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Hello,

I had sme questions about bubbles/fish-eyes in a dining room table top. We are refinishing a second oak dining room table. The first one we did, we sanded clean, stained, shellac, and poly coated. Before doing the shellac, we had a lot of fish eyes, but only a few after we re-sanded and put the shellac on. Now on this time around, I was wondering if I should first clean the sanded, raw table with mineral spirits and then do my wood conditioner and stain and then shellac and poly to avoid any fish eyes? Also note that I will be using a sprayer for my clear coat.

Thank you!
 

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The Nut in the Cellar
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I had this problem once with a refinish project (see the dumpster dive table in my album). I carefully sanded the veneered top and dyed it. When I applied the first coat of varnish, it fisheyed so badly, it actually beaded up on the top. After wiping all of the varnish off with several rolls of paper towels and a gallon of mineral spirits, I started over by wiping the top down with lacquer thinner and then applying a generous coat of de-waxed shellac to seal the remaining silicones in. The wax in regular shellac will keep the varnish from properly flowing out (i.e. fisheye). In my case, I found out later my problems stemmed from a silicone build up on the table. The previous owner's mother was a huge user of Pledge, which contains copious amounts of silicones. Lots of old furniture has this problem and you can't get rid of it by just sanding, even to bare wood. I once refinished an old maple rocking chair that had been Pledged for years, but the gallons of stripper I used to get it to bare wood eliminated that problem.
 

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The silicone in furniture polish can go through the finish into the wood if someone uses it too often. All you can do in that situation is put silicone in your finish. If you go to a store that sells automotive paints they will have some kind of fisheye control solvent you can add to your finish. I use one called smoothie. Keep in mind the stuff is silicone so if you are spraying the finish do it away from other projects or wood. Also any sandpaper you sand the table with or between the coats sanding be sure to throw it away when you are done or you could get fisheyes on projects with new wood. You just have to take a little care with the stuff not to contaminate something else. I've had fifteen tables set up in a spray room before finishing them and sprayed one of them with a finish containing smoothie and not contaminated the rest of the tables.
 
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