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What's a good finish for a coffee table?

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Forum topic by Tom posted 01-01-2018 04:48 PM 775 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tom

175 posts in 1061 days


01-01-2018 04:48 PM

My next project is going to be a walnut slab coffee table and I’m trying to figure out what to finish it with. I’d like a satin look finish and see several products out there.

General seems to rate well, be easy to use, and looks good.

Minwax—easy to get at big box store. I’ve used their products in the past and they work..but never really got the look I was going for.

One other thing I’ve saw is boiled linseed oil mixed with poly; haven’t tried that but I’m wiling to experiment and learn something new.

Any opinions?


22 replies so far

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Fred Hargis

4987 posts in 2494 days


#1 posted 01-01-2018 04:58 PM

My choice would be a light coat of BLO for color, let it dry and coat with a very good quality varnish (to me, that means nothing from Minwax). If you don’t want to use an oil based product, let the BLO cure several days and apply a good quality waterborne, like one of the GF offerings. This would give you a very durable finish, which is important to me since I treat coffee tables quite roughly. Should you not want to use BLO for color, a coat of garnet shellac is also very nice on walnut, followed by the topcoat of your choice.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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Tom

175 posts in 1061 days


#2 posted 01-01-2018 05:01 PM

Here comes a “dumb” question:

What is BLO? I’m guessing the “O” is oil but not sure about the rest. I’m currently doing a shelf, it’s got 2 coats of Danish Oil on it (and is drying) before I put a final coat of something (maybe Shellac) on it.

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a1Jim

117095 posts in 3577 days


#3 posted 01-01-2018 05:07 PM

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Rich

2826 posts in 590 days


#4 posted 01-01-2018 05:22 PM


These are both very durable finishes one is oil base the other water base

https://www.amazon.com/General-Finishes-ASQT-Arm-R-Seal-Urethane/dp/B00ANLI2HY/ref=sr_1_2?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1514826250&sr=1-2&keywords=General+Finishes+oil+finish

- a1Jim

+1 on Arm-R-Seal. You get the luster of oil and the durability of urethane. They have a satin version. I prefer to wipe or spray, depending on the size of the piece, wait the recommended 24 hours, and wet sand with progressively finer grit sandpaper between coats. If the weather is warm, you can sneak on a second coat after a couple of hours, but wait to do the sanding.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Ripper70

995 posts in 909 days


#5 posted 01-01-2018 05:38 PM

I’ve used the Varathane Poly with good results.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

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HorizontalMike

7757 posts in 2914 days


#6 posted 01-01-2018 06:24 PM

I used Shellac on my cobler’s bench/coffee table. It is reasonably durable, but the best thing is that shellac is very easy to reapply/fix when minor scratches occur or your favorite ETOH spills. Minor scratches can be blended in with a little alcohol and shellac on a damp cloth.

Bottom line is that the other finishes listed above are more durable, but they are also harder to repair/refinish when scratched/chipped.

Just a thought…

My cobler’s bench:
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/90000

My 7-drawer chest:
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/78752

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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Tom

175 posts in 1061 days


#7 posted 01-01-2018 06:43 PM

I’ve used Minwax and I’m not super impressed even after I learned that I needed to sand/steel wool between coats.

On the shelf I’m making I’ll give Shellac a try once the Danish Oil dries…going to give it a week since the weather is cooler now. As for the coffee table; that I’ll either do BLO/Shellac or just the General satin finish. Good thing it has an underside I can test on.

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a1Jim

117095 posts in 3577 days


#8 posted 01-01-2018 07:10 PM

Tom
Most Minwax products I agree with you in that I don’t think their very good products but their Polycrilc water base I’ve used for years, it’s very tough easy to apply and you can recoat in 2 hours. plus it has fewer fumes that oil-based products and is not flammable.
Shellac is a great product It has many great qualities, such as use as a sealer to help prevent blotch also it’s great for sealing off old finishes, you can apply any finish over it and as Mike said it’s easily repaired , but it’s not as tough as the two finishes I have links for and its water protection is not good.
Blo is an old-fashioned finish that lots of people seem to like, but I just don’t like waiting for days or weeks for it to dry like your danish oil might take.
If you want some great finishing advice check out Charles Neil on youtube or his website he is an expert woodworker and the go-to person for finishing.

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos wood crafting & woodworking classes

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EarlS

1038 posts in 2348 days


#9 posted 01-01-2018 08:30 PM

Arm-R-Coat provides a lustrous, and durable finish. It is my go-to finish for anything that will see a lot of use.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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jbay

2289 posts in 899 days


#10 posted 01-01-2018 08:33 PM



What s up with the massive images these days of things everyone already is familiar with? Since when are plain words not good enough? The same thing is happening all over, not just on LJ. On Facebook, it s no longer enough to express something in ordinary text, it has to be emblazoned in a giant color meme with 72 pt font.

Things like:

I have fluorescent lights in my shop.

I like to use hammers.

- Rich


Excellent Point

After spraying pre-cat lacquers and conversion varnishes I couldn’t bring myself to use anything else.

I agree with a1Jim that the Shellac is not going to give you the protection needed for a coffee table.
I’m not a fan of the Polycrylic either, but don’t really have enough experience with it to say otherwise.

If your spraying finishes already,
there is nothing more to it than spraying anything else.
Pre-cat just thin and spray.
Conversion Varnish, just have to follow the directions for mixing catylist and just mix what you need.

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a1Jim

117095 posts in 3577 days


#11 posted 01-01-2018 08:57 PM

HAPPY NEW YEAR !

-- https://www.artisticwoodstudio.com/videos wood crafting & woodworking classes

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Rich

2826 posts in 590 days


#12 posted 01-01-2018 09:03 PM

LOL, Jim.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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JackDuren

388 posts in 960 days


#13 posted 01-01-2018 09:22 PM

I am awesome….

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bondogaposis

4733 posts in 2352 days


#14 posted 01-01-2018 09:24 PM

If you are going to set alcoholic beverages on it, I would avoid shellac. Alcohol is the solvent for shellac and will dissolve it. For table tops I like oil based poly as it is the most durable finish and table tops due tend to take a lot of wear. I know a lot of people don’t like Minwax and for most of their products I agree, the exception I have found is Wipe on Poly. Other varnishes that I like are Behlens Rock Hard table top varnish and General Finishes Gel Top Coat.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View HorizontalMike's profile (online now)

HorizontalMike

7757 posts in 2914 days


#15 posted 01-01-2018 09:58 PM



If you are going to set alcoholic beverages on it, I would avoid shellac. Alcohol is the solvent for shellac and will dissolve it. For table tops I like oil based poly as it is the most durable finish and table tops due tend to take a lot of wear. I know a lot of people don t like Minwax and for most of their products I agree, the exception I have found is Wipe on Poly. Other varnishes that I like are Behlens Rock Hard table top varnish and General Finishes Gel Top Coat.
- bondogaposis

Bingo! And that is why I made sure to mention that interaction… NOT that I am guilty of such abuse/interaction… ;-)

As for me… I hate finishing stuff, living with it, and THEN having to repair it when “life” happens. In those times I tend to rescind to Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” that have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow as I learned in my post graduate PhD studies at Texas A&M University during the LAST century…

In other words, when “life” happens, I want an easy fix, and a return to nirvana as quickly as possible. Your mileage may vary…

;-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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