GLOSS or Satin ? Product selection to refinish a table top.

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Forum topic by katilicous posted 11-15-2013 08:11 PM 6648 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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42 posts in 2370 days

11-15-2013 08:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: refinish table table top finish wipe on poly pour on varnish

This is a Bernhardt table I am refinishing due to bad damage to the finish made by an air freshner.

I originally planned to finish it in the same way it was before the damage which was a thick clear gloss. My customer said the chairs were sold with the table but in my opinion they were a mismatched set because their style and color don’t match. The finish is the only shared component aside from the shade which is obviously 1 or 2 off to me but not noticeable to them. I didn’t bring the differences to their attention because if they are happy right now, I am happy.
My customer stopped by after the first coat of stain went on half the table and fell in love with the table .

He actually had never noticed the starburst pattern on the top veneer and was seeing how beautiful it was for the first time because his wife purchased the table and damaged the finish before they met.

He wants the table to look just like it does with the stain on it but I think the chairs and table will be obviously mismatched if I go with a more subtle finish and I am worried it will affect how durable the table is with a large Italian family that meets often for meals. He left the decision in my hands and doesn’t know much about wood finishes or how the sheen affects the final product.
I am just a beginner in this and haven’t purchased a spray rig yet so I am tossed between using a pour varnish which I am comfortable with and matches the original finish, a wipe on poly because I am a beginner and have had some poor brush experiences way back or something else that I am hoping the lumberjocks community of educated wise members can suggest. I will be done with staining today on both leaves and the main table and live in Southern California where after this weekends’ usual dose of damp(er) weather passes we will be expecting 70 degree days and 46 degree evenings next week which is when I have to finish this table to have it fully cure by Thanksgiving. I plan to heat the garage so it will be warm and dry despite andy wet weather.
Any and all advice, knowledge and comments are very appreciated.

-- If you fall, I'll be there. -Floor

9 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4423 posts in 3708 days

#1 posted 11-15-2013 08:21 PM

Of course it was designed to have a gloss finish – - – one that you would utimately buff with automotive anti swirl remover.

However if there is other damage to it, then I would lean towards satin – - because that will help blend imperfections in the surface.
The gloss will need to be glass smooth, or when the customer looks at it he will see the surface variations.

To get the quality you want, I think you will want to lean toward a catalyzed lacquer – - applied with a spray gun.

Time is getting really short though, for curing.

For this – I would send a PM to CharlesNeil… linking to this. He would be able to nail down for you a solid approach, recommend a material, that gets what you the result you want for your customer on time and with good durability, so they aren’t mad at you later.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

28930 posts in 2303 days

#2 posted 11-15-2013 09:06 PM

We had this discussion before. The tone of the conversation was that women prefer satin finish and men prefer gloss. Don’t know if that helps.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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4423 posts in 3708 days

#3 posted 11-15-2013 10:29 PM

Monte – - that doesn’t fit with blondes women saying oooohhh SHINY!! :^) couldn’t help it – 30 minutes til the weekend!

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View SuperCubber's profile


1022 posts in 2250 days

#4 posted 11-15-2013 10:41 PM

Satin gets my vote.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View katilicous's profile


42 posts in 2370 days

#5 posted 11-15-2013 11:05 PM

I’m afraid its way past the buffing out stage. I stripped off the finish and hand sanded the whole thing so I wouldnt burn through any of the veneer. I applied some great wiping stain so im at the finish stage. I like the automotive finishes and have considered using clear from the local auto paint place it costs a ton but goes on nice. Not sure how durable it is as a table top but theres prob a thread on that. Cat Laquer is beautiful but I dont know how fast I can learn spray. Is it a skill that takes a bit of practice or can I work it out in a weekend?
DrD, I am blonde and have def made the “shiney” comment you mentioned in the tone you seem to be implying. There are no blondes in this family however you have me thinking that they have a pretty shiney home so leaning toward the gloss
My question is should I somewhat bury the awesomeness of this wood in the gloss just to match the chairs that dont match already but the customers dont notice?

-- If you fall, I'll be there. -Floor

View mahdee's profile (online now)


3873 posts in 1733 days

#6 posted 11-15-2013 11:52 PM

You always can use an inlay to make a statement on the damaged area, like a tree, or; DO NOT USE AIR FRESHENER ON THIS TABLE. Just kidding on the last part. I think a poly finish would be gorgeous.


View jeffswildwood's profile (online now)


3051 posts in 1943 days

#7 posted 11-16-2013 12:04 AM

Lately I have had very good results with semi gloss. May consider this. Not as glossy as gloss poly but more then satin. Nice all round shine and forgiving of surface.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View katilicous's profile


42 posts in 2370 days

#8 posted 11-16-2013 03:19 AM

Semi-gloss is nice. Here is what table looks like now after being stripped with one coat on the right and two on the left. headed out to finish stain now.

mrjinx, I did try some freshner and before it did the job I wiped it off bc it stunk so bad my nose burnt.

-- If you fall, I'll be there. -Floor

View katilicous's profile


42 posts in 2370 days

#9 posted 11-18-2013 06:51 PM

I am gonna head to Austin Hardwoods today to pick up the finish. Gloss will match the chair sheen and the original finish so i will pick up a poly gloss. I think they sell every brand there and from searching the forum, it looks like there is no single product people agree on as a miracle table clear.
its funny how the older you get the easier things get as you have experience, better tools and a smaller more accurate toolbox of miracle products.
Thanks to all responder comments, awesome to have the advice of the best woodworkers when approaching a project like this. Happy Monday, hope everyone has a blissful week!

-- If you fall, I'll be there. -Floor

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