard Table Top Finish. Hard, tough. It is a dark phenolic varnish that is hard to scratch but also flexible enough to take the wood expansion/contraction. I have it on a walnut kitchen table I built several years ago and it is holding up excellently. ( It flows on and levels very well using a good quality bristle brush (Purdy white chinese bristle or equivalent).

Don’t buy much more than you need, as it does not store well. (will skin over and gel quickly). This can be greatly slowed down with the use of Bloxygen, etc sprayed into the can to remove any oxygen, but the little bit that will get in it while stirring before decanting will still cause a few problems.

For a super smooth finish, you will definitely need pore filler with the walnut. I prefer the look of the grain, so did not use it.


-- Go

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