Finishing Pine for the first time

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Forum topic by GoPhillies posted 02-03-2012 09:14 PM 4422 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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45 posts in 2091 days

02-03-2012 09:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: pine finish

Hello Jocks…..have a question I was hoping to get answered. I am in the process of making a dining table from pine. I have never worked with pine before and I am worried about finishing it. Here is my plan:
1. sand it to about 150 grit maybe 180 if I don’t get sick of sanding
2. seal it with shellac
3. stain it
4. top coat with a poly since I need durability
I am hoping that the shellac will help even out the stain. Make sense? Anything better to seal it with? Do certain stains work better than others??? Any input would be appreciated. I have extra wood to try out different methods. Thanks.


12 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


15474 posts in 2428 days

#1 posted 02-03-2012 09:27 PM

Your method seems to be spot on. I might stop sanding pine after 150 though if you create too slick of a surface you wont get any penetration. Make sure you are using dewaxed shellac, regular shellac wont dry for about a month.

Im not much help on stains though.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4408 posts in 3382 days

#2 posted 02-03-2012 09:53 PM

Use dewaxed because other finishes might not adhere. The shellac should be a “wash coat” to seal the goofy nature of pine. I will dilute the Zinsser Seal coat with DNA (denatured alcohol-NOT VODKA) 50/50. It comes as a 2# cut. I like to use a 1# for sealing. Stain of your choice (I don’t use MinW__ ‘cause it tends to “muddy” the finish-too much solid content). Poly if ya must.
Beware of sanding ‘cause you can get a wave effect between the grains unless you use a sanding block.
BTW, shellac dries very quickly waxed or not because of the alcohol solvent. (Sorry Chrisstef.)


View ratchet's profile


1389 posts in 3209 days

#3 posted 02-03-2012 10:30 PM

The reason sometimes shellac doesn’t dry (or stays tacky indefinitely) is because its out of date. DAMHIKT. IMO…any shellac older than 1 year (from manufacture) is suspect and should be replaced with fresh stuff. This is why I now exclusively mix up my own from flakes. The one time I didn’t it really cost me.

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2596 days

#4 posted 02-03-2012 11:46 PM

I’d say Bill White has it, spot on.

I’m about to finish a pine table, too, and have been looking into it a bit. I’ll be spraying lacquer, when my HVLP system arrives, but … in terms of a washcoat … yup … he’s got it.

-- -- Neil

View bandit571's profile


14081 posts in 2105 days

#5 posted 02-04-2012 12:02 AM

Take a look at my avatar sometime…...

100 grit sanding, coat of Minwax Ipswich Pine( Yes, I said Minwax) sanding to 150 grit, 1st coat Minwax Poly Gloss, Hand sanded to 220 grit, wiped down with a CLEAN tack rag, second coat poly, wiped down with 0000 steel wool, wiped down with a CLEAN tack rag, third coat Poly. Now the fun begins, I wait until no longer tacky to a finger’s touch, then grab an old, CLEAN T-shirt, and RUB THE “H” out of the surface. Do NOT spare the elbow grease, rub it hard.

Poly is right out of the can, brushed on nice and thin. I also “tip off” each surface as I get done with them. Brush ( DRY one) is held at 90 degrees to the surface, and LIGHTLY dragged across WITH the grain.

Seems to work for me, at least for the last 25+ years or so…

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2344 days

#6 posted 02-04-2012 12:05 AM

I have also used a mixture of drywall joint compound and water to a consistency of milk. I brush it on….sand it off ,then stain. Makes the stain go on evenly. I put two or three coats of this on end grain.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4408 posts in 3382 days

#7 posted 02-04-2012 12:35 AM

Jim, I’ve never thought about DW compound. Sounds like a good grain filler if sealed.
Great tip, and thanks.


View GoPhillies's profile


45 posts in 2091 days

#8 posted 02-04-2012 12:57 AM

Thank you for the input

Bill….you say poly if I must, would you lacquer instead? I don’t have a lot of experience with lacquer, can it stand up to the wear and tear seen by a kitchen table?


View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 1783 days

#9 posted 02-04-2012 03:57 AM

Your schedule is fine except for the shellac….it’s unnecessary.

For a brush-on finish, oil poly is great, but waterborne poly is just as good, and it’s quicker and easier.

If you have access to spray equipment, I recommend a solvent NC or acrylic lacquer over a water soluble dye stain. Can’t be beat.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Viking's profile


878 posts in 2617 days

#10 posted 02-04-2012 04:29 AM


I tried Minwax wood conditioner on a pine “shop furniture” project a few weeks ago right before applying stain. I started staining immediately after the wood conditioner and it made a big difference in the blotchiness you usually see when staining pine. The cabinet was made from 3/4” BC plywood sanded with 100 then 220 grit with a ROS. Would probably been better using 100 then 150 tops if I had to do it again. Applied 3 coats of MW water based Polycrylic gloss next day with 320 sanding between coats and 0000 synthetic steel wool after last coat. Remember this is shop furniture.

MW has two products, one for using with oil base stain and one for water base stain.

Good luck.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7717 posts in 1802 days

#11 posted 02-08-2012 06:48 AM

Save some headache and use dye instead of stain although I’m not sure why you would use pine in the first place if you wanted to stain it.


View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2999 days

#12 posted 02-08-2012 06:55 AM

After sanding to 150 apply Charles Neils blotch control it will really get rid of blotchyness

-- Custom furniture

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