Smoothing rough-cut lumber

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Forum topic by glatzenator posted 05-18-2012 06:54 PM 17149 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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42 posts in 2767 days

05-18-2012 06:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing

Guys, I am working on building a table top from reclaimed oak and am struggling to figure out how to work towards finishing it. The boards are weathered and abused but not very old, so when you plane off the top surface there is a sharp contrast with the fresh-looking wood underneath. I’d like to preserve as much of the surface as possible, at least on some of the boards, but I’m not sure how to get it smooth enough for poly without too much sanding or planing. It doesn’t need to be that flat, but the existing surface is very “furry.”

Here’s a link with good examples of what I was hoping to achieve… how do they do this? Bead-blasting? Burnishing? Any advice is much appreciated.

5 replies so far

View carguy460's profile


807 posts in 2540 days

#1 posted 05-18-2012 07:02 PM

Fellow LJ bandit571 built a computer desk and it has a rustic feel to it…

He might be able to answer your question.

-- Jason K

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2491 days

#2 posted 05-18-2012 07:10 PM

Don’t plane it. Wire brush it. If it’s not real dirty, but just weathered, use a brass brush. You’re going to poly it?I think I’d go for something like waterlox or armor seal before I’d poly it. Poly is hard to get even in the depressions without overworking it and causing other problems.

Regardless…. what I’ve done on art pieces is get a first coat or even 2 coats of finish on and then hand sand it lightly to de-fuzz it. Then put a couple more coats of finish on it and watch it.

View glatzenator's profile


42 posts in 2767 days

#3 posted 05-18-2012 07:43 PM

Thanks Charlie, I was planning on Poly because that’s what I have leftover from the last project. I’ll look into waterlox.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19018 posts in 2772 days

#4 posted 05-19-2012 12:56 AM

I just hit this with a sander (quick and course) and a couple of coats of BLO.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View bandit571's profile


21795 posts in 2888 days

#5 posted 05-19-2012 01:35 AM

The desk in question:

started out as stock i resawed from old rafters. Some of those legs were a bit ‘rough’ looking, as well. When i work with this stuff, the less i mix “old” and New looks, the better. Unless it is some bread board edges…

I don’t worry about nail holes, or other “defects”. If there isn’t any nails lurking around IN the wood, i’ll go over it with a handplane or two. nails showing? Here comes the beltsander. There is a bench i posted as well, all from old weathered timbers

that I just use a consistant colour side of the wood, for a panel or two

again, I will go for a hand planed look, more than a silky smooth looking piece of “plastic”. You might, also find a few pieces of glass scraps down at the local “window glass shop”. They will throw away some decent, scraper sized chunks. Use these just like a metal card scraper. If it gets a little dull, just cut a new edge. By using this scraper, YOU control how much material gets removed. Get just enough off of the ‘furry stuff” to at least look smooth.

First coat of Poly: Thick as you can brush on. Allow to cure. Come back later with that glass scraper, and knock down the high spots until things are flat ( No shiny spots), scruff sand, and apply the rest of your coats. After the LAST coat is just tacky to a fingertip, grab an old T-shirt, wad it up, and start rubbing the surface….HARD as you can. You are trying to build up heat in the surface, and polish it as well. Rub the whole item down, if you like the mirror shine.

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

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