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Finishing a Black Walnut Kitchen Table

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Forum topic by JerseyJoe posted 10-03-2016 01:48 PM 396 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JerseyJoe

43 posts in 3018 days


10-03-2016 01:48 PM

Topic tags/keywords: black walnut table kitchen table finish walnut question finishing traditional

Hi Everyone,

I just finishing up a Black Walnut Kitchen Table, and I could use your advice on applying a finish.

I want to keep the natural look of the wood, so I was just going to sand to 150 (should I go to 220 or higher?) then use minwax clear ploy for 4 coats then 2 coats of satin.

I never finished walnut before so here are my questions:

1. Do I need to sand greater then 150 – maybe to 220?
2. Can I go direct to Ploy or do I have to go with a sanding sealer first?
3. I want the grain to pop that is why I’m going with clear then satin. Any other suggestions?
4. is six coats enough, I use wipe on , any other suggestions?
5. Is Poly the best sealer for a kitchen table that will get years of use?
6. I have a nail hole in the top that I want to keep, how do I fill the hole so it will be visible but then I can seal over top of it?

Any suggestion on other techniques would be appreciate.

Thanks
Joe

-- Joe Massanova, Somerdale, NJ


12 replies so far

View UncannyValleyWoods's profile

UncannyValleyWoods

441 posts in 1325 days


#1 posted 10-03-2016 02:08 PM

Since it’s Walnut (and this is just my opinion) I would sand to 220, then apply a poly-oil mix. I like to use the Sam Maloof blend that Rockler sells. It keeps the wood looking natural, makes the surface hard, but doesn’t make the piece look as though it is coated with anything at all. It’s wonderful stuff and I’ve used it on many tables in the past.

-- https://www.etsy.com/shop/UncannyValleyWoods?ref=hdr_shop_menu

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

289 posts in 209 days


#2 posted 10-03-2016 02:25 PM

Yup, use something with Tung or BLO in it, to pop the grain. Let that dry and then go with the final finish. For that ‘oil containing’ mixture, I’d use Minwax Antique Oil or Watco Danish Oil (since I have both), or something similar, or blend up your own mixture. Be very sure that first material is completely dry before adding coats of the final finish.

I’ve been meaning to try the Sam Maloof blend. I assume that it contains an oil to pop the grain. Sounds like good stuff. One thing to consider is that the blends won’t normally seal against moisture, which makes them less than perfect for some table tops.

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Lazyman

687 posts in 848 days


#3 posted 10-03-2016 02:32 PM

That is some beautiful wood and a nice build.

In my opinion, the Minwax poly will not yield the natural look you want. Poly finishes tend to look like they are coated in plastic. If you want the protection of the poly but a more natural look, the wiping poly is better than the regular kind. I think that wiping poly is basically a poly diluted with linseed oil and paint thinner that builds the protective finish more slowly so yields a less plastic look. For a really nice finish that looks the most natural, a Danish oil finish will give you the best look but with a little less protection than a poly. I really like Tried and True’s various oil based finishes. They still harden somewhat to protect the wood but it still looks like natural wood when you are done. For a little more protection, their varnish oil is nice. Amazing stuff. Watco Danish oil is another option. I think that it actually has some some varnishes that will give you some protection and really brings out the color in the walnut. To add a little more protection from water, you can apply a paste wax periodically. I made a step stool for my daughter about 25 years ago that I finished with Watco and I simply apply a coat of wax every few years to keep it looking nice. It is oak, not walnut, but if you consider that we stand on it and has held up all these years, it should be fine on a table top.

I would sand to 220 grit. If you find that you have some rough areas that sand paper doesn’t fix a card scrapper can help. With a properly sharpened scrapper, you can get a sheen on the unfinished walnut even without sanding.
I have never used a sanding sealer so I don’t think that is necessary?
I personally would not go with a poly high gloss finish because it will look more like plastic than a satin ( but I still prefer an oil finish overall)
If you do go with the wiping poly, I would think 4-6 coats is about right. Don’t forget the light sanding between coats.
A close up picture and size of the hole you want to fill might help get recommendations on the best way to fill it. One option is to leave it unfilled and just let it add character but that might not be the kind of character that you want.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View rwyoung's profile

rwyoung

388 posts in 2933 days


#4 posted 10-03-2016 02:40 PM



Hi Everyone,

I just finishing up a Black Walnut Kitchen Table, and I could use your advice on applying a finish.

I want to keep the natural look of the wood, so I was just going to sand to 150 (should I go to 220 or higher?) then use minwax clear ploy for 4 coats then 2 coats of satin.

I never finished walnut before so here are my questions:

1. Do I need to sand greater then 150 – maybe to 220? p150 or p180 is sufficient, consider that you may need to scuff scan between coats of finish depending on finish type so having around some p320 or p400 would be good. The final coat can be hit with a folded brown paper bag to remove the last dust nibs.
2. Can I go direct to Ploy or do I have to go with a sanding sealer first? nearly all finishes are self sealing, but some do benefit from the use of a sealer, which can often be made from the finish by diluting it with its recommended thinner
3. I want the grain to pop that is why I m going with clear then satin. Any other suggestions? The grain will “pop” through the use of an oil based varnish anyway, don’t make more work for yourself
4. is six coats enough, I use wipe on , any other suggestions? Plenty, legs can probably go with 4-6, top 6-8
5. Is Poly the best sealer for a kitchen table that will get years of use? Not really, but it is decent enough if you take care of it. Use coasters, placemats and trivets under hot stuff, clean the table with a damp rag, no strong chemicals.
6. I have a nail hole in the top that I want to keep, how do I fill the hole so it will be visible but then I can seal over top of it? epoxy, leave clear or mix in some pigments


-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View JerseyJoe's profile

JerseyJoe

43 posts in 3018 days


#5 posted 10-04-2016 01:19 AM

Thank you everyone, This is a great site for Woodworkers, and what a great group of folks that take the time to respond so quickly to anyone’s questions. I really appreciate your feedback and guidance.

I started my quest to get the right finish for this project. I started by testing Sam Maloof’s Ploy/Oil Finish. I sanded up to 400 G then burnished as instructed with 0000 steel wool. The attached picture is only one coat, and the grain is popping like I wanted. However, I have to tell you that there is a lot of information and opinions on this subject. I have been scanning the web all day, and as you can guess everyone has their opinions, which is wonderful and a little confusing.

One thing I read about Sam’s finish is that it might not hold up on glass stains. Folks that made that claim suggested using Arm-R-Seal which is by General Finishes. Has anyone used ARM? If so how are the results?

Still trying out all of the other suggestions.

Again I appreciate the feedback and guidance.

Joe

PS, Lazyman, I attached a picture of the hole, which I want to keep visible.

-- Joe Massanova, Somerdale, NJ

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

289 posts in 209 days


#6 posted 10-04-2016 01:54 AM

The hole is black, so I’d use some black wood putty I have to fill the hole. Anything else won’t match.

View JerseyJoe's profile

JerseyJoe

43 posts in 3018 days


#7 posted 10-04-2016 01:58 AM

Thanks Kirk, I’m thinking I would like to fill it with a clear epoxy so the hole is still visible.

Joe

-- Joe Massanova, Somerdale, NJ

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

687 posts in 848 days


#8 posted 10-04-2016 03:31 AM

If you fill the hole with epoxy, you might want to mask off the wood around the hole beforehand to keep the epoxy from soaking into the surrounding wood. This will help prevent the epoxy from affecting the absorption of the finish. You’ll also want to put some tape on the bottom if the hole goes all the way through so it doesn’t just run out. I also recommend using epoxy with at least 10 minute set time—30 minutes is even better. This provides more time for air bubbles to escape so they don’t get trapped in the epoxy. A hair drier or small torch can help get the surface bubbles out before it sets. I filled a small hole with 5 minute epoxy once and an air bubble formed at the last minute and I had to ream it out and do it again. One thing to experiment with is sanding the epoxy smooth after it cures. Final cure can take a while and you may have to sand to 600 or even 800 to get a smooth surface on the epoxy. Might even help to wet sand with tung oil with highest grit. A scraper might be even better than sand paper, though I have not tried that on epoxy.

General finishes are all supposed to be top rate. I haven’t use arm r seal but I think it is just another wiping polyurethane formulation just like the Sam Malofof and Minwax wiping finish. They may all have different proportions but generally, they are usually some proportion of poluerethane, tung or linseed oil and a thinner like mineral spirits. To get better water protection you just apply more coats until the pores are all filled. You can also apply a wax or wax/oil over the wiping poly when you are done for even better water repellency.

Another thing that I don’t like about poly finishes is that to repair the finish later, you have to thoroughly strip the old finish off but with a true polymerized Danish oil like the Tried and True brand finish, you can lightly sand and refresh the finish years later. I have a table that I finished 20+ years ago with poly that held up very well but someone put a piece of scotch tape on it and it pealed the poly right off. Only way to fix it is to strip it down to bare wood first.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View scribble's profile

scribble

113 posts in 1661 days


#9 posted 10-04-2016 12:34 PM

I have used Arm-R-Seal on all my projects due to is ease of application and clean up as well as the resistance to abuse. I refinished our old kitchen table about 2 years ago and have a 2 & 4 year olds that don’t treat the table nicely and have had no problems with the finish on it. I only applied 3 coats as I was getting the look from the SF regarding when the table was coming back into usage. I applied this same poly to the kids dressers that I refinished as well as a pine/oak dog kennel I built.
I have never tried any of the other finished people recommend but will in the future for other projects. I do use wipe-on poly for shop jigs and shop built items to protect them.

-- If you can't read it Scribble wrote it!! “Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes.”

View sawdustdad's profile

sawdustdad

131 posts in 346 days


#10 posted 10-04-2016 01:10 PM

A kitchen table usually takes a lot of abuse, especially with a family. There are some items where you can live with a fragile finish but a kitchen table isn’t one of them, IMO.

Personally, (and especially if this is for someone else) I’d apply a few coats of wipe on poly, followed by a couple/five/six coats of regular poly, sanding between coats, until I got a smooth finish. True, you won’t have that bare wood look and feel that you might get from an oil finish, but you also won’t ruin the finish with a wet glass left on the table.

I have a pair of walnut Pembroke end tables in my family room, They get glasses set on them all the time. A robust poly finish prevents any damage. They still look great after 15 years of use.

-- Murphy's Carpentry Corollary #3: Any board cut to length has a 50% probability of being too short.

View UncannyValleyWoods's profile

UncannyValleyWoods

441 posts in 1325 days


#11 posted 10-04-2016 02:34 PM


One thing I read about Sam s finish is that it might not hold up on glass stains.

I’ve heard this too, but this has not been my experience. I typically put up to three coats of the Maloof on and allow a full 24 between coats. I also finish the piece with a coat or two of the poly-wax blend. And even though I have created ring marks on some of the tables I’ve finished this way, the marks were in no way permanent. I’ve found that with a damp cloth they can be taken up easily. I finished a coffee table this way just before our son was born, and I’m here to tell you that this finish completely holds up under toddler abuse. I’ve seen him just wail on the thing with wooden blocks, cover it in yogurt, spill milk all over it, and in the end, everything wipes up and he’s never left a permanent ding in the surface.

-- https://www.etsy.com/shop/UncannyValleyWoods?ref=hdr_shop_menu

View JerseyJoe's profile

JerseyJoe

43 posts in 3018 days


#12 posted 10-05-2016 01:55 AM

I really appreciate the input from everyone.. I will send pictures once I’m done with the piece. In the meantime here is a country table I just finished for one of my other daughters..

Thanks Joe

-- Joe Massanova, Somerdale, NJ

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