Finish for art desk

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Forum topic by rsax0484 posted 12-18-2016 04:23 PM 350 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 673 days

12-18-2016 04:23 PM

This is my first time posting, so apologies if I’m asking about something already beaten to death.

I’m building an art desk for my sister – the base is cherry, the top and drawer faces are a really nice tiger maple (2/3 of the top will tilt up like a drafting table). I want it to end up looking like a beautiful piece of high-end furniture, but at the same time the top needs to be able to hold up against paint spills and who knows what else when she’s working on her projects.

Here’s my current thought on the finish. I’m going to pop the tiger maple figure with a little trans-tint (mixed with SealCoat), then sand back (saw this technique on The Wood Whisperer site). Then a couple coats of Watco Danish Oil, mainly because it’s easy to apply and I’ve liked how it looks on other projects. Then after the Watco is definitely cured, a bunch of thin coats of a water-based poly for protection.

Overall I think it’s a pretty solid approach, but I’ve put a TON of time into building this sucker, so I really want to make sure I’m doing it justice with a really nice finish that’s still functional. The other option I was considering is shellac. I haven’t done any tests yet, but I think that might do a nice job of bringing out the maple figure . . . maybe better than the danish oil. If I went that route, would I have to use a de-waxed shellac like SealCoat, then the water-based poly? Or regular shellac, then some SealCoat, then the poly?

Finishing always sort of makes my head spin – seems there are endless options and recipe combinations, but always so may pros/cons to consider. Really appreciate any feedback.

3 replies so far

View wuddoc's profile


315 posts in 3867 days

#1 posted 12-19-2016 07:04 AM

You have a plan but may want to go a step further prior to finishing your sisters table top. Finish a throw away panel of an inexpensive wood product per your plan meanwhile listing the solvents found in your sisters paint and “who knows what else”. Apply paints or solvents and other stuff to various parts of the panel to see if the finish is lifted.

I have made panels and taped off numbered squares with blue or green painters tape. Then kept a record as to what was placed on the finished numbered square.

-- Wuddoc

View dhazelton's profile


2789 posts in 2445 days

#2 posted 12-19-2016 02:19 PM

As a former graphic designer I can tell you not to worry about it as it will get covered. Most folks who do work with paint or ink or x-acto knives put a sheet of self healing rubber membrane from the art supply store on or a large sheet of illustration board.

View rsax0484's profile


2 posts in 673 days

#3 posted 12-19-2016 08:43 PM

Wuddoc that’s a great suggestion, thank you. I’m going to do it for sure.

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