Finish Advice - Kitchen Island Top

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Forum topic by Milo posted 05-07-2009 01:37 AM 2428 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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869 posts in 3343 days

05-07-2009 01:37 AM

Hey guys,

I am finishing up a kitchen island. Very simple job, modified a kitchen cabinet I picked up for a song at the local salvage shop, put on casters, re-enforced the base, and it’s going to work great as a mobile part of the kitchen.

I then realized I had a great piece of cherry from an old project I could use for the top.

My only question is: What kind of finish should I use on the top? Has anyone used one of those 2 part clear epoxies before? I need something sturdy, clear to appreciate the cherry, and somewhat easily available.

Advise appreciated!


-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

6 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#1 posted 05-07-2009 02:23 AM

Hey Milo
I’m not sure if your talking about poor on finishes or not . but if that’s what your thinking about it’s the toughest finish out there. You have to be care full how you apply it. The instructions many times say poor on in dust free clean atmosphere and let dry. But there’s more to it . first sand to 150 grit after staring from 100 grit go through the grits up to 150 then To insure good bonding put a 1 1/2 pound cut of shellac on the wood let dry 1 hr sand with 220 grit sand paper then mask of areas that you don’t the finish on including masking it so that you have a type of well remember this is poor on finish. then poor on half of the poor on finish. when dealing with this type of finish you have to be careful not to whip it up ,because it will get bubbles
in the finish. after pouring keep an eye on your finish to make sure bubbles don’t appear. If bubbles do appear blow on the finish the carbon monoxide in your breath will make them go away. If it is very humid when apply this finish it may blush(fog up) if this happens the finish can be sanded and buffed out.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3846 days

#2 posted 05-07-2009 03:21 PM

Milo, you might also want to consider a topcoat of oil base polyurethane. If you are not going to be using the top as a cutting block poly would work. Here is a laundry center project that I recently posted:

The top is a combination of maple, cherry and coffee tree. Since it was going to be exposed to wet clothes, laundry detergent and bleach I chose a topcoat of polyurethane. Poly stands up well to water and chemical exposure while providing protection for the wood surface. The downside to it is that it is not easy to repair. So if the surface is going to see a lot of abrasive action, i.e. cutting board, then I would go with something else.

And as far as cherry goes my normal finishing routine is: sand to 180, apply a coat of boiled linseed oil and let dry, apply a seal coat of 2 lb shellac and topcoat with several layers of wipe-on poly.

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

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3417 days

#3 posted 05-07-2009 07:35 PM

Your top is going to be part of a kitchen, lots of spills and wear…
The best way to go are oils….they take weeks to cure, but the top will be well protected agains liquids and normal wear. Tung oil or Refined Linseed oil are my preferrred.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

540 posts in 3505 days

#4 posted 05-07-2009 08:41 PM

If it’s not going to be used for cutting then I agree with Scott, a poly would most likely be the easiest finish to use, and it’s pretty sturdy too. If you are going to use it as a cutting board, then General Finishes makes a great Salad Bowl Finish that I’ve used on bowls I’ve turned, looks real nice and when it dries it’s non-toxic.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View jerry mayfield's profile

jerry mayfield

36 posts in 4109 days

#5 posted 05-07-2009 10:12 PM

You need to do a lot more investigating. The so called “salad bowl finish”s simply General’s polyurethane varnish in a different package with a higher price tag. Any of the “drying oils offer little in the way of protection against anything.

-- jerry,mlchigan

View LesB's profile


1748 posts in 3467 days

#6 posted 05-08-2009 01:22 AM

Your question only raises more questions as you see from the other responses. Regardless of what you use the cherry will eventually darken in color over time, faster with an oil finish than with a hard poly or epoxy.

If it will be used for a cutting surface, oil is the only way to go. Processed Walnut oil would be good because it soaks in and as it dries it will harden the surface. Also because it soaks in there is no surface finish material to scratch. It would also be easy to refinish by cleaning with a scraper and/or sander and adding more oil. It does not add any more color than other “clear” oils and is available at WoodCrafters. An oil finish will also stand up to heat better than a poly, “salad bowl”, or epoxy surface so if hot items from the oven or stove will go on it, again I would choose oil.
It if does not fall into the cutting or hot item category the poly surface is the easiest and you might look for one of the “floor” finish polys if there will be more than normal wear and tear on the finish. The floor finish types seem to resist scratching and wear better than plain poly. Epoxy will show scratches but you can buff them out occasionally with a plastic scratch removing compound.

-- Les B, Oregon

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