Finish for Reloading Workbench - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 Old 03-05-2013, 09:57 PM Thread Starter
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Finish for Reloading Workbench

Greetings from Texas!

I have built a workbench using good quality 2x4's and Simpson Strong-Ties for the frame. For the bench top, I glued/screwed two pieces of 3/4" plywood together and the bottom shelf is one piece of 3/4" plywood cut to fit in the bottom of the frame. The bench top and bottom shelf is C-3 Birch Domestic Plywood from Home Depot and just appears to have a thin piece of birch veneer glued to the plywood.

I have already applied two coats of Cabot Quick-Dry Sanding Sealer (oil-based) to the underside of the top and the edges, sanding with 220 grit between coats. I am really confused as to what to use for the exposed work-top surface and the bottom shelf.

Since I'm such a noob at woodworking (and have asked others who are knowledgable), I'm still looking for opinions as to what will be the best finish for the top of the work surface and the bottom shelf, keeping in mind it will be subjected to SOME abuse, but not much since I'll put down towels and/or pads when working on it. My mantra has been "this is a workbench, not a piece of furniture", so the simpler the better and it doesn't have to be "beautiful"...just functional, sturdy, and low maintenance.

The question I've been asking is whether or not a Spar Varnish or Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane will work and whether or not I need to apply Sanding Sealer BEFORE applying either one of these, if they're even compatible with each other.

I'm so confused....thanks for any input!!!
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post #2 of 8 Old 03-05-2013, 11:25 PM
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I painted mine.
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-05-2013, 11:36 PM
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Don't use the spar varnish. A spar is formulated to be softer to deal the extreme weather conditions of being outside. A better finish would be a oil based polyurethane. I used Sherwin Williams gloss interior oil based polyurethane on my work bench just because I needed to use it before it went bad. I was amazed on how hard the finish is to scratch. I previously didn't recommend a film finish on a bench however it's doing really well.
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post #4 of 8 Old 03-06-2013, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies y'all.

After thinking about this a bit more, would 3 or 4 coats of Sanding Sealer alone, properly applied, provide enough protection for the limited amount of abuse the bench top will receive from maybe small oil and/or chemical spills which would be wiped up immediately? I don't foresee actually working on my firearms on the bench without a towel or mat underneath, so I don't think it'll be suffering too much from dings and dents. And I like the results I've gotten so far on the bottom of the bench top from only 2 coats of Sanding Sealer that I've put down.

Great day!!!
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post #5 of 8 Old 03-06-2013, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERJ_Driver View Post
Thanks for the replies y'all.

After thinking about this a bit more, would 3 or 4 coats of Sanding Sealer alone, properly applied, provide enough protection for the limited amount of abuse the bench top will receive from maybe small oil and/or chemical spills which would be wiped up immediately? I don't foresee actually working on my firearms on the bench without a towel or mat underneath, so I don't think it'll be suffering too much from dings and dents. And I like the results I've gotten so far on the bottom of the bench top from only 2 coats of Sanding Sealer that I've put down.

Great day!!!
The sanding sealer is softer than than spar varnish. It is made soft so the between the coats sanding would be easier. It also has more solids to build thickness which would be more likely to absorb oils. If you have the spar varnish already, it would be better to use that than sealer only. There are some solvents in gun cleaning that would eat into the finish and you would not be able to wipe it up. You would have to have used a conversion varnish to be able to do that.
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post #6 of 8 Old 03-06-2013, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
The sanding sealer is softer than than spar varnish. It is made soft so the between the coats sanding would be easier. It also has more solids to build thickness which would be more likely to absorb oils. If you have the spar varnish already, it would be better to use that than sealer only. There are some solvents in gun cleaning that would eat into the finish and you would not be able to wipe it up. You would have to have used a conversion varnish to be able to do that.
Thanks again Steve! I got with Minwax and the person there stated their Spar Urethane is compatible to go on top of their Sanding Sealer. I've read other threads that it's best to cut the first couple of coats of Urethane 50/50 with mineral spirits and then progressively reduce the percentage of mineral spirits in the final few coats. Oh...and apply with a rag instead of a brush. I guess the only way to learn this stuff is to just dive right in and start doing it. The worst that can happen is that I'll have to sand everything off and start over, eh?

Appreciate your input and insight...
jvb
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-06-2013, 04:02 PM
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There isn't much that Hoppe's No. 9 can't attack! As a reloading bench, there will forever be crumbs to wipe up. All mats and pads aside, I'd want to have any surface that's really smooth and hard for a wipe-down with a damp rag. But you're right = it's a bench. The products that come off the bench are what matters.
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-06-2013, 07:20 PM Thread Starter
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Well after opening the Minwax Sanding Sealer and the Polyurethane, I wound up taking both of them back to Home Depot. When the label states "Clear", it really means CLEAR. There was no color whatsoever, and I was expecting there to be SOME level of amber color like the Cabot Sanding Sealer has.

Sooooo...I called Cabot directly and asked if their Spar Varnish was compatible as a top coat over the Quick-Dry Sanding Sealer and it is. I wound up hitting Lowe's and bought more of both and that's what will be used for the finish. I'll put down 2-3 coats of sanding sealer with the final coat sanded with 400 grit and then put down no less than 3 coats of varnish.

And you're correct, Robson...I'm in hopes that once it's all said and done and completely finished, it will be a hard work surface as smooth as a baby's butt.

Thanks again for all the comments and suggestions...
jvb
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