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Thread: Varathaned trestle table

  1. #1

    Default Varathaned trestle table

    In the fall I finished building my 40x60 trestle table. I used 1/4 cut white oak,maple and cherry. I finished it with varathane professional clear satin finish. I put about six coats before I gave it a quick 320 sand and a last coat with 50/50 varathane/varsole finish.
    now in the last 3 months since its been at home I can feel the seems between the oak and maple. That was something that I could live with because I have 2 small boys who have a ready made a bunch of "gonna have to sand those marks out" marks on the top.So I figured Id refinish it when there a little older. But now im starting to see "wear marks" is the only way I could describe it. It looks like someone took some 600 sand paper and gave it a little rub. My question is this. I'f I refinish the table in the spring what should I use??? Ive never worked with anything besides varathane and polyurethane. Should I consider getting it sprayed?? What would something like that cost? I use this same finish on my 1/4 white oak coffee table and Ive had nothing like these ware marks.
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    Last edited by madness69; 01-02-2010 at 01:38 PM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Kitchener, ON

    Default Re: varathaned trestle table

    How can you describe the "wear marks"? Is the finish getting glossier there? or more flat / matte?

    In first case, it's because of mechanical rub on the table.

    The second comes from cleaning with chemicals.

    The table looks good and you've done a great job at coating it. I don't see why use spraying equipment, as the composition of the finish is the same. Spraying would help just to get a better finished surface (flatter / more uniform etc) but you did well enough as not to need it.

    What can help is using a product with better resistance. There have been some great debates here about which would be that product, but I haven't noticed any final conclusion.


  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central Toronto, Yonge and Eg area

    Default Re: varathaned trestle table

    If you have a couple of small destroyers at home why not just "freshen up" the finish every now and again for the next year or two or 10....thats quick and easy - simply solvent wipe, fast light scuff sand (note you are NOT refinishing at this point) then apply another coat or two of your favorite wipe on poly and it'll look like new - then once the table has had a chance to settle down after a few years (and the destroyers are if that helps) and the wood has really aclimatised and stabilised you can strip and sand it all down, smooth out all the seams (lots of work!) and either apply an easily renewable finish like polymerised tung oil with or without a coat or two of wax on top (both of which have been around for centuries) or a rock hard, durable as it gets, conversion varnish in the sheen of your choice (which typically you will need to spray).

    Or you could simply re-apply multiple new coats of Varathane (as you did) to the newly smoothed out surface.
    The nice thing about that product is its very user friendly, relatively tough (but not totally destroyer proof, as you will find out...nothing is actually!) and it is easy to renew or refresh as the years roll on.....if you start playing with something like conversion varnish you will discover that it can be very finicky as regards application and film thickness and humidity during application and recoating is very (very!) tough to do well.

    I would be awfully inclined to go one of the easier routes myself (and I do have all the spray gear + conversion glop, etc) until the table ruiners have got girlfriends and better things to do.
    Then you can finish it once and for all....until then, to be quite honest, you are pretty much doomed.
    But you could spend the time making some nice chairs to go with the table...hows that for a a good idea!

    Nice looking table I must say.
    Good luck.
    Last edited by Julian; 01-03-2010 at 12:33 PM. Reason: I felt like it.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Default Re: Varathaned trestle table

    I can't help you with your table finishing dilemma. However I really like the table you built. It has the look of being craftsman built..or to put it another way it looks like something you wouldn't find easily in the stores.

    What did you use to flatten the whole thing flat after laminating all the wood strips together?


  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    GTA, Ontario.

    Default Re: Varathaned trestle table

    If you use place mats, that cuts down on the wear and tear on the surface. They are available in a wide variety of materials and can even enhance the appearance of the table.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    N.E. Edmonton

    Default Re: Varathaned trestle table

    madness69, welcome to the forum and I must say, that is one fantastic table! You did a fantastic job on the tresle, I love the base / foot design, and the top is excellent as well. Love the contrasting woods.

    It appears as though you did a fine job of finishing this table the first time. I would not refinish it if I were you. I think it'll be overly time consuming, and you won't see a huge difference in results. Wear and tear will happen, especially with young roughkins running around. My little guy loves to jamb his fork into the table top every chance he gets, play with his toy trucks on it, ram his toy cars into the side of the legs, hit it with his toy hammer, and otherwise do everything that I repeatedly tell him not to do. But I have a cheap Ikea table and I don't care. No finish you put on that table will ever "fully" protect it from wear marks, and dings and dents. That being said, if I had built a fine table like yours, I would expect the charachter marks and wear to appear shortly after. I would not sweat it, and maybe do a light retouch of wipe on poly, as has been suggested, just to restore the surface look, once every year or two.
    IMO, don't cause more hassle for yourself than necessary. Don't bother getting it sprayed proffesionally, and just touch it up with the thinned poly you used for the final coat once in a while.


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  9. #7

    Default Re: Varathaned trestle table

    First thx for all the positive feed back. I think I will take the advice of just "freshening up" the table every year. Maybe once the kids r alot older I'll refinish it. I was just getting worried because I made a 1/4 white oak coffee table in the spring and it never had the same kind of ware marks like the trestle table has. But after actually being around the house for the holiday I discovered the cause. Its just good old fashion ware and tare. Its like we now have a giant place to store stuff.

    To answer the question about how flatten it out after all the strips are laminated???
    I"m a stair builder and I'm lucking enough to have a 42" wide thickness sander in the shop.
    If you wanted to do it with out one you'd need a scraper,belt sander and alot of elbow grease.

    Next project...... Mahogany dressers....

  10. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Default Re: Varathaned trestle table

    Something that hasn't yet been mentioned is that poly varnish is tough , but not hard. That is, it will scratch and scuff easier than a traditional varnish, but is overall more durable.

    In the case of a table, a more traditional alkyd or phenolic varnish might be more appropriate.

  11. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Milton, ON
    Real Name

    Default Re: Varathaned trestle table

    I am the furthest thing from a re-finisher but it was my understanding that a satin finish is produce by adding silica as a dulling agent. It sounds like the sheen you are getting is created by day to day use essentially rubbing out the silica.

    If I were to make a guess (please correct me if I'm wrong) I would reapply a semi-gloss or Gloss to avoid this from happening again.

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