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Table Finish

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  • Table Finish

    I'm going to refinish our curly soft maple kitchen table top. I'd like to use a brushed on water based varnish or oil wax.
    Options being considered are:

    Varathane Professional
    Varathane Nano Defense Floor Finish
    General Finishes High Performance Varnish
    Emtech EM2000wvx Alkyd Varnish
    OSMO Hard Wax Oil

    I'd appreciate comments concerning durability etc of each.

    John in London
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  • #2

    Re: Table Finish

    Whatever finish is used, it is not more durable against dents and scratches than the underlying wood. For a table, western maple (or soft maple) is relatively hard, but not as hard or durable as some other wood choices such as oak or eastern maple. Given what you have to work with, I would approach it from the view that at some point in the future, you will want to refinish the table and ask yourself what might be the easiest finish to refinish. Other considerations are if the finish is to protect against liquid spills, hot cups of coffee, and or general scuffs. A film type finish is usually recommended for table tops with the aforementioned considerations, but an oil finish might be a good choice for easier refinishing and touch ups.
    Paul O in Paris and Darrell like this.
    Anyone who doesn’t think money grows on trees hasn’t bought any lumber lately.


    • #3

      Re: Table Finish

      I have had great success with Target Coatings EM8000 conversion varnish, which you can fortify with their CL100 cross-linker. It's got to be the most durable finish they carry.
      All the best,


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      My goal is not to be better than anyone else. My goal is to be better than I used to be.


      • #4

        Re: Table Finish

        I like doing both, use linseed oil and turpentine and rub that in , give it time and dry down and do several applications. If you want o call it that then you can continue and do a few coats with about 320 wet or dry soaked with the oil followed by a dry down.

        then if you want the resistance you can do poly or epoxy or some other topcoat to form a shell.

        my reasoning is this : the oil soaks into the wood and provides some toughness near the surface. If you just use poly then it will dent but then the dent is encapsulated by a layer of plastic then you can't use steam or water too lift the dent. Having the surface toughened up by the oil penetration isn't going to save the world or anything , there are limits to it, but it does help a bit to toughen the outer "skin" of wood and pops the grain nicely too.
        If you get the oil on your clothes it sure does toughen them !

        maybe if it has a heavy coat of epoxy that resists denting and you can achieve a satin finish ,,but to many it looks like plastic. Epoxy is tough but it isn't really a finish for fine furniture in my eyes..

        If it's a solid tabletop you can always sand through it and do it again but reapplying the oil is dead easy.
        I think I'd use the poly if it were used by young kids, or sees constant wiping like a restaraunt, and oil if used by adults. shellac and lacquer are contenders but if you drink alcohol, especially spirits, I'd avoid it because spills can then ruin the finish.

        I have not tried using a water based poly over an oil finish, I use oil based poly but I'd like to know what would happen if it were a water based poly, would it stick as well with a coat of oil down first? Would they be incompatible?