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Table Top Finishes

Table top finish

For many, the possibility of water spotting or scratching their tabletop is stressful.  No finish will eliminate these possibilities.  But we offer some options for finishing and surface preparation for various applications and personalities.  We will mail samples to you if you are considering our work.

Options for surface preparation

    Sanding a tabletop
  • Sanded.  We start with the finest grit that will remove any tool marks on the wood and true the surface; then we sand with a series of ever finer grits to remove the scratches of the grit before, until the scratches left from the last and finest grit can't be seen without a lens.  We start with 80 and progress through six grits to end at 400.  Low angle light will reflect evenly from a flat flawless surface.

  • Planing a tabletop
  • Hand planed.  With a very sharp hand plane, we remove a shaving from everywhere on the surface.  You can feel the very slight ridges and valleys left by this operation.  The slight ridges are about 1 1/2" apart and the valleys between are about .015" deep.  Some of the wood fibers tear rather that cut cleanly, leaving tiny divots, maybe .020" deep by .040" wide. Low angle light will be scattered and will highlight the handwork and obscure future scratches, dents, and so on.
    This surface might be considered distressed, although it isn't.

The sanded surface is "perfect" and the planed surface is not.  Each has benefits and people who prefer them.

I recommend a sanded tabletop for those who:  1) want the finest surface and the ultimate finish or  2) do not like the informality of the hand planed surface.

I recommend a hand planed tabletop for those who:  1) like clear evidence that someone built the table by hand,  2) like the resulting texture, or  3) want to obscure dings and scratches in the irregular surface.

Options for Finish

  • Hand rubbed oil.  This is the finish that we use on the chairs, but we apply two additional coats.  Again, it is the least intermediary between you and the wood, and while it is easy to repair, it is the least resistant to water spotting.

  • Varnish.  As step one of this finish, we hand-rub oil into the wood to bring out the natural color and depth, then we apply several very thin coats of polyurethane varnish, with a brush.  Our objective is to apply the thinnest coating possible that will hold out a water-spill overnight, flex to follow a dent, and resist scratching by its toughness.  This material and this method yield our desired result, but it is difficult to apply flawlessly.  In the right light, you may see minor imperfections in our varnish finish more than you might see in a thicker sprayed-on finish (very skillfully applied), but the years will be much kinder to it.

With any of our finishes and all of our furniture, I urge everyone to relax and use it.  Our furniture is museum quality, but made for home and family living.  A scratch or dent is a minor thing; a collection of them writes your history of use.  If refinishing is desired, the wood is solid and thick.

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