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Steps for finishing oak end table

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Forum topic by ravensrock posted 02-08-2014 05:14 PM 1463 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ravensrock

336 posts in 1104 days


02-08-2014 05:14 PM

Hi everyone,

I’m a long time lurker, fairly recent member and first time poster. I’ve been a weekend woodworker for a few years and although I’ve made some nice projects, I never put a whole lot of thought into the finishing. I usually just use some Minwax stain and polyurethane although have used some Watco Danish Oil recently that I like. I’m nearing the finishing stages of one of my biggest projects so far- an end/display table my brother-in-law asked if I could make for him out of a bunch of oak he got cheap. It’s basically an end table that will have glass sides and top. I’ve been trying to learn the difference between red and white oak since I’m not 100% sure what I’ve got. I’m thinking it’s red oak but it might have some white oak mixed in judging from the lengths of the rays.

I’m looking for ideas on the steps I should take to give this a nice finish. I’ve been researching online and there seems to be a lot of different ideas. Do I need to use a grain filler? Oil-based vs water-based stain? Or since there is an oak plywood shelf should I use a gel stain to help the color be consistent with the hardwood? I’ve never used shellac but it seems many use it between certain steps of the process. He wants the color something close to Early American. Any ideas about the steps you guys have used successfully would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s a picture of my progress so far. Still have to put the top on.

-- Dave, York, PA, WildSide Woodworking


13 replies so far

View mahdee's profile

mahdee

3550 posts in 1229 days


#1 posted 02-08-2014 05:28 PM

Try Watco Teak oil. After the second application, if you want it more glossy, use rob on ploy.

-- earthartandfoods.com

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ravensrock

336 posts in 1104 days


#2 posted 02-09-2014 12:26 AM

Never considered teak oil. I’ll have to look into it. I was also considering a General Finishes stain or gel stain to see how it compares to the Minwax I’ve just always gone with.

-- Dave, York, PA, WildSide Woodworking

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Logan Windram

303 posts in 1923 days


#3 posted 02-13-2014 03:26 PM

Nice work Raven, it always so exciting to get a project done, only to be intimidated by the finishing! But don’t disparity, experiment and learn… That is the way everybody else has done it, even the pros…

There are just so many ways you could go on the finish. If the color you mentioned will be darker, I’d go Oil based Poly and consider doing the wipe on method… Fine Woodworking magazine has an issue with an article by Bob Flexner on the process.. For beginners, it is easy… Cut the Poly with Mineral Spirits, wipe on, wipe off, repeat till you get the build you think looks nice. You almost can’t mess it up, and you will feel like a millions bucks after.

If you want to get more advanced, you could fill the grain and ago for a flat, perfect, amazing finish in the table top. You could build the finish by brushing the top with many coat of oil based poly, the wet sand it flat and rub the top to the sheen you desire I like satin, so I go a gloss poly and rub it to a satin- you find articles on the internet about the wet sand/ rubbing process, it is actually easy yet tedious….. People lose their minds when they see you have done this. You will run your hand over that rubbed out glorious finish and think you can conquer the world…

If you are staining or dying dark, stay away from WB poly, it will wash put the beauty of the wood a little bit. If you plan on keeping the oak light or natural, WB is great and easy to clean up.

I don’t do much in other finishes just because I like the durability and relatively safe use of poly. But i am sure others will give you some good options as well.

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3038 days


#4 posted 02-13-2014 03:42 PM

Ravensrock
When asking about finishing you well get many ideas as to works best,Just as you would if you asked what brand of car to buy,these suggestions are all based on the poster’s experience which may be limited or misguided . I would suggest you shoot Charles Neil a e-mail,he’s a finishing expert of 40 plus years, has a on line finishing class and has just written a book on finishing all of what I whole heartedly endorse. Charles is as nice a guy as you would ever want to contact an he is always glad to get back to you with help.

charles@charlesneilwoodworking.com

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View bowedcurly's profile

bowedcurly

515 posts in 1190 days


#5 posted 02-13-2014 03:52 PM

A1 Jim is right ask CN

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

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ravensrock

336 posts in 1104 days


#6 posted 02-13-2014 11:56 PM

Thanks for the input guys. I will definitely send Charles Neil an email and ask for his thoughts. A1Jim is the book you are referring to called “Finishing- It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over”? It’s the only one I see on Amazon with his name associated with it but it looks like the author is Marc Spagnuolo of Wood Whisperer fame. BLarge thanks for your thoughts. At this point I think I’m leaning toward General Finishes oil-based stain- just not sure if I should go with the gel stain or the regular oil stain. I think I will finish it then with satin Arm-R-Seal. Never used the stuff before but seems to get a lot of praise. Any thoughts regarding the gel stain to give a consistent finish with the plywood and hardwood? I’m still thinking of filling the grain also- maybe just on the top- with Timbermate. It also gets good reviews.

-- Dave, York, PA, WildSide Woodworking

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3038 days


#7 posted 02-14-2014 12:36 AM

Ravensrock
As far as I know Mark learned everything he knows about finishing from Charles:)
Here’s the book Charles wrote it’s also available in a PDF file.
https://charlesneilwoodworking.3dcartstores.com/Charles-Neil-Finishing-Simply-Put-Chemistry-Degree-Not-Required_p_238.html

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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ravensrock

336 posts in 1104 days


#8 posted 02-14-2014 01:17 AM

Thanks for the link. Looks like it’s sold out for a few weeks. I bookmarked the page for now. Hope to be starting to stain next weekend…if I can get these darn miters for the top right! Talk about an exercise in frustration- getting miters tight and corners square! Here’s a pic with the one piece of glass in the top. Thinking about using a different piece of wood for the one board on the top since the grain doesn’t quite match.

-- Dave, York, PA, WildSide Woodworking

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CharlesNeil

1610 posts in 3332 days


#9 posted 02-14-2014 03:56 PM

Sorry Im late to the Party .. Got snowed in for a bit .

I dont see any white oak here, more photos could help .

You CAN grain fill it, if you want a glass smooth finish , but truthfully I like RedOak , unfilled , I like to see the grain and I like how a stain will settle into the deeper grains and show off the grain. Thats just me . To keep it simple , I would simply use some Early American stain , in an oil base (Minwax would work ,Cant believe I said that ) , and go with a good wipe on varnish oil and be done.. Arm R SEal is an excellent choice . Oaks usually do not blotch,. but you will see the Fleks and Rays you mentioned , These are simply harder grains and they typically dont take a stain as well as the surrounding softer grain. If you don’t like this , then you will want to look to a good dye . It’s much stronger , and will color better , but still not as much on the 1/4 sawn rays .
What makes this hard to answer is I dont know exactly what your looking to achieve… Do you want a totally smooth finish, or do you want the grain to show , meaning the deeper grains will not be level with the surface . A gel stain will not change the difference between the plywood and the solid banding enough to make a difference. A dye will, because with a dye you can do an additional coat and get more coloe if needed . On the other hand A good Gel will also help to fill some of the grain. A dye will not show the deeper grain as much as a oil based stain, because it doesnt migrate as much to the deeper grains. Oil based stains dry slower , so they tend to “gather” in the deeper recesses .. Not sure I have answered the question, and hope this makes sense, If you can tell or better yet show me exactly what you want it too look like , I can probably give you more specific detail on how to get there.

As to my book, The PDF version is a down load , The hard copies , we do have some in stock, and more on the way ,If you order one and we are out of stock , its usually only a week before we have more and we ship them ASAP . The book has done quite well and we keep increasing the orders , but it keeps selling .. NOT COMPLAINING … There are worse problems to have

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ravensrock

336 posts in 1104 days


#10 posted 02-14-2014 04:31 PM

Thanks for your response Charles. I’ve been digging out of the snow here too in south central PA. The more I look at information online I’m pretty sure what I have is red oak. My brother-in-law isn’t giving a lot of specifics as to how he wants this to look. But it will go in his TV room that is rustic with some old barn siding on the one wall and older stuff he’s picked up at auctions. He plans to display an old antique bear trap on the shelf of the table. So I don’t think it has to have a totally smooth top. I think I’ll skip filling the grain and just start with stain. I plan to make a run to the local Woodcraft tomorrow to get the Arm-R-Seal. Is the General Finishes oil stain better than Minwax? Could always just pick up some while I’m there. Other than filling in the grain a bit would there be any other advantage to using a gel stain? I already have the Minwax oil stain but if General Finishes oil stain is better or if gel would be better I’ll get it. Probably Candlelight or Salem- they look pretty close to Early American. Thanks.

-- Dave, York, PA, WildSide Woodworking

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CharlesNeil

1610 posts in 3332 days


#11 posted 02-14-2014 04:59 PM

Gf is better.. Dries better and has much better pigments, just be sure to let the stain dry well, remember you have an oil stain and a oil finish, AKA like on like .. if the stain isnt dry then the topcoat can sometimes try to pull some of the color .

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ravensrock

336 posts in 1104 days


#12 posted 02-25-2014 03:23 AM

I thought I would post an update. I decided to go with General Finishes products—American Walnut oil-based stain and I’ll then use Arm-R-Seal satin. I applied the stain yesterday and won’t get to the topcoat until later this week so it should be good and dry.

I do have a question. I noticed some sanding marks after I stained. You can see what I mean in the second picture where the rail meets the table leg. I thought about just letting it alone but being a bit of a perfectionist my eye tends to go right to this spot now. I used the random orbital to 180 grit then went over everything by hand also with 180 grit. Can I fix this by sanding with the grain using 180 then staining that spot again? Or would I risk messing it up more? Of course it’s on the front rail of the table (and not on the back that nobody would see). Any thoughts?

-- Dave, York, PA, WildSide Woodworking

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ravensrock

336 posts in 1104 days


#13 posted 03-03-2014 12:18 AM

So here is the final project. This is actually the first project I designed and built. Up until now I have usually had some kind of a plan to follow. It’s hard to see in the picture but there is glass on all four sides as well as the top. My brother-in-law was pleased with the result. His plan is to display an antique bear trap in the case. Thanks for the help and suggestions! On to the next project….finish modding my HF dust collector and then make a frame for my daughter’s Bachelor’s degree.

-- Dave, York, PA, WildSide Woodworking

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