Best finish for Oak kitchen table?

My oak kitchen table (about 15 years old) has a finish that is almost worn off, and has become very stickey and hard to clean. So, I sanded the top with an orbital sander.
What finish should I put on it, assuming it will get a lot of use, spills, and kids abuse? I want to use a clear, easy to apply finish with good wear resistance...any ideas?
Thanks!
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com writes:

My red oak dining room table has just poly on it. I use a floor-grade poly from Sherwin Williams, figuring anything designed to be *walked* on is strong enough for a table. It's held up fine for the last, um 10-15 years (I forget exactly when I built it) with two kids beating on it every day.
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On 19 Sep 2006 10:12:49 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I know it may offend the sensibilityes of the true wood workers but I will second the opinion on poly. I used poly on my maple counter tops and they are doing great several years later.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Make it three for a kitchen table.
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B A R R Y wrote:

I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to finishing anything other than a military gun stockset!
This poly you speak of...where and what should I get? Also, does it spray on, brush on, etc? Does it show brushmarks, do I have to put many coats on? And, is it safe for my 2 year old to eat off of?
Thanks again! Andy
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

You can get it anywhere that sells paint. The big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes will certainly have it, as will many smaller places.
You're looking for polyurethane finish, and it can be oil or water based. There are many different brands, such as Varathane, Minwax, etx.

Yes. <grin>
For home use it is commonly brushed or wiped. It can also be sprayed.

The oil based stuff shows fewer brush marks than the water-based (but you have to use mineral spirits to clean your brushes). You would generally do at least three coats, four might be better for the top surface.

Pretty much any common wood finish is safe to eat off once it is fully dry.
Chris
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...and remember, it's best to use a polyurethane varnish that has a gloss finish because gloss is harder and more durable than finishes that contain a flattening agent (e.g., semigloss, satin, flat). If you decide you want a semigloss or satin final coat, at least use gloss for the undercoats. You can also rub a gloss out to a semigloss or satin if you wish.
--Jim
wrote:

surface.
dry.
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Actually, I used three thin coats of semi-gloss for my table, and it's held up fine.
But I agree that gloss is harder. I just don't want all the scratches to show ;-)
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I have never noticed a different in hardness between a gloss and less glossy finish. As far as durability the gloss is going to scratch easily compared to a simi-gloss. I would like to know where you go your information concerning the hardness comparison.
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I used the Minwax version of the wipe on poly (gloss) this spring on my oak table top and it turned out great. Three coats with steel wool and tac cloth in between each coat.
So far it's held up with no problems, no water rings, and no scratches... and it's me SWMBO and three munchkins abusing it on a regular basis.
A nice bonus with the wipe on that I found was the limited odor. I did the project right in the dining room in the evenings after the wee ones were in bed and it didn't fill the house with any fumes.
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com writes:

Polyurethane Varnish

I get mine at the local Sherwin Williams store. Don't get the fast drying stuff! For this, it's better to take your time and let it do its thing without the chemicals needed to fast-dry.

I use a good bristle brush. Poly is common; look for brushes that say "for polyurethane". If this is the only project you're working on, it might be easier to buy a couple inexpensive brushes (not cheap, just inexpensive) rather than dealing with the chemicals needed to clean them properly. You can probably get away with the 2" or 3" wide foam brushes if you don't move the brush too quickly.
Alternatively, you can sometimes just wrap the brush in plastic wrap between coats, if you're using an oil based poly. I wouldn't rely on it, though.

The first coat or two might have bubbles or some minor brush strokes, but you're going to sand those anyway. The last coat should be fine, but stick with thin coats - it's not paint ;-)
The trick is to stick with thin coats, and slow-drying.
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DJ Delorie wrote:

Uh-oh. I just finished putting on 3 coats of Minwax fast-drying spray poly in satin! Can I lightly sand, and put semi-gloss over it at this point?
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One of the easiest finishes would be a wipe-on poly. MinWax and others offer it in most big-box, hardware or paint stores. You prepare a very smooth surface (thorough sanding to 220 grit) and wipe on several coats. It will add a slight amber tone to your oak so you might want to experiment on the side. If you need to stain to match remaining table use an oil based stain which will also seal. Sanding is important because the wipe on finish will not hide any sanding marks.
The wipe on poly builds slow so a table top might require four our more coats with a lint free rag (T-shirt scraps are great). Good news is that in reasonable humidity it drys to recoat in a few hours. Sand out dust and imperfections between coats. You won't have to worry about brush marks.
It is close to being an idiot-proof fininsh. That is why I use it.
RonB
wrote:

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My first choice would be a conversion finish of some kind...like a precatalyzed lacquer. However, if you're not set up to spray, a good polyurethane would do the job.
todd
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If I were you I wouldn't use the water-based poly. When it gets wet it shows up water marks horribly, not mention it feels tacky as well. I'm a store mgr. for Sherwin Williams and have used these types of products on several occasions, not to mention recommend them everyday. If you have the ability to spray and want the most durable finish possible, we have a water white conversion varnish that will provide the most resistance to common household chemicals and provide a furniture grade water white finish. If not spraying, brushing on 2-3 coats of oil based poly. By the way, the poly for floors is not any different than the regular Minwax poly, it just dries a lot faster. If your wanting to wipe it on, don't use the "for floors" version. It dries too quickly to be wiped on. Hope this helps.
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I recommend General Finishes Arm-R-Seal varnish. Available form www.woodcraft.com and www.rockler.com . Apply with a GOOD quality foam small cell brush. I use Wooster brand foam brushes sold at Lowe's. These brushes will yield a great finish with little to no brush marks and can be cleaned and used over and over. Do NOT buy the typical foam brush.
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