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Thread: Waterfall Bubinga Table Finish

  1. #1
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    Waterfall Bubinga Table Finish

    Well. I am finally almost done with this beast of a project. I am at the point where I am going to spend the next few days scraping and sanding the top, finish sand evertyhing, mount the top, and finish. The clock is ticking for me to get started on a crib but I don't want to rush this project.

    I bought Waterlox Sealer/Finish to use to build up the base coats and then use the Waterlox Satin as the last two coats. I have heard that about 7 or 8 coats are required and I am dreading applying the finish on the chairs. I just have the cheap Rockler HVLP but know plenty of people that can help me learn to spray. Also bought the set oil brushes off of Tools for Woodworking/Gramercy thinking I wouldn't even try to spray the table itself and wanted the highest quality brushes I could find.

    This brings me to my questions. Sorry in advance for the length of the questions.

    1) Has anyone sprayed Waterlox and what results did you get from spraying it? I know most will say don't try it but...
    2) Phenolic resis is supposed to yellow the most over time of those making up varnishes according to Flexner. I am talking about the yellowing from the resin itself yellowing and not the ambering that the BLO/tung oil imparts on the wood. Does anyone have pieces of furniture made out of a light wood like maple they could comment on/post a picture of that has been completed using Waterlox and over a few years old? Does P&L #38 pop the grain like Waterlox and is it as durable/repairable?
    3) How many coats would you do of the sealer / top coats if Waterlox is what I was to move forward with? I applied 2 coats on some test bubinga and have to say that it seems like I would need at least 4 to get good coverage. I want a satin / natural finish while making the grain pop.
    4) A fine woodworking article titled "Wiping Varnish: The only finish you'll ever need." showed a regiment of wiping Waterlox on but according to the Waterlox site they say to use nothing more than a brush. I am concerned that applying such a slow drying finish to the vertical surfaces will prove to be challenge. Especially with all of the spindles in the chairs. Any thoughts on the "right" application method?

    Fine Woodworking Article: http://www.finewoodworking.com/Mater....aspx?id=33891
    Waterlox Application Instructions: http://www.waterlox.com/assets/pdfs/...uide-FINAL.pdf

    5) Sorry. Last one. Would you fill the pores? Seems like Waterlox has a self leveling nature to it that lends itslef to not needing to fill the pores but I could be wrong.




    Table.jpg

  2. #2
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    Your white wood, whatever it is, will not stay white in any case as it will darken with age. My dining chairs are of ash with wipe-on poly varnish finish. After 9 years they've yellowed a bit but then I expected that and have no problem with it. I did only three coats, so it wasnt the finish that yellowed.

    I have a maple coffee table 15 years old with a poly finish. The color hasn't changed much, is more amber than yellow.

    Around my house people are pretty tough on table tops. For a dining table top, I would only consider poly for its toughness. For a table top you want the pores filled and if you try a water base filler it will change the color of the bubinga and I don't think you'll like the result. If you are looking for a perfectly smooth, high gloss finish its going to take you 5-6 coats of varnish with heavy sanding in between. You might want to try grain filling with shellac first which could cut the varnish to 3-4 coats.

  3. #3
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    Personally--- I don't look at the # of coats-----you keep them thin and let each one dry. repeat until you get it right.
    Yellowing---a lot of that comes from the item sitting to close to sun light..
    For what you are building I would not be a big fan of Waterlox, I would go with polly, but that's just me.
    ---I may be broke---but we have plenty of wood---

  4. #4
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    Gary, why poly vs Waterlox?

    Mike,

    Waterlox Sealer/finish is essentially a wiping varnish. The satin is full strength. For the chairs wipe-on will be almost fool-proof, although spraying would be faster, it may not be as error proof. P&L #38 is an alkyd resin varnish that will not yellow much at all over time. Either the Waterlox or the P&L #38 would be excellent for the table top.

    For the chairs and table legs 6-9 wipe-on coats would be more than enough. You don't HAVE to sand between coats of either of these varnishes. (Poly you must sand so it will stick) For the table top and the seats of the chairs I would brush on a few coats then sand lightly and wipe-on 2 or 3 final coats.

    To properly wipe on a varnsih you should wipe it on as the kid at the fast food joint wipes the table just before you sit down. A large table top still should not take more than a few minutes. All you want is a damp coat... Waterlox will still take a hour or more to be dry to the touch. Once it's dry to the touch you can wipe another coat. I don't do more than 3 wipe-on coats per day.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  5. #5
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    I have done a dining table with Waterlox and love it. Walnut, and I sealed with dewaxed shellac, and then starting wiping - 7 coats on 8 chairs and 10 coats on the table top. Love it!
    Sawdust is some of the best learning material!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Holmes View Post
    Gary, why poly vs Waterlox?

    Mike,

    Waterlox Sealer/finish is essentially a wiping varnish. The satin is full strength. For the chairs wipe-on will be almost fool-proof, although spraying would be faster, it may not be as error proof. P&L #38 is an alkyd resin varnish that will not yellow much at all over time. Either the Waterlox or the P&L #38 would be excellent for the table top.

    For the chairs and table legs 6-9 wipe-on coats would be more than enough. You don't HAVE to sand between coats of either of these varnishes. (Poly you must sand so it will stick) For the table top and the seats of the chairs I would brush on a few coats then sand lightly and wipe-on 2 or 3 final coats.

    To properly wipe on a varnsih you should wipe it on as the kid at the fast food joint wipes the table just before you sit down. A large table top still should not take more than a few minutes. All you want is a damp coat... Waterlox will still take a hour or more to be dry to the touch. Once it's dry to the touch you can wipe another coat. I don't do more than 3 wipe-on coats per day.
    I just use more poly so I have better results. My post was not intended to be negetive ,but what works best for me. I have a couple of tables that required as many as 20 coats to get the depth that I wanted.
    ---I may be broke---but we have plenty of wood---

  7. #7
    It's not a formal style of table so a filled pore finish is not really a necessity in fact I think that it would detract from the slab top. If you have to wipe on more than 4 coats of anything you're using the wrong finish or the wrong technique - period. We have so many finishes to chose from these days there's no need for wasting time with 20 of anything - unless you like wiping that is. It's a table top, it'll see wear. Use a durable film finish, the dry film thickness is up to you but more finish equals less bubinga glory. Varnish, sprayed, brushed and sanded between coats or 4 wipes and deliver. I would spray and be done with it. I would also leave the grain open, it will accentuate the bubinga, not detract from your project. Nice job by the way!

  8. #8
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    The problem with a dining table with unfilled grain is that you get food and gunk into the unfilled pores and short of using a brush to clean it, you get dirt build up in the pores and the top will get ugly looking. Bubinga is only moderately grain porous and is rather easily filled, but bubinga does not have a lot of chatoyance so a non gloss finish IMHO fails to bring out the beauty of this wood, whereas a high gloss finish is pretty spectacular.

    A few years ago I did an informal trestle table of red elm, a very open grain like oak. I filled the grain with varnish and a squeegee wiping across the grain, sanding between applications. I think it took five coats. The final two coats were brushed on, wet sanded and then machine polished to the luster I wanted.

    Why did I do it this way? Because there was no way I could escape from the dust problem and get a perfect finish.

  9. #9
    As you point out Harvey, bubinga is not a deep porous wood. Open finish would clean up just fine.

  10. #10
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    Great points Chris and thanks! Through mortises were quite challenging to keep tight. I think I have tried every technique and bought every tool to make a mortise and tenon at this point. Fun learning.

    I have had a lot of luck with the Sam Maloof Poly/Oil but when you build 4+ coats of finish it does have a slightly plastic look. I don't know of the quality of the poly in the Maloof branded mix and everyone seems to have good luck with Waterlox so I wanted to go with something proven durable yet repairable. That is the key for me because I have one young little monster (I mean Angel!) and another on the way. The first fork/knife mark in the table is going to make me cry.

    As you can tell I am new to woodworking but willing to play around and experiment but only within the confines of proven, premixed finishes at this time.

  11. #11
    Mike-
    I am coming into this thread late.

    I've used a fair amount of Waterlox. It will turn yr maple amber/yellow/golden. Some may not like it; I think it makes it look warm.

    The Waterlox site may not say to wipe, but you certainly CAN wipe it on. In fact, it wipes on about as well as it brushes: that is, amazingly well.

    Note, that the Original Sealer is pre-thinned to wiping consistency, and is darker than the fullstrength products - like the Gloss or the Satin finish. Those will require thinning if you choose to wipe them on. Wiping satin can be tricky; thinned, the flattening agents want to fall out of solution quickly.

    If it were me, I'd try this: just use the Original Sealer on the whole thing - top and legs. Wipe it on like Scott says: thin; don't lay it on; think 'slick and quick'. It will take more coats on the top than the legs to achieve an even sheen, but persist. Once the sheen is even (it will be too glossy for you), then let it cure for a week or two. The gloss well settle down somewhere in the semigloss range. If you decide you want to dull the finish further, then you can think about wiping on a coat or two of satin (or rubbing).

    Wiped thin, your top may require little to no rubbing out, and you'll have amazing depth and clarity with ease.

  12. #12
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    Just providing an update. Have 3 brushed on coats so far and am amazed that it has not fully covered anything yet. Still need at least another coat or two before I think it will have a consistent look. I don't really have the time to wipe on/wipe off but am going to switch over after this coat because even with the best brushes I could find I am not getting the smoothest finish. Figure a good sanding with 320-400 after lettting it set up for a couple days before adding anymore material will be a good idea. Luckily I am learning all of this while working on the bottom side of the table first before working on the top of the table.

    Thanks for the advise so far. Once I apply the next coat and it dries I will post some pictures. Pretty amazing figure when wet. Can't wait to get this done. My wife can't either because as I mentioned I have to get cracking on the crib. Needless to say the crib will not be getting a Waterlox finish because of the time to cure and amount of time it takes to really build the finish. Going to try the Enduro-Var on that project.

  13. #13
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    Mike, are you using the Waterlox Sealer finish or the regular original finish? The sealer finish (a wipe-on) will take many more coats to fill because there is more thinner and less varnish. I would think by the 3rd brush on of the regular varnish you would have a reasonable fill by now...
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  14. #14
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    Hey Scott, Yes. Using the Sealer/Finish. The fourth coat went on pretty well. I am thinking that at least another coat (5) before it starts really sealing/leveling and 8-10 before it is smooth. That is A LOT of finish. Have to run back to Woodcraft this weekend because I already almost went through a quart and haven't started on the chairs or the top side of the table.

    As for wiping on this finish, one thing that everyone should know is that it dries tacky very quickly. I am finishing in a room that is 70 deg w/ 43% humidity and good airflow. Very upset individual when I wiped on the first coat as quick as I could on the base and went back to wipe off and it was already tacky and would not wipe off without a touch of mineral spirits. Decided to just let it be and I am going to have to sand the entire base with at least at lease (really most) 320. I am thinking that if you have a larger project you need to thin it down by about 10-20% before it will wipe on/off easy before it starts getting tacky. Going back to the brush to finish it up.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  15. #15
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    Mike,

    I don't know where the "Wipe-on wipe-off" advice started; but it's NOT how you apply a wipe-on varnish. Wipe-on and leave it alone. That top top shouldn't take more than 5 minutes. Wipe it on like the kid wipes the table at the hamburg joint THEN LEAVE IT ALONE!

    Wipe-on and Wipe-off is most likely a miss used application technique for an oil finish (not oil based varnish) or possibly an oil/varnish blend.

    8-10 wipe-on coats is minimum for the table top. Expect about 3 wipe on coats to equal one brush on coat.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

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