Glass Surface On A Red Oak Table

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Forum topic by PrimeRibAndADew posted 09-06-2012 02:13 PM 3612 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 2085 days

09-06-2012 02:13 PM

Topic tags/keywords: red oak finishing red oak smooth finish

I need some advice in an area I have never been before.
I am building a table with red oak for my church in the new fellowship hall. I want a very smooth, glass like surface. I’ve googled and read a bunch of stuff and much of it says pumice is hard to use and often gives bad results with red oak. I have finished several walnut gun stocks and the technique I use is to use Birchwood Casey Tru Oil Stock Finish which I apply generously, let dry then apply again using 600-800 wet/dry sandpaper to fill the grain. Then I apply 3 more coats and I get a beautiful glass finish. Is this an acceptable technique for red oak or am I going to ruin the beauty of the wood? Oh and I am not using any stain. I like natural wood colors.

I also want the surface to be durable and allow people to put drinks on without fear of damaging the wood. Should I use poly or lacquer topcoat?

-- Life is like a peice of wood, you can complain about the knots or you can make them beautiful.

5 replies so far

View Ripthorn's profile


1458 posts in 2981 days

#1 posted 09-06-2012 02:18 PM

I would go with an epoxy topcoat. That will not only fill the pores, but will be virtually bulletproof. You can get some pour on stuff that should work (though it isn’t particularly cheap). Note that with any pore filling, there will be plenty of sanding. If you don’t want to do that, use an epoxy to fill the pores, sand back, then finish with topcoat of your choice. The method of using tru oil to fill oak on a table sized object will take forever. I personally like Z-Poxy finishing resing for pore filling, but it is not as cheap as the clear epoxy you can get at Lowe’s (be VERY careful about which epoxy you use if you go that route, as standard epoxy dries yellow-ish and will ruin the natural look, make sure it dries CLEAR, don’t ask how I know).

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3476 days

#2 posted 09-06-2012 02:33 PM

Whenever I want a hard and glass smooth finish, I always use polyurethane. Red oak has coarse pores so a pore filler will help, but not necessary if you apply enough coats of finish. Start sanding with a coarse grit, like around 80 grit, then work through each grit, not skipping any, until you get to 600. Then I start coating it with thin coats of poly. Sanding after each coat. It will take 6 or 7 coats, but the surface will be glass smooth.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2967 days

#3 posted 09-06-2012 02:59 PM

Fine dust from final sanding, mixed with shellac, rubbed into surface with burlap rag. 300-400 grit sand when dry then apply finish of choice.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4214 days

#4 posted 09-06-2012 03:33 PM

As you can see, there are many ways to skin the cat.

I like a pore filler called CrystaLac , followed by enough coats of wipe-on polyurethane to get the glassiness I desire.

I have worked with pumice and rottenstone. It takes a little elbow grease, but yields good results. I think automotive polishing compound is a bit easier.

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

View PrimeRibAndADew's profile


3 posts in 2085 days

#5 posted 09-06-2012 06:53 PM

Thanks guys. I’ll get out some red oak scraps and play with the CrystalLac and Z-poxy. See how I like them.

-- Life is like a peice of wood, you can complain about the knots or you can make them beautiful.

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