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Can y’all help me out? What is the best finishes to use on a dining room set? Im thinking varnish, any suggestions?

kevin's kreations

Behlen Rockhard( &Behlens Rock Hard Table Top Reducer for this finial refinishing) like Waterlox Original-is made using phenolic resin. Phenolic resin is quite a bit darker or more amber than alkyd or urethane resins. Alkyd and urethane, or a combination of both, are the most common resins used in varnishes. They produce a lighter less amber finishing product. The advantage to phenolic resin is its hardness when fully cured. Both Waterlox Original and Behlen’s Rockhard produce very hard finishes. To carry this to the end, Waterlox uses tung oil as its drying oil and Behlen’s uses linseed oil. The linseed oil is slightly more amber and the tung oil is slightly more water resistant. If a light colored varnish is desired, Pratt & Lambert #38 is made with alkyd resin and soya oil. This product looks nice on light colored woods like maple and birch.

Because of their hardness when fully cured, both finishes can be “rubbed” to a high gloss. Let them fully cure for 3-4 weeks and then rub them out to whatever degree of sheen you like.

Wipe-on finishes, whether a home brew or a commercial product, produce a thinner film finish per application. To end up with the same film thickness as a brushed on finish, addtional coats must be applied. In addition to being a thinned product, Minwax Wipe On contains some other chemicals to “bulk it up”. These chemicals tend to produce a less durable finish.

Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

Thank you for the great information it will help a lot when i go to chose my finish. A friend of my wife wants me to refinish her dining room set. The set is made from maple.

kevin's kreations

Are you looking for a spray application, or brush/wipe-on?

We use Valspar conversion varnish on all our table tops. It is a catalyzed product that gives excellent durability, but it has to be sprayed.

Artisan Woodworks of Texas-

I’ll echo everything Jeff said. I’d go with a varnish, but I’ve found the P&L 38 to be pretty durable, almost certainly enough so for a dining table. That said, there’s no doubt that a phenolic varnish is about the most durable available, so if it’s film toughness that’s the #1 concern, it would make a fine finish.

"I long for the day when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" Merle Haggartd

Thanks Bill, i do not have a sprayer. But i will keep that in mind. On the P&L how many coats would you recommend. I’ve heard if it sets up really hard not to put to many coats it will crack when the wood contracts.

kevin's kreations

Behlen’s Rock Hard Tabletop Varnish
is very resistant to, alcoholic beverage spills, abrasion and water rings,

It has been blended and modified to produce excellent protection while still retaining all the good qualities of varnish like ease of application by brushing and a beautiful amber color.

Only available in gloss, it can be rubbed to achieve any sheen from satin back up to gloss. Rubbing should be done after the last coat of varnish has been applied and all the coats have had time to cure, meaning all the solvent in the varnish has evaporated. This could take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks, depending on how many coats you have applied, temperature and humidity. If you are not sure, wait as long as you can before you start rubbing.

If you wish to reduce Behlen’s Rock Hard Tabletop Varnish, you must use a special reducer that has been specifically formulated for it, (Behlen’s Rock Hard Reducer). I have always found that reducing varnish helps it flow out better, it also true for this varnish. I generally reduce the first one or two coats 50/50 (1 part varnish to 1 part reducer). This acts as a sealer and prevents the other coats from penetrating too deeply into the more soft or porous areas of the wood, thus giving you a more uniform sheen. Sand lightly between coats with 320 grit paper and make sure to wipe off dust before you apply the next coat. After the sealer coat(s) are applied, I reduce all other coats about 20 percent (4 parts varnish to 1 part reducer). Three or more coats are usually necessary, depending on how porous the wood is. Once you have a uniform sheen, no additional coats are necessary, but I like to apply 1 more coat after this. Remember to sand lightly between coats with 320 grit paper and make sure to wipe off dust before you apply the next coat & wait as long as you can before rubbing out the top.

Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

With the P&L, I have a coffee table i built maybe 10-11 yeas ago, and put P&L on it. This table has endured my cave man habits (feet upon it, food, etc.) and still doesn’t have any damage on the top. Anyway, 4 brushed coats of any of the good varnishes should be enough for the top (fewer for other parts), depending on how much you thin it. I usually do what Jeff suggested, the first one is 50/50; after that thin it in the area of 20% (+/-). I brush this on with a “badger hair” brush and get good results usually waiting 24 hours between coats.

"I long for the day when coke was a cola and a joint was a bad place to be" Merle Haggartd