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Wood question. After sanding table and before sanding . . .

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Wood question. After sanding table and before sanding . . .

Old 04-12-2009, 04:17 PM
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Default Wood question. After sanding table and before sanding . . .

. . . before staining that is, what should I wipe the table down with?

We got a nice dining room table however it needed to be sanded and refinished. I just finished sanding it, 60-100-150-220. Now I just need to wipe it down before we stain it. What should I wipe it down with? Tack cloth? Is a damp cloth a no-no? I have no idea what kind of wood it is, but after using the 220 grit, it is smooth but I know it needs to be clean before staining.
Old 04-12-2009, 04:28 PM
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Depends on the type of stain you're using. I use oil-based stains, usually clean the surfaces with a clean rag soaked in paint thinner. I let it dry for about 20 minutes, then start staining. For waterbased stains, I have used tack cloths, and also a clean rag dampened (almost dry) to remove the dust.
Old 04-12-2009, 04:32 PM
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I like denatured alcohol. No residue and evaporates instantly. You could also use plain mineral spirits (paint thinner) with a cotton rag applicator, turned often. I sold paint and varnish at retail a lifetime ago (early 1960s) so my memory may be going.

A "tack rag" http://www.thesuperhandyman.com/tackrag.html is basically a cotton rag with sticky varnish. It might tend to seal the wood pores before staining. Mineral spirits is the solvent for oil-based stain and won't change it absorption qualities into the wood.
Old 04-12-2009, 04:48 PM
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You guys are great, thank you so very much. We/the wife and I, will have to figure out what we'll be finishing the wood up with and go with what you have mentioned.

What would be best for a dining room table? Oil based or Water based?, or is the difference like asking what would be a better house paint, oil or latex? Almost like asking which outboard is the best, ha!
Old 04-12-2009, 05:27 PM
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It's real tempting to go with water based finishes due to ease of use and cleanup but for this application I'd really recommend an oil based product. It absolutely has to be water proof to be practical and despite what the manufacturers may tell you a water based finish just doesn't provide the protection of an oil-based product.

Another problem with water based finish is that the water in the product (the solvent) is going to soak into the surface of the wood and it will effectively raise the grain on your table top. If you don't knock this raised grain back down with fine sandpaper to where it's smooth and level again the table top will never smooth out. A oil based product will not raise the grain as a water based product will.
Old 04-12-2009, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Rascalsdad View Post
It's real tempting to go with water based finishes due to ease of use and cleanup but for this application I'd really recommend an oil based product. It absolutely has to be water proof to be practical and despite what the manufacturers may tell you a water based finish just doesn't provide the protection of an oil-based product.

Another problem with water based finish is that the water in the product (the solvent) is going to soak into the surface of the wood and it will effectively raise the grain on your table top. If you don't knock this raised grain back down with fine sandpaper to where it's smooth and level again the table top will never smooth out. A oil based product will not raise the grain as a water based product will.
What he said.
Old 04-12-2009, 05:47 PM
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I like to clean stuff with alcohol also.
Old 04-12-2009, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by t3rockhall
I sold paint and varnish at retail a lifetime ago (early 1960s) so my memory may be going.
^ it explains so much Rock...

-thanks also for the advice y'all.
Old 04-12-2009, 06:26 PM
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Rascalsdad et al, thanks again. I spent 2 good hours today sanding this table top and it came out great. Here is a pic of it in the basement, just need to wipe it down with the thinner and get the stain sometime this week;



We'll definitely be going with oil-based as it definitely makes sense. The good part is that we got the table from my wife's co-worker, for free, well, we did get them 2-$25 gift certificates for where they like to eat out as I'm sure the table costs some money new. I about fall down every time the wife takes me to the furniture stores from the prices. Makes the boat stuff seem like a bargain. But great points on the waterproofness needed for a dining room table. Thanks again. I swear, the first place I always think of to ask a question is always THT. Besides boating/fishing related questions, y'all know some stuff and I'm always grateful for the help.
Old 04-13-2009, 05:29 AM
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Ben, I have the ability to build that table, but I am by no means an expert on finishing or refinishing, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I can't really tell what type of wood that is by the pic you've provided....a few close up shoots would be of help.

But, what I do know is, most of the finish is still on that table. Any finish you apply is only going to be sitting on the top of the finish that is already there. You will be getting a compounding effect happening. If you are trying to match what is showing down below (legs/ feet) you will have a much harder time in doing so because you will be applying a finish over top of another finish.
Really what you need to do is sand that top right down to 100% wood with no original stain/ finish showing. By doing that, whatever stain/ finish you put on the table top will have a much better chance of it matching your legs/ feet.

Generally speaking, sanding down any wood to a 220 is to fine a grit for stain to penetrate the wood. Yes the wood might feel nice and smooth but there isn't enough exposed pores to properly except the stain/ finish. "If" that table of yours is Oak (?) I would only sand that down to 100 grit, 150 max. The stain has to penetrate the wood. If the table is maple I would sand it down to 80 grit, 100 MAX....but I don’t think the wood looks like maple.

Raising the grain of wood generally only happens once. Chances are the factory that built the table raised the grain before they finished it. But it's no big deal if they didn't. Sand the table down to bare wood and then take a pretty wet cloth and wash down the surface, so what if the grain raises, that’s what you want to happen. If the grain does raise just let the table dry for a day then just give the surface a light sanding over. All you want to do is knock off the grain fibers, you do not want to sand into the body of the wood. By intentionally raising the grain you will not have to worry about what stain you use or finish.....the wood will not re-raise the grain.

I too like denatured alcohol for wiping down the wood just prior to staining....it removes any surface oils that are natural or from your hands. The alcohol also opens up the pores which allows the stain to enter the pores of the wood at a deeper level. IMO this is especially important for a table that will except hot bowls or wet glasses. It is bad enough you damage the surface of a table from heat or wet glasses, but it is worse yet if the heat or wet is raising the stain as well!

Again IMO the best finish you could apply after you have stained is to apply a dozen coats of Tung Oil. Yup it’s a lot of work to hand rub 12-15 coats in, but the finish and it’s durability will astound you! And "if" you ever do have a problem with the finish because of heat or wet glasses the finish is 100% easily repairable by you. Oh, and Tung Oil, is probably the Best finish for standing up to repelling wet glasses and spills. Lacquer or poly finishes will not hold a candle to the brilliance Tung Oil will give to the wood’s grain!
Old 04-13-2009, 05:37 AM
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I guess I should add.
In your pic above it looks like you have sanded the edge of your table top more than the flat surfaces. Well if you don't sand down the top down to 100% wood, the areas that you have sanded down past the original surface those areas will except stain/ finish differently then the other areas you have not sanded as deeply. This Will give you a blotchy finish.

Old 04-13-2009, 05:44 AM
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Another amendment.
If that table of yours is Oak, what I'd do after preping it out and staining it, I'd then apply a grain filler. By doing that it will make it 10 times easier to give you a 100% sealed barrier.
Old 04-13-2009, 05:58 AM
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If you ever do it again start with a product called 5f5. Its a stripper that you put on and let sit a few minutes. Then scrape it off with a good scraper. Sandvik makes good ones but they were bought out last year by a new company. I cant remeber the name. They have orange handles. After doing this the sanding will take 15 minutes or way less with the first pass with a random orbital sander.
Old 04-13-2009, 12:11 PM
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The picture is totally deceiving. All I sanded was the very top of the table, the big flat surface which has NO finish on it at all. Between the flash and my digicam taking crappy indoor pics, it looks like the varnish/stain is still on about 2/3 of the table, but it is totally down to bare wood.

I am a knucklehead as I've already sanded the table down to 220 and it is smooth as smooth can be, I was impressed with myself for getting it that way. Should I go back and hit it with 100?

I left the rest as only the top needed to be done.

I listen to all y'all because I know NOTHING and rely on you guys for help and sure do appreciate it.
Old 04-13-2009, 01:07 PM
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Yah I'd knock that done to 100 grit Ben. You can use a power sander for that. Just sand in the direction of the grain, do not sand across the grain, that will show on your finished project.

After you've resanded, water washed the surface, let dry, you will be able to feel if the grain has lifted any. A raised grain will feel like, how do I put this, it will feel not smooth....you'll know. At any rate, if the grain has raised, lightly hand sand the surface with 220 grit.....remember all you are doing is scuffing off the fluff.

What I like to do next is wash the wood done again, but this time I'll only use a damp cloth. Rinse your cloth often, you want the damp cloth to pick up the dust, not spread it around and fill the pores of the wood. Then I'd let it sit another day, then feel the surface. If any grain has raised I'd lightly scuff it again with 220. Then I'd wipe it down with denatured alcohol or lacquer thinners, then I'd apply a sanding sealer, let dry. Then I'd give the surface one last very light scuff with 220, wipe down with denatured alcohol or lacquer thinners then stain to suit.

What the sanding sealer does is causes the stain to penetrate the wood more evenly. Woods like pine or maple are notorious for not excepting stain evenly.....the end result is a blotchy finish. When this happens one can either dick around trying to blend the screwed up areas in or strip the stain and start over, but this time with a sealer as the first coat. Oaks are pretty good for excepting stain very evenly.

Are you familar with grain fillers?
Old 04-13-2009, 03:22 PM
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Default A question....

I have this EXACT same table. I bought it from a fella about 7 years ago. It was new, but, missing the main support that the 4 smaller supports attatch to, as shown in your photo. I knew this when I bought it, was going to build something, but never have. I paid $75.00 for it. It's really an awesome table! It has two additional extensions for the middle, and has gear rollers when you pull in open, it geys quite large for a BIG gathering! I have the 2 extensions, and 4 of the leg supports.
My question, from looking at the photo, it appears that there is one main support, or, leg? missing. There seems to be a stool on the opposite side holding that end up. I was going to take the table to a friend of mine who is a fine carpenter & get him to build two main supports, so, my question is, are the support coloumns at the very end of each part of the table? How are they attatched underneath? Any chance you could snap a few photos of underneath so I'll have a better idea of the original design??? You could PM me for my email, or, post it here, but, ANY help is very appreciated! Thanks!
Old 04-13-2009, 03:58 PM
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Garett if you keep adding he will finish that table and post some pictures and you would think a pro did it. I second the post Garett made. The grain will pop up and make for a fuzzy finish so make sure you sand it good. I use 80 grit then work up to 220or higher with a ramdon orbitor sander and then hand sand after I do a sand and seal with 220 or higher. If you do use tung oil you will have a very fine table to show off. Good luck and remember a hand finished product take TIME!!!!!!!
Old 04-13-2009, 04:34 PM
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I second the Tung oil. Makes a very durable, repairable and gorgeous finish.
Old 04-13-2009, 05:58 PM
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Garret and others, thank you 1,000,000 over. My wife has the week off next week as she teaches 2nd grade and will be doing the rest of the sanding, prep-work and the finishing. Yes.

Here are some close ups of the wood. If you can tell what kind of wood this is, like CSI, I'll be . . .







Agent86, here are some pics of the underside.

There is only one support, the one in the pic. It is on the end because in order for us to get the table in and out of the basement/garage easily, I left the support/legs off.

It is held onto the base with 8 screws. There is a piece of wood on the very top of the base which is secured to the base with 4 bolts or lag screws. If my wife were with me downstairs, I could have gotten a pic of underneath a lot better. Let me know if you need more detail and I'll help.





Old 04-13-2009, 08:12 PM
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THANK YOU! I think I get it...the board that is secured to the main post is attatched to the part of the table in the center that stays mobile when the table is pulled appart to add the extension...right? So, since I have that board, and the leg (4) braces that support the post, all I need is for my friend to fabricate a heavy duty post of proper hieght, hollow on the inside, I think, to allow the 2 threaded studs on each of the 4 legbraces to slide through & reach into & bolt secure....right? Sounds simple enough, BTW, your table is looking great!

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