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Burl Slab Tables: The Finish

These coffee tables were tough to finish  because of the nature of the Mesquite.  Soft sections in the grain and bark inclusions forced the use of epoxy.  The dramatic swirls and curl in the grain often come along with challenging porous spots, loose bark, and pockets.

Progressive sanding from 120 up to 220 cleans the surface.

I begin with flooding the surface with Danish oil in a “natural” tint (watco), and let all the surfaces soak in the oil .  This allows the wood to take on a shine and illuminate the grain.  Re-apply this blend after an initial 30 minutes, and then wipe down any standing or excess oil.  Puddles left on the surface will leave a sticky film that will interfere with our topcoat.

Watco like other oil/varnish blends is mostly boiled linseed oil and as such you must allow it to dry before you proceed to your topcoats.  On a lighter use piece you may just go with 3 coats of a danish oil and that will suffice.  For a table that is bound to see cold drinks and more traffic, more varnish is called for.

In choosing to apply more protection comes the compromise of a more natural feel to the surface versus a surface that is slick with all pores closed with resin.  For the base and underside of the table I brushed on 2 wet coats of a Satin varnish (GF Arm-r-Seal ) and 3 wet coats to the top of a Semi Gloss (same).