Barnwood table top advice - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-29-2010, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Barnwood table top advice

I'm making a dining table out of barnwood(red pine i was told) and could use some advice on the finishing of it.
So far i have removed nails, planed, straightened the edges, glued 3 planks together, and belt sanded at 50, 80, and 120 grit to even out(flatten) the cupping on the planks.
My plan is to belt sand further to remove more cupping, then switch to hand sand at 150, 180, 220 to smooth and more if needed. Stain with oil base(minwax/ Benj Moore wiping, ect), and finish with a satin polyurethane(many coats).
So here's the main questions:
1.These pieces have many holes, some from nails, some from the age of the lumber. These all add character to the piece(in my opinion) and i like them, BUT i don't want to drop my fork thru one when i'm eating also. I would like to keep the holes(appearance) but fill them, clear?? Is there a product out there that will do what i'm thinking? Epoxy? If so how is it used?
2. The oil stain / polyurethane finishes i mentioned above are what i know from my "average" woodworking skills. Other suggestions are welcome, i have access to many products, i can spray or brush, and have a large heated shop to work in.

Any / all advise is appreciated

Thanks
Dave
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post #2 of 7 Old 01-29-2010, 12:53 PM
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Wow, that piece has some cool potential. But, are you certain you wanted to leave the large holes? I don't think they add any character at all (like all of the nail and possibly worm holes) and frankly detract from the table. The problem with filming over those holes (epoxy or otherwise) is there is nothing there to hold the "film" while it cures and dries. It will just fall through. Why not cut that little bit off and forget about the huge holes?

As for sanding, your belt sander was fine for the first cuts, but for a table top, I would highly recommend switching now to a random orbit or palm sander and finishing up with a sanding block and doing it by hand when you get to #180 or #220.

As for stains.... I would probably use a water or alcohol based dye stain on that old barn wood. There is no way to know what it's been exposed to over the years and absorbed into its pores. A dye stain will give you a much more even appearance, where as something that is to penetrate like pigmented oil or water based stain, will be more at the mercy of the wood and what its already absorbed. There is potential to really get some very un-even looking wood with a penetrating pigment type stain. Your best bet IMHO.... is to make your own using TransTint dyes. You can use water or alcohol as a base and mix them to your exact needs. Just practice on some scrap first to make certain you have the measurements where you want them. Also, keep track of what you mix so that it's repeatable.

You could also use a gel type stain. These are like dyes in that they lay more on the surface rather than penetrate. However, most big box store grade gel stains are difficult to work with IMHO. The last time I tested Minwax gel stain for example, it was gritty and stained very unevenly. The one I prefer is from General Finishes. It's the consistancy of yougart and flows out really well with some good open times to work with it. However, with a high quality gel stain, you will tend to cover up a lot of the grain so they may not be what you are looking for.

I would also recommend sealing after your stain coat with some type of sanding sealer. I love using de-waxed shellac under my finish coats. Two or three coats prior to my finish coats really helps the grain to pop and give nice depth to my over all final finish. If the shellac is de-waxed you can use absolutelly any top coat - oil, lacquer, water or alcohol based and they will adhere beautifully. However, shellac can be tricky to work with because it flashes off so quickly. Some don't like using it for that reason alone. So, an oil based sanding sealer will once again make the grain pop and start your finish build nicely. You can then use a water based polyurethane or polyacrylic or any of your preferred types of lacquer and build out several coats in a day because of the very quick dry times.
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post #3 of 7 Old 01-29-2010, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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JW thanks for the info
Yes i agree the large holes are my biggest problem, looking back i should of went with a different board in the center(seeing as i have enough lumber to enclose a 30' x 20' x 16' barn) but i didn't. Are you suggesting that i cut out and patch? or cut the end off by 2-3 inches and re-glue my end board? The issue i have is that the top is already sized to fit the frame to hold it, i don't think i have any room to shorten it(i have to check this).
Sanding advise - good i will go this route.
I like the idea of the Trans Tint dies as your right that this wood is very dry, dry, dry. Even applying pre-stain conditioner it darkened / changed a lot.
I've never used a sanding sealer / shellac but recently read something similar to what you suggest so i think i'll give it a shot.
Thanks again

Dave
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-29-2010, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheezer View Post
JW thanks for the info
Yes i agree the large holes are my biggest problem, looking back i should of went with a different board in the center(seeing as i have enough lumber to enclose a 30' x 20' x 16' barn) but i didn't. Are you suggesting that i cut out and patch? or cut the end off by 2-3 inches and re-glue my end board? The issue i have is that the top is already sized to fit the frame to hold it, i don't think i have any room to shorten it(i have to check this).
Sanding advise - good i will go this route.
I like the idea of the Trans Tint dies as your right that this wood is very dry, dry, dry. Even applying pre-stain conditioner it darkened / changed a lot.
I've never used a sanding sealer / shellac but recently read something similar to what you suggest so i think i'll give it a shot.
Thanks again

Dave
Dave....

Maybe you could cut the same amount off of both ends and go with an extra length of board on each end? sort of a II====II instead of I====I .... That way it won't look patched.

I love using shellacs but then again, I'm used to using them. They aren't for everyone. You need to work quickly and not "over work" them. The shellac flakes are dissolved into denatured alcohol. Think how quickly alcohol evaporates on your skin.... denatured alcohol which the shellac flakes are dissolved in is really no different.

Really, it's the same with an alcohol based dye stain. But that is something you would spray rather than try to brush. But again, you need to work quickly or you end up with "stripes" in your stain job. So, if you aren't experienced with spraying alcohol dye stains, maybe water based would be a better way to go.

No matter which way you go though.... even if you end up using a gel stain (like the one from General Finishes).... I still recommend a sanding sealer prior to any final finish coats. It can be a shellac (as long as it's de-waxed shellac) or any number of sealer type coats. For example, many lacquers call for a vinyl sealer prior to the lacquer coats or an oil based sealer under an oil based varnish.... whatever you end up using.... an alcohol (shellac) or oil based sealer gives your project some depth and definition prior to final finish coats.

Once again.... always test on scrap and keep a finish schedule so that you can repeat your results once you find something that you like. What I like and works for me.... may not be your cup of tea so practice, practice, practice on scrap until you get the perfect (repeatable) end result for you. There are just so darned many different products and techniques available that no single process or product is the only answer. But, getting there is more than half the fun no?


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post #5 of 7 Old 01-29-2010, 07:22 PM
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Perhaps you could 'dam' the bottom of that ragged end and fill it with an epoxy or urethane product, sand it out and then finish it?
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-30-2010, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JW_in_Indy View Post
.........The problem with filming over those holes (epoxy or otherwise) is there is nothing there to hold the "film" while it cures and dries. It will just fall through. Why not cut that little bit off and forget about the huge holes?........
I have never had any problems with using plain old brown masking tape on the bottom of the table tops to stop the epoxy from falling through. Just make sure you overlap the hole enough to get a good bonding surface. No magic involved. I do this quite often.

Tony B Retired woodworker, among other things.


"Strive for excellence and settle for completion" Tony B
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post #7 of 7 Old 01-30-2010, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Update, i've cut back the table to get rid of the 2 large holes(or minimize them at liest) and glued a new board on the end. Figured this was the best option in the long run. But i will still need to use the epoxy in a couple spots. Is it something thats applied between stain & finish coats?? or before stain during the sanding process?
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