Finish ideas for soft wood cross cut slab

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Forum topic by watermark posted 03-28-2013 07:03 AM 4715 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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483 posts in 1967 days

03-28-2013 07:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing

I am at the home stretch on this coffee table the legs are Ohia and the slab is Albizia which is a very soft wood. I would like to know if there are any finishing techniques to help protect softer woods against damage of general wear and tear.

Any ideas are appreciated.

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

9 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29386 posts in 2362 days

#1 posted 03-28-2013 09:36 AM

I like tung oil. It should soak in and make the surface much more solid.

Good looking piece

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2078 days

#2 posted 03-28-2013 01:19 PM

no ideas, but that is a sweet table.

-- Joel

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3183 days

#3 posted 03-28-2013 02:37 PM

Beautiful table. It’s perhaps ironic that your site name is “watermark,” because that’s generally the issue with coffee table finishes. Two lines of thought…either use a hard film finish like poly or lacquer to provide protection against liquid moisture, or use no protection other than an oil. The former is typically the best way to protect such pieces while the latter maintains a tactile feel with the table and must be replenished on occasion. I like oil and wax finishes for this reason.

Being a soft wood that I am unfamiliar with, I am unsure how an oil will react with it (blotching?) so my inclination is to use go with a good film finish. Such finishes are imperfect with soft woods, as there’s no guarantee that they’ll stop lots of rough handling…it’ll be resistant to key-ring or child’s toy scratches but certainly not a ding caused by a dropped TV remote. From that standpoint, with enough dings, it’ll start looking worse and could need to be refinished sooner than you’d like.

My $.02.

-- jay,

View Swyftfeet's profile


170 posts in 2195 days

#4 posted 03-28-2013 04:27 PM

There are wood hardeners out there. Minwax makes one, I would use a test piece.

-- Brian

View watermark's profile


483 posts in 1967 days

#5 posted 03-29-2013 07:14 AM

The Minwax hardener was what I was getting at. I haven’t found much online other then people with the question I have and will it make a good piece of soft would stand the test of time better. I am making the piece to sell so I guess I will just poly finish it and let the buyer know it’s soft wood.

Thanks for the input

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

View Sergio's profile


470 posts in 2716 days

#6 posted 03-29-2013 12:13 PM

I agree with Monte. Tunge oil with first applications well diluted, and some 5-6 total applications forms a net of polimer that hardens the wood. Takes ages to completely dry-out

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View Woodknack's profile (online now)


11775 posts in 2404 days

#7 posted 03-29-2013 05:23 PM

I’m very skeptical about oil as wood hardener. It might be better than nothing but that isn’t the same as being a good hardener. And while I love oil and wax finishes, they are a bad idea for coffee tables. Awhile back someone posted a tip about thinning epoxy to use as a stabilizer, I want to try it one of these days. I’ve used CA glue to stabilize/harden punky wood and it works well but obviously would be too expensive for a tabletop.

-- Rick M,

View yabbadabbadoo's profile


2 posts in 1834 days

#8 posted 06-12-2013 01:33 PM

I have done a lot with oil, wax, marine varnish and West System.
My suggestion would be to go with an oil/wax on the legs and varnish or west system the top. West system would be expensive and you have to watch the dripping on vertical surfaces so it would be a bit of a challenge but it is forgiving too. A few years ago Wooden boat magazine did a great article on varnishing if you’re interested. Best to do a number of coats and start out thinning about 50% and thin less with each additional coat. Thinning allows it to soak in and creats a nice hard surface. The more coats the better. I would suggest 5 coats. You can actually wetsand final coats and buff to a high gloss like a mirror. A friend of mine with a body shop taught me that little trick. If it get messed up over time you just add a coat or two over th old finish.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2385 days

#9 posted 06-12-2013 05:14 PM

Solvent lacquer if you can spray; otherwise, waterborne polyurethane floor finish.

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

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