Breathe easy! No maddening pop-up, sticky, or floating ads on this site :-)

Home /
Search 🔍
the Site
pub Where the world gathers for
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?


Amie Garehime
hobbyist - Denver, Colorado

TransTint Wood Dye
(many colors available)
(as an Amazon Associate
& eBay Partner, earns from qualifying purchases)

May 18, 2010

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 00 steel wool [adv: item on eBay & Amazon] 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!

rod henrickson
Rod Henrickson
gunsmith - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

(No "dead threads" here! If this page isn't currently on the Hotline your Q, A, or Comment will restore it)

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread -or- Start a NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to fully diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations might be harmful.

If you are seeking a product or service related to metal finishing, please check these Directories:

Chemicals &
Consult'g, Train'g
& Software

About/Contact    -    Privacy Policy    -    ©1995-2023, Pine Beach, New Jersey, USA