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Old 10-21-2016, 06:30 AM   #1
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Refinishing a table

I have a table similar to the one pictured. The varnish is cracked along the edges. I want to sand and varnish and refinish. My questions are the following. What type of finish did Main ship use on these tables? Will Helmsman varnish be a good product to use to refinish? I have seen similar tables that look to be made of the same type of wood on dozens of boats. Wasn't sure since it's a marine application that I should be using something special?
Thanks Jeff.
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Old 10-21-2016, 08:43 AM   #2
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Are you going to strip it down to bare wood and start over?

Or just strip the bad spots, build them up and then add a coat or two to the whole table?
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Old 10-21-2016, 09:08 AM   #3
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Good question. I just wanted to touch it up if possible. It has a mirror finish but I noticed the edges were cracked. If I need to totally sand off the old finish I can. Maybe it would not look as good as it does now?
Jeff.
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Old 10-21-2016, 10:05 AM   #4
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You can varnish it. Can't imagine a finish that varnish won't adhere to w good cleaning and sanding. Just read what it says on the can. And prep well. Then follow application directions.

I'm curious to know what Mainship put on the table. I would think it would be a fairly hard finish to be scratch resistant. In normal usage there's plenty of opportunities to scratch a dining table top.

I'm in the process of refinishing our dining room table at home. I finished it years ago w poylester FG casting resin. One pours on the resin w hardener mixed in and then put a big piece of mylar over the resin and table top. Then using a roller on the top of the mylar rolling the resin underneath out to all surfaces of the table. I was concerned about the hardness of the finish and thought it would be all scratched up fairly soon. It lasted decades .. very well but I refinished it this last week. I used a different product called Mirror Coat by System Three. An epoxy product I'm quite sure. Used a roller and brushes (no mylar). Was easier than w the mylar but still a fussy thing to do. I can see why they call it "Mirror Coat" ... it's VERY shiny. But I already suspect it may scratch more easily than the polyester casting resin. All I need to do now is finish the edges of the table. I'm using Epiphanes varnish for that. Harder than most varnishes (I think) but much easier to use and touch up than the epoxy Mirror Coat.

I was going to just use the Epiphanes. Wanted to do the mylar thing but decided on the Clear Coat after hearing about it. Much easier application. My job is not perfect. There were some cracks on my table top that leaked down so there's a few little negative "puckers" and some (very few) bubbles that can be seen. Not bad at all though. I'll be happy if it indeed is scrath resistant. It's marketed as a bar top coating. That would need plenty of scratch resistance IMO.

Varnish should be fine for your boat table and can be easily touched up. For varnish try to find one that is harder than most. I think Epiphanes is. High oil varnishes (like my favorite .. (McClosky)) .. Is a high oil product. More flexable but also softer. A high oil varnish would not be best for a table top. Too soft.
I present all the above for general interest and in the event that you want to get involved and use Mirror Coat you have a reference and some heads up on what's involved. Also (as always) there may be many more out there that may be interested in this finish. By the way I got the Mirror Coat at Fisheries Supply.
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Old 10-21-2016, 11:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jskinner30PII View Post
Good question. I just wanted to touch it up if possible. It has a mirror finish but I noticed the edges were cracked. If I need to totally sand off the old finish I can. Maybe it would not look as good as it does now?
Jeff.
I would not use old school varnish on a table. There are just to many better alternative finishes that stand up better to water, alcohol, abrasions, etc.

If it truly has a mirrored finish, the finish was most likely sprayed on and/or polished out after it was applied.

With out seeing what you are dealing with its a bit hard to give advice. But in my opinion if you want the table to look as goods as new you would be better of letting a profession refinish it.

Unless you have done a fair amount of refinishing yourself in the past.
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Old 10-21-2016, 04:59 PM   #6
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If it is just cracking along the edges, how about using some clear Loctite, Devcon, Gorilla Glue epoxy in a tube and run it into the cracks with your finger. It will look glossy and ought to flow and seal the crack.
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Old 10-21-2016, 05:31 PM   #7
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How old is your boat? Unless the finish hasn't stopped curing, ie less than a couple of years old, it will be inert, so once you have sanded enough to give it some tooth for the next layer to hang onto, you can use whatever you like for the new finish. For interior tables, my go to is a polyurethane "varnish". It is tougher than a pure varnish, doesn't stain with water or alcohol spills, and a gloss finish will give a decent shine. You can buff it for a better shine.

So sand around the cracking, fill with a clear or appropriately coloured filler, wait for it to cure, then prep the whole surface and finish it.
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Old 10-21-2016, 06:33 PM   #8
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I made a table for my previous boat, finished it with Polyurethane it turned out fine, and tough.
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Old 10-21-2016, 07:55 PM   #9
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Finally something I can contribute to on this forum. I'm an amateur woodworker and have built many tables. Finishing is an art I have yet to master but it is by far the most important part. The first thing anyone does when they see a new piece of furniture is touch it. If finished poorly it immediately leaves a bad impression.

It is very difficult for an amateur to "touch up" a failing top coat. I would recommend sanding to bear wood. Stain to desired color. Before wiping off the stain, sand the wood with 600 grit sand paper until you build up a slurry of stain and sawdust. Gel stain works well in this application. Wipe off the stain evening out the color as you go.

Let dry and top coat with high gloss, wipe on polyurethane. Wipe on is thinner than conventional poly and dries faster. While it takes more coats to build up, the faster drying time prevents dust and nibs from forming in the finish. For the amateur, myself included, wipe on will provide the ability to lay down a glass smooth, sprayed on looking factory finish.

3-4 coats at a minimum sanding in between coats with 600 or 800 grit sand paper. Vacuume the dust, use mineral spirits on a cotton cloth as a TAC cloth then re coat. Yes it sounds like a lot of work and it will take a few days to allow for drying but a small table will go quick.

This end table I built of cherry is finished in the manner described.

Good luck!
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Old 10-21-2016, 10:39 PM   #10
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What do you use to "wipe" on the finish?
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Old 10-22-2016, 07:24 AM   #11
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Wipe on with a clean, lint free cotton rag. I pour the poly in a small bowl. Fold up my cloth then dip a little in the bowl and then wipe on with the grain. I go the length up and back, then dip again and repeat.
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Old 10-22-2016, 09:07 AM   #12
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Scott,
Sounds awful messy and a bit/lot like oiling.
Omitted but I assume you use rubber gloves .. or?
If not what solvent do you clean your hands with?
Your table looks like the nice hand rubbed furniture I'm used to seeing.
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Old 10-22-2016, 10:47 AM   #13
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Lovely work, scott2640.

Agree re: good to use tougher finishes than traditional varnishes, but they'd do perfectly well.

Oiled and wipe on finishes are easy to do and not messy to do. They won't yield a high shine, glassy finish. I prefer the appearance of the satiny sheen.

High gloss is more often the result of spray application. Can be done with roll and tip, or brush, given more skill than I have, and an utterly clean, dustfree workplace.

I'd be worried about the cracking at the edges of your table. Why there? bad finish, swelling veneers? Remember how pianos look after many years; the sprayed lacquer alligators. My gut reaction is to remove all the finish.

For fun, and for scott2640, here's a bedside table I made, finished with wiped on Tung oil. I don't use the drop leaves; they're to relate to an identically-sized antique. I've since changed the pulls to brass.
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Old 10-22-2016, 12:56 PM   #14
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There are satin and high gloss versions of wipe on available. Not to messy. I generally fold my cloth into a neat 3x3 square or so and dip one edge in the poly, leaving the other edge dry. Everything cleans up with mineral spirits.

This is our dining table I finished with gloss wipe on poly. The gloss which I generally don't like but does provide for a more durable finish with the increase in solids content definitely has a more nautical feel. Sorry it's upside down, it happens all the time on various forums when the pictures are taken on my iPhone. Not sure what the solution is.
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Old 10-22-2016, 02:59 PM   #15
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scott2640,
Nice table indeed.
I cut a pice of mahogany plywood to cover that table (previous post) and was just going to varnish it. Just before I was going to varnish I pulled up the ply and used the Mirror Coat. I am varnishing the edges. Two coats so far. Quite likely would have done the rub on had I seen your post a few days earlier. Thanks for the info. I always associated rup on w oil. And when I used oil on my cap rails in Alaska I used a brush there too. Guess I like brushes. My wife likes those foam things. I've only used one once.
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Old 10-22-2016, 06:48 PM   #16
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You need to post pictures of the failing surface. Repairing a wooden antique often requires removing all of the old finish/polish, avoided if possible to maintain originality. Is the table veneered, has the edge banding veneer failed, or is this an edge without veneer? The grain of the top surface could be matching veneers.
As to applying varnish with a cloth, french polish is normally applied to larger flat areas with a cloth pad, in a polishing motion.
I`m sure the answers will zero in on a fix if you post pics.
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Old 10-22-2016, 10:38 PM   #17
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Hard to envision a lint free cotton rag. I didn't think such a thing existed.
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Old 10-23-2016, 12:32 AM   #18
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Hard to envision a lint free cotton rag. I didn't think such a thing existed.
A cloth pad is the traditional way to apply french polish in a vigorous circular motion, you won`t see bits from cloth on fine antique furniture, it must exist.
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Old 10-23-2016, 05:09 AM   #19
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For true 'lint free', use old 100% cotton T shirts that have been washed many times. I use the blue paper shop towels sold in the box stores with good results. The best, if you can find them, are the old style cotton diapers. IMO
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Old 10-23-2016, 10:45 AM   #20
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A cloth pad is the traditional way to apply french polish in a vigorous circular motion, you won`t see bits from cloth on fine antique furniture, it must exist.
Polish and varnish not really the same thing though.
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