plating, anodizing, & finishing Q&As since 1989
Top coat for oak table
May 17, 2010
I am finishing an entertainment center. I use an oiled based stain which was rubbed on. I was told to use a water based product instead of an oil based poly, but the 1/4 sawn oak wood's grain raised an awful lot when I applied it in a test area.
I have read about wetting the wood first or apply a shellac before the water-based product.
What is the best method of achieving a non yellowing topcoat?
hobbyist - Denver, Colorado
Concentrated NGR Stains
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Well I'm not a big fan of water or oil based stains but I guess because of my industry I'm a bit biased. True lacquer finishes do not stick well to oil and we are still forced to use lacquer once in a while. Both oil and water based stains are also hard to blend especially on highly figured or slab cut wood and both oil and water tend to raise the grain or (whisker) as we call it horribly bad. For nearly every wood finishing application I now use NGR stains =>
NGR is an acronym for Non Grain Raising. NGR stains are almost always some form of alcohol and although the wood still should be DE-whiskered it isn't as bad as water or oil. Water or oil will often leave wood looking like a terrified porcupine.
The simplest way to cure the problem no matter which stain you use is to simply rub down the wood with 0000 steel wool [affil. link] after the stain has completely dried. This will neatly shave off all of your whiskers. As far as a finish for oak most all of them will look and wear much the same. Tung or linseed oil will give a bit more luster but it stinks and takes forever to harden. Probably the best is Varathane Plastic Oil Sealer. It makes a good hard finish and it dries in a reasonable length of time. There are a million variations of Varathane by the way and every paint company sells their own. Ask the person at the local hardware and he or she will show you everyone's offerings. If it were me I would just buy on price as the patent on the stuff expired 200 million years ago and everyone seams to use the same formula but I use the Varathane name as that is the tradesman recognized name. Just like Ketchup!
gunsmith - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada