Rough Farm Table finish; advice?

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Forum topic by schmiez posted 10-21-2010 03:36 PM 3755 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 2802 days

10-21-2010 03:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing question


Im having a farm table built (apt not conducive to my own project for now) and need some advice on the finish.

Its 9 foot long, and made of reclaimed barn timbers. We arent sure of the type of wood, but it is pretty soft (can dent with fingernail). I’ve tested wax and oil on a few pieces,and the wax seems to provide a little bit more of a shell, but the oil only had two coats, and no sanding in between.

I’m looking for a rougher finish, trying to maintain the seams, grain, and knots in the wood like the links below:

or like the islands from this site:

Trying to avoid poly, but want something that stiffens up the surface a bit. Only fear on the wax is that it will leave rings (or should I not worry about that because of the rough finish)?

Also trying to maintain the color, and most oils seem to darken it a bit.



7 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4245 days

#1 posted 10-21-2010 04:02 PM

You say you are trying to avoid poly, but I would be willing to bet that the table in the first photo you linked has a poly finish. If you want to maintain the color, use the water-based variety.

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

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3101 days

#2 posted 10-21-2010 04:10 PM

Personally, I would use poly, but if you want to avoid that I would suggest you experiment with a spar varnish and/or spar urethane. In this application water resistance is important and the spar finishes are good at that.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View swirt's profile


2785 posts in 2998 days

#3 posted 10-21-2010 04:13 PM

If it weren’t a table I would say dewaxed shellac with a bit of oil mixed in (mineral or BLO) rubbed in. It would alter the color a bit though.

To not alter the color at all and offer protection I’d so go right to waterbased wipe-on poly.

A rough farm table finish is nice, until you have to wipe it down for cleaning…. then all the nooks and crannies trap crumbs and other debris..

-- Galootish log blog,

View schmiez's profile


3 posts in 2802 days

#4 posted 10-25-2010 05:57 PM

Thanks for the advice folks. Sounds like I’ll have to give in to the poly / spar for keeping the crumbs out. Should be able to keep some of the roughness so its not too shiny and appease the other half.

Any suggestions where to get the water-based varnish? I’ve checked a few big box stores, and an ace hardware, but didnt really talk to anyone. My experience is that anyone staffed after 5pm doesnt know crap.

View schmiez's profile


3 posts in 2802 days

#5 posted 10-28-2010 11:07 PM

Sorry for the bump;

Any advice on a good wood filler that can be tinted? We are toying around with the idea of a non-natural tint (aka colored) but need a filler that will accept the tint.

Also, any known gray stains that you prefer? My thought is to try a coat of gray stain, and wipe off immediately so only the grain takes the color. And finish with a water based poly.


View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3171 days

#6 posted 10-29-2010 06:30 PM

As a heads up, that second link flagged a virus warning.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4154 days

#7 posted 10-29-2010 06:57 PM


-- 温故知新

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