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What finish to use?

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Forum topic by Navig8r posted 04-24-2011 03:47 AM 1323 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Navig8r

32 posts in 2126 days


04-24-2011 03:47 AM

Hello all,

I am in the process of building a small folding table….. It is a folding frame, with slats for the top.. very simple.
I used scraps I had around… Poplar for the legs / frame, oak, black walnut, maple, and some type of mahogany for the slats.

The table will be used outdoors, and may be left outdoors for some periods.
I don’t know much about many different types of finishes.

What type of finish would be best??

I would like something that is not too difficult to get a nice appearance out of, and would withstand some rain and sun. Something that could be ‘freshened’ easily would be a plus.

I would like to not add color, just bring out the natural beauty of the woods.

I appreciate any advice.. Thanks!!

-- ~ T.J. Hudson Valley, NY. It's all fun & games until somebody loses an eye!


12 replies so far

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 2520 days


#1 posted 04-24-2011 04:27 AM

No finish will outstand outdoor.
It will need to be maintained every couple years.

You said you do not want to add color.

I would use a marine varnish for this particular case.

Z Spar Captain’s Varnish
http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=100&familyName=Z+Spar+Captain%27s+Varnish

Epifanes Gloss Clear Varnish
http://www.jamestowndistributors.com/userportal/show_product.do?pid=92&familyName=Epifanes+Gloss+Clear+Varnish

View Earlextech's profile

Earlextech

1159 posts in 2150 days


#2 posted 04-24-2011 02:39 PM

Spar varnish, sprayed on!

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Navig8r's profile

Navig8r

32 posts in 2126 days


#3 posted 04-24-2011 02:59 PM

I don’t have access to a sprayer.. I have used rattle can Minwax Spar before… Any opinions?

-- ~ T.J. Hudson Valley, NY. It's all fun & games until somebody loses an eye!

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16241 posts in 3678 days


#4 posted 04-24-2011 03:30 PM

I’ve never used that particular product, but I’ve always had good results with Minwax. I’d give it a shot. You definitely want some type of spar varnish for that application.

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

View Jonathan's profile

Jonathan

2608 posts in 2510 days


#5 posted 04-24-2011 04:16 PM

T.J.,

I’ve used the Minwax Spar Varnish in the rattle can before and it works fairly well. For your project, it sounds like you might need a couple of cans, minimum, as you’re probably going to want to apply 4-5-coats, I would think, no matter what product you end up using. Although I have not personally used the 2-products mentioned by Steven H above, Epifanes makes excellent products in general, and the Z Spar Captain’s Varnish should also be a good choice. You should be able to find the Minwax at any big box store or hardware store or paint store. If you end up at a paint store though, I’m sure you can find some other Spar Varnish that may be a better choice than the Minwax, in that it may have more solids so that the finish will build faster and you may need less coats.

Nothing will last indefinitely outdoors, but I’m sure you know that. You can only slow down the weathering effects of mother nature. Depending on your environmental conditions and where the piece is placed, such as direct rain and snow contact and all-day sun, you’ll probably want to refinish it every couple of years.

This is how I would go about refinishing the piece:
Clean it off well, possibly with a vacuum cleaner to remove a good amount of grit and dust so that you’re not grinding that back into the piece, then use mineral spirits or an equivalent cleaner to really clean it off until there is no more dirt or grime on your rag. Let that dry thoroughly. If there’s any mold or mildew, scrape or wipe that off, then hit it with a 10%/90% bleach/water solution and let dry before continuing on with the refinishing process. Then scuff sand if the top coat is still in good shape with 320-grit (or thereabouts). Depending on how much sanding you had to do, you may want to vacuum the piece off again, then hit again with mineral spirits to remove any of the remaining sanding dust. Now reapply multiple coats of the same finish. Also make sure that if the piece has recently received any moisture to let it thoroughly dry out first as you don’t want to be trapping that moisture under the finish. That includes if you had to wipe it down with the bleach/water mixture.

Certainly more than one way to go about the process. That’s just how I would do it.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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Navig8r

32 posts in 2126 days


#6 posted 04-24-2011 05:08 PM

Thanks!! The item is actually a gift, so I will instruct the recipient to keep it inside when not being used, but I was thinking perhaps an oil would be better for easy touch ups, etc…

-- ~ T.J. Hudson Valley, NY. It's all fun & games until somebody loses an eye!

View Jonathan's profile

Jonathan

2608 posts in 2510 days


#7 posted 04-24-2011 05:14 PM

Oil would be easy for touch-ups. The recipient should still clean the item first before reapplying the oil. Numerous oils will work for this, such as Ipe oil, which is frequently used for outdoor decks.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View EPJartisan's profile

EPJartisan

1116 posts in 2585 days


#8 posted 04-25-2011 04:20 PM

Hi, my only worry is about the variety of woods you are using. Poplar is soft , and can absorb a lot of moisture so it moves a lot with changes in heat/cold. Maple is more tight grained and stable, but both are prone to rot and decay and should be treated like Jonathan says above. Mahogany and walnut are open grained woods. the mahogany with interlacing grain and expresses oil … and the walnut with strong open parenchyma and fiber cells. Both need to be sealed quite well. Without knowing the design of the table, keeping it outside for long terms could make it fall apart just from stress in the joinery due to the different wood movements.

For outdoor items, I have had great results with combination woods by using generous coats of West Systems two part epoxy and sanding to the finish I want. Used in boat building and creates a tough surface coating that bonds to the top wood fibers really really well. Wipe down the mahogany with denatured alcohol before applying. The epoxy also works for glueing the joints, and west system offer fillers to add flexibility or durability, but you can also just use fine sawdust. The only draw back to the epoxy is if it is left in the sun for long periods of time (weeks). Even with an ultraviolet protecting, the sun still heats the wood fibers below, expanding them, and can cause crazing in the epoxy finish. Also the wood must be dry or the epoxy can develop strange tiny bubbles and the epoxy is difficult to repair and touch up. Just suggestions.

Good luck and post a picture ~ e

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

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Navig8r

32 posts in 2126 days


#9 posted 04-25-2011 04:31 PM

Thanks for all the advice!! The movement of the different woods will probably not present too much trouble, as all will be mechanically fastened to each other. The slats that make up the top are spaced 1/4” apart, and are screwed to the support in 2 places…This is a small project.. the slats are 24” long by 1 3/4” wide, and there are 10 of them. 8 pieces of poplar make up the frame/legs (3/4” x 1 1/2” x various lengths)
I may actually make the legs/frame out of maple or oak, since I found some scrap laying around the shop that I can use.

-- ~ T.J. Hudson Valley, NY. It's all fun & games until somebody loses an eye!

View Jonathan's profile

Jonathan

2608 posts in 2510 days


#10 posted 04-25-2011 04:42 PM

The epoxy idea, or some other similar sealant would be an especially good idea for the bottom of the legs, or feet, so that they don’t wick up moisture from the ground. It would also be good to treat the top of the legs in the same way, if they are exposed on the top and not tucked under the table.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 2520 days


#11 posted 04-25-2011 05:09 PM

Minwax Helsman does not come close to Marine varnishes I listed above.
The reason I say this because it contains less UV inhibitor compare to those marine varnishes.

View Nate_in_Denver's profile

Nate_in_Denver

5 posts in 2025 days


#12 posted 05-19-2011 12:47 AM

agreed

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