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The Right Finish for a Desk/Workspace?

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Forum topic by Eric posted 1965 days ago 901 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Eric

873 posts in 2370 days


1965 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: lego table desk workspace shellac checkerboard

Hi everyone,

I just finished the lego table for my kids, and I have in mind to make another plywood top which will fit inside the lip of the current table, to turn the lego table into a desk/workspace for the kids. I want to have the top be nice and smooth. What will do that – shellac?

What I want to do is to paint a couple things on the top first – like maybe a checkerboard on one half and a backgammon board on the other? Not sure yet. So what would you suggest – shellac, then paint, then shellac again? How many coats?

I’m a total noob at this so I give you permission to talk to me like I’m a total idiot. :^)

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com


7 replies so far

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CharlieM1958

15629 posts in 2805 days


#1 posted 1965 days ago

I’m not sure what would be best as a base coat to paint on. Someone will jump in with some advice, I’m sure. For the topcoat, though, I would definitely use polyurethane. It’s much more durable than shellac for a work surface. You’ll need 2 or 3 coats.

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

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PurpLev

8476 posts in 2235 days


#2 posted 1965 days ago

Eric, since you’re talking about a workspace desk and for kids – I’d recommend shying AWAY from the shellac and going with several layers of Poly (you can dilute it with mineral spirits 50%-50% and get wire on poly) sand between layers with 400/600 grit, and last layer lightly scrub with #0000 steel wool – you’ll have a silky smooth surface that will also offer tremendous amount of protection for a work surface.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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interpim

1123 posts in 2045 days


#3 posted 1965 days ago

for a rock solid surface for the kids, epoxy is always an option.

-- San Diego, CA

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2408 days


#4 posted 1965 days ago

Eric, I have to agree with the wipe-on poly recommendation. The finish you put on the table is largely a personal matter but, for most of us, paint is simply not an option. If you want to the kids to paint some designs and sign their work then I would put a seal coat of shellac over the paint after the paint has cured and then topcoat it with a wipe-on poly. The shellac will be ready for topcoating within 30 to 60 minutes after applying. Just scuff sand it lightly and apply the wipe-on poly with a clean cotton cloth or paper towel. Wait 4 to 6 hours and apply another coat after scuff sanding again. Repeat this process until you get the finish you like.

By the way save yourself some money and just make your own wipe-on poly. Get an oil base poly and dilute it to a concentration of about 50 percent with mineral spirits.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Beginningwoodworker's profile

Beginningwoodworker

13337 posts in 2259 days


#5 posted 1965 days ago

I would use a water base poly finish.

-- CJIII Future cabinetmaker

View Eric's profile

Eric

873 posts in 2370 days


#6 posted 1964 days ago

Thanks everyone, for your input. I neglected to mention that I HAVE already finished the table itself – I put on a few coats of BLO/varnish/mineral spirits. And I’m happy with that. But I know that I’ll need something different for the “table top” board that will go on top of the piece that’s already there. So my bad if I confused anyone.

Sounds like the wipe-on poly is what I’ll do! Can I paint on top of it? Cuz as it is the board is not smooth enough for a checkerboard – or anything – to look really crisp if I painted straight onto it.

So do I apply a coat (or few) of poly, and then paint, and then more coats (of poly, or shellac then poly as Scott suggests)?

-- Eric at http://adventuresinwoodworking.com

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2408 days


#7 posted 1964 days ago

Eric, you may be able to paint over the poly but you will not get a good bond with the paint I have never intentionally put paint over poly but, on occasion, I have managed to get paint on the trim when I have been “assigned” a room to re-paint. I have always been able to remove the paint without any trouble, even when it has sat for an extended period (since the last time I painted the room) without damaging the poly topcoat.

If I were doing something like this I would paint the checkerboard design on the wood after it has been sanded, seal it with a coat of shellac to prevent bleeding into the poly and then topcoat the shellac with poly.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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