Best Finish for Office Desk and Stool

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Forum topic by Raymond Thomas posted 07-01-2012 01:33 AM 3699 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Raymond Thomas

189 posts in 2459 days

07-01-2012 01:33 AM

Topic tags/keywords: poplar mahognay glass top miter saw plane sanding finishing greek key style standing desk question

I have never built and finished a piece of functional furniture before so I am venturing into new territory. I decided to build a simple frame desk that required no special joints other than wood glue (Titebond III). I chose a design by Armand Sussman, I found in Popular Woodworking (OCT 2000). I modified the design a little to make it a standing desk rather than a traditional sitting desk.

The desk will be made of laminated two layers of 1” poplar with 1” of mahogany between them. The top will be a 1/2” piece of safety glass with rounded edges. The reverse-coordinated stool will be two layers of mahogany with a layer of poplar between. The seat of the stool will be a standard padded shop stool seat with my company logo on it (Bosch).

I need some help with the best way to finish this laminated desk and stool. Any and all suggestions will be appreciated. Once I have started the actual construction I will show photos of the entire process – start to finish.

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

4 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3091 days

#1 posted 07-01-2012 01:11 PM

Nice project, TorqNut.

Finish is a pretty regular topic here, and you’ll get the usual list ranging from varnish out of the can through wiping varnish to boiled linseed oil. Perhaps a shoe polish suggestion will be tossed in the ring.

First, some info: What do you want it to feel like? Woody or plasticy? What do you want it to look like, shiny or satiny?

Do you have spray equipment? Do you have a good, dust-free spot where the piece can sit while it dries?

And then, free at no extra charge, a design suggestion: If you make the middle piece and eighth thinner than the outside it will look better and stronger.

I like the thinking that led to reversing the pattern for the stool, but I have a slight reservation about it: The dark outside pieces against the lighter inside piece will look stronger than the reverse and, emotionally, I’d like the table base to look as strong as possible. So per your plan, the two respective frames may look in conflict. I would ask you to consider making them both the same, in which case, to my eye, the light outside/dark inside will look great. Matched set kind of thing.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View PineChopper's profile


188 posts in 2437 days

#2 posted 07-01-2012 03:29 PM

I’ve posted a similiar topic before.
There are many many different finishes.
So of us will use various oils, stains, varnish, etc.
I’ve just started using Shellca as a sealer (I like the fact that it dries quick) and follow that with 2 coats of Polyurethane. I thin the Poly a little bit with Mineral Spirits.

I’ve tried Boiled Linseed Oil and Watco Danish Oil. I didn’t care that much for either one.
If I were finishing a gunstock, I would probably “hand rub” the Danish Oil for a finish.

View Raymond Thomas's profile

Raymond Thomas

189 posts in 2459 days

#3 posted 07-01-2012 06:53 PM

I like the feel of wood and the more natural the better. I want to preserve the look and color but I also want to hold off the way the wood will change color over time.
I don’t have any spray equipment so everything will have to be done by hand (since I am new to woodworking – I think I want to keep it hands on for a year or two). Controlling the dust is not a big problem since I can close off the garage and not use it for a couple of days at a time while everything sets and dries.
I like the idea of a thinner board for the middle board and will consider that when it is time for assembly.

I have used BLO, water-based polyurethane, and Shellawax friction wax (on the lathe). I like the way BLO makes the wood look but I don’t have the experience to know if I should seal it over with anything and if so, what would work best?

I have not used Shellac yet – what type of shellac do you use or do you make your own? Since I would be hand applying it there an open time limit on the different types?

-- Raymond, Charlotte, NC -------- Demonstrate the difference!

View PineChopper's profile


188 posts in 2437 days

#4 posted 07-02-2012 03:34 PM

I’m just using store bought shellac. Lowe’s or Home Depot, it’s by Ainsser & made in the USA.
Dry time is about 1 hour. It gets pretty hot in the desert where I live so a noon a thin coat might dry in 15 minutes. I haven’t had any problems with the can being open while I’m working.

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