Walnut Natural Finish - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 04-17-2019, 01:07 AM Thread Starter
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Question Walnut Natural Finish

Hello,

First time posting to this forum. I'm building a farmhouse type kitchen dining table. Top is made of Walnut. Trying to figure out how to finish. My wife loves the colder grey tone of the wood and would like to keep that as much as possible. She doesn't want the darker brown or red-ish finish. From what I've read the only way to keep the color as much like the gray as possible is to use a water-white or clear water based type finish.

Few questions:

Is it a mistake to use a water based laquer or finish for a kitchen table - I have young children?
I have read about Sherwin-Williams CAB-Acrylic Laquer being very good at keeping color, but I can't figure out how to purchase. Can't find on their website. Is there another suggest brand or other option?
Would I need to use a top coat with this?
Is there a better way?

To be fair, this is my first table so I'm learning as I go.

Thanks in Advance.

-Adam
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-17-2019, 07:48 AM
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Welcome to the forum, Adam! Add your location to your profile so it shows in the side panel. You can add your first name to your signature line and it will show in each post.

10's of thousands, maybe 100's of thousands of dining tables have been finished with lacquer. For about 5-6 years I owned a woodworking business where we also did refinishing and we used Nitrocellulose lacquer on every dining, conference, end, sofa, and coffee table we built or refinished. But it was solvent based, not water based. Having said that, though, I think once the lacquer is cured they're probably close to the same.

Walnut gets lighter with age, Cherry gets darker, so you're probably ok with the wood color. Nitrocellulose lacquer will yellow over time but you can get a water-white lacquer to maintain the clear look. Or you could use acrylic lacquer.

Others will chime in with their favorite finishes so you should have choices coming your way.

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post #3 of 14 Old 04-17-2019, 06:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awhit22 View Post
...First time posting to this forum...
Hi Adam,

Welcome to the forum...and thanks for sharing your project with us. Pictures would be great when you figure out how to post some?

Quote:
Originally Posted by awhit22 View Post
...I'm building a farmhouse type kitchen dining table. Top is made of Walnut. Trying to figure out how to finish. My wife loves the colder grey tone of the wood and would like to keep that as much as possible. She doesn't want the darker brown or red-ish finish. From what I've read the only way to keep the color as much like the gray as possible is to use a water-white or clear water based type finish.
There is all manner of ways to finish your table...most will offer only "modern methods" which will not, nor can age like the traditional finishes. Its just not in the chemistry of "plastic" and/or modern finishes to do so...

My professional work is almost exclusively in the folks styles, be it the timber frame architecture I work on or the furniture within. Harvest Tables (aka Farmhouse Tables) are a key element of that kind of work. These being traditional pieces I only use the original formulas to finish them. The same kinds found on the original versions, which are virtually all natural materials and proven over millenia of use application...

Quote:
Originally Posted by awhit22 View Post
...Is it a mistake to use a water based laquer or finish for a kitchen table - I have young children?
If this is for their safety...I can more than understand that, so if you want to use this type for that reason, It's not out of context for the modern woodworker...

Quote:
Originally Posted by awhit22 View Post
...I have read about Sherwin-Williams CAB-Acrylic Laquer being very good at keeping color, but I can't figure out how to purchase. Can't find on their website. Is there another suggest brand or other option? Would I need to use a top coat with this?
I personally can't speak to any of those questions. That would be for others here to share their methods on...

Quote:
Originally Posted by awhit22 View Post
...Is there a better way?...To be fair, this is my first table so I'm learning as I go.
Boy...!!!...is that a loaded question...LOL...

"Better" is a subjective perspective in the world of finishing in many ways...Of course there can be "bad technique" or misapplication of the wrong material or methods used out of context...Many will "think" their methods are "better" than some other method...yet for me its about context and style. I work in traditional context, so my finishes I make or employ are also traditional/natural in context...that doesn't really make them "better," accept to me and the style of woodworking I practice and promote...As such, I would recommend tradtional and/or natural finishes only on a project like this...

Some other conversation here on the same subject you may enjoy reading and learning from? If there is anything in any of these conversations you find helpful or have questions about, I would be glad to expand on anything or answer whatever question you may have...

Framing out a tabletop?

How to Stain Hard Maple and Retain Grain's Beauty

Reuse of Old Poplar Logs

Tosa Tomo Designs
Confucius (551 BCE): "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand..." "...Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance..." Socrates:I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only help them think..."
Stephen Covey:"Seek to understand, before seeking to be understood..."
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post #4 of 14 Old 04-17-2019, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awhit22 View Post
Hello,

First time posting to this forum. I'm building a farmhouse type kitchen dining table. Top is made of Walnut. Trying to figure out how to finish. My wife loves the colder grey tone of the wood and would like to keep that as much as possible. She doesn't want the darker brown or red-ish finish. From what I've read the only way to keep the color as much like the gray as possible is to use a water-white or clear water based type finish.

Few questions:

Is it a mistake to use a water based laquer or finish for a kitchen table - I have young children?
I have read about Sherwin-Williams CAB-Acrylic Laquer being very good at keeping color, but I can't figure out how to purchase. Can't find on their website. Is there another suggest brand or other option?
Would I need to use a top coat with this?
Is there a better way?

To be fair, this is my first table so I'm learning as I go.

Thanks in Advance.

-Adam
The gray raw wood color can only be done with a stain. Anything you put on the wood is going to darken it. A water based polyurethane would do the least amount of darkening but it would still do it. Try some on a piece of scrap to see. For what you are doing I would recommend coating the wood with a gray latex paint wiping off most of the paint on some scrap wood first. Then when that dries finish it with a water based polyurethane. Like anything else it's going to take some tinkering adjusting the gray to suit your needs. Then when you think you have the color go ahead and put the clear coating on it even though it is scrap. The clear will often alter the appearance.
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post #5 of 14 Old 04-17-2019, 07:55 PM
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Check out this process posted here ...

Here's a pretty good write up by a member from 09/12:
https://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f8/f...ep-step-42996/


Other options here:
https://www.woodcraft.com/products/m...hoCwdQQAvD_BwE

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 04-17-2019 at 08:00 PM.
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post #6 of 14 Old 04-17-2019, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the quick replies. I have a bunch of tests to do.

Here are a couple Photos of the unfinished table top. It isn't terribly large. ~84" x 36". I have an Ash Base for it that I'll also stain/paint for a nice contrast.

-Adam
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-Adam
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post #7 of 14 Old 04-17-2019, 11:10 PM
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BEAUTIFUL top....BUT I have a question......the top just doesn't appear correct in photo...this could be color shift via camera, lighting, etc. BUT the grainage for walnut doesn't appear correct, did I overlook something or have you put something on it already???

I haven't thoroughly read all the posts so please forgive me if I ask something already covered, this concerns the breadboards, are they designed and built to float...not glued/mounted solid???

Please show the ash base, I'm sure it's as pretty.

Thanks.

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post #8 of 14 Old 04-18-2019, 12:09 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tennessee Tim View Post
BEAUTIFUL top....BUT I have a question......the top just doesn't appear correct in photo...this could be color shift via camera, lighting, etc. BUT the grainage for walnut doesn't appear correct, did I overlook something or have you put something on it already???

I haven't thoroughly read all the posts so please forgive me if I ask something already covered, this concerns the breadboards, are they designed and built to float...not glued/mounted solid???

Please show the ash base, I'm sure it's as pretty.

Thanks.

Thank you.

I don't think the color came out correctly in the photo - light in my garage isn't great. Nothing on the top yet. However, I intentionally did not try to line up the grains to be perfect. I was going for a more rustic, feel. Less of a polished look, if you will. That may be where you are seeing deficiencies.

Regarding the breadboard ends. Thanks for the concern. I'm guessing you're worried about cracking or separation? I designed them to float a bit and they aren't 100% traditional closed on the sides. I used a tounge and groove all the way across. The groove and that ends extends about 2/3 into the end piece for stability. Only the center dowel on each end is fixed. the other 4 help keep it tight, but inside the holes are drilled in an oblong pattern to allow for movement. Very light glue otherwise. Hopefully I didn't shoot my self in the foot there. :)

I ran out to the local woodcraft store to grab a sample of a water based poly. 1st coat on test boards now and waiting to see how it turns out.

-Adam
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post #9 of 14 Old 04-18-2019, 08:49 AM
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Sounds as you've attempted a correct breadboard install...thumbs up!!!!!!!

I think the Heritage would be beautiful on this piece....it's a wonderful finish that really brings out the beauty in the wood. Just my opinion.

Looks great, keep up the good work!!!
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post #10 of 14 Old 04-18-2019, 03:05 PM
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I'm a little late getting here.

If you don't mind doing a little bit of maintenance every 6 months or so, Johnsons Paste Wax. Then I would use Minwax Antique Oil Finish. It is available at Rockler (44th and Thunderbird IIRC) at a reasonable price. Also both HD and Lowes did carry it at one time.

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post #11 of 14 Old 05-18-2019, 06:14 PM Thread Starter
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Talking

All,

Thank you for all your help and advice. I finally finished the table and was able to get it into the house today. Believe it or not, my wife actually ended up liking the darker finish opposed to the natural color I originally asked about. All the "clear" top coats I tried for a natural look ended up causing a slightly purple hue to the finish - weird. Ended up going with a Natural Danish Oil base with 4 coats of clear satin polyurethane on top. I think I need to learn how to apply a spray topcoat as that was the hardest part to keep smooth without streaks. Perhaps when I refinish years from now I'll try my hand there. Links to photos below.

Again thank you all.

-Adam
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post #12 of 14 Old 05-18-2019, 09:15 PM
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Yes, if you are going to apply a film finish it's a lot easier and better to spray it. It doesn't have to be a high dollar sprayer, a cheap harbor freight sprayer will spray wood finishes just fine.
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post #13 of 14 Old 05-19-2019, 10:46 AM
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For someone doing their "first table" you sure turned out a nice one. I seldom find breadboards I like but yours turned out great. I was also curious how the gray would look but the danish oil gave it a beautiful warm look.

Mike
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post #14 of 14 Old 05-21-2019, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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For someone doing their "first table" you sure turned out a nice one. I seldom find breadboards I like but yours turned out great. I was also curious how the gray would look but the danish oil gave it a beautiful warm look.
Mike. Thank you for the kind words. I really thought a clear coat would just darken the walnut and leave a slightly darker look. Was surprised on how much it changes it to a purple-ish hue. I was thankful that I had some scrap left over from the top to test on before I applied to the table itself.
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