Finishing Suggestions

I am in the process of removing the finish from a dining room table as the finish has become worn in spots. Table age is in the 25+ year range and is a solid 4/4 oak top. My question is suggested finishes for the final product as I have to finish it in place, by hand rather than spray the finish.
Current color is something akin to Minwax golden oak (have a matching hutch I would like to get close to, otherwise I will end up refinishing that also). I know a lot of people do not like the product, but it has served me well for a number of projects. Stain will be oil based, basically because that is all I have used thus far. From there I am at a bit of a loss as what to do for a top coat. All of my experiance thus far has been with oil based poly, brush for something small, spray for larger pieces. For obvious reasons I would prefer to use something that can be brushed and built up as needed, has time to lay flat and hopefully will not have a wide learning curve.
Ideas. suggestions, favorites?
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?

I'd use poly. At least four coats. After the final coat, let it cure for at least 2 weeks. Wet sand with 600 grit, rub with pumice, rub with rottenstone, apply paste wax. Admire.
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OK.. this should be fun. I will wait for the screeches of horror...... !!!!
If you are familiar with Minwax products and your confidence is high on its end product, <<by all means use the Minwax poly>>. Years ago, it rated better for reflectivity, abrasion resistance, and water resistance than the paint store or Woodcraft offerings in one of the well respected woodworking magazines. I believe it.
With that in mind, I have used it on several table tops, and it works like a charm. And I put it on wide, open, flat tops, I pad the finish on with one of the green and white pads found at Home Depot. They are cheap, and made to be thrown away, so you dispose of them after each coat.
http://preview.tinyurl.com/49jdsh6
No thinner fumes, no cleanup, nothing. Let the pad get completely dry, then toss it in the trash. A 6" wide flat pad will give you a gorgeous final product. Seriously, it will look sprayed.
You can also find smaller foam brushes (or regular brushes) for legs, sides, etc. I have now seen Leon's work first hand and he is a proponent of the foam brush with poly. His finishing is top shelf, so it obviously works well.
The largest project I refinished with Minwax was a conference table. The smallest is a desktop or a large dining room table. Two of them are still in client's houses, and the desk and dining room table are wearing like iron after years of use.
Two coats of clear gloss poly followed by one coat of semi gloss/satin will do you on the top and vertical surfaces. Since oil poly has so long to lay out, it will look factory with just a small amount of effort on your part if you are careful in your application.
Robert
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Might I also mention that the above mentioned brush works extremely well for applying latex paints, flat and gloss. Great for flat surfaces like interior slab doors. Not so good with oil based paints, especially the glossy wood trim. I use the small 1" diameter closed cell foam rollers for large flat areas when using oil based paints.

CORRECT!
http://www.woosterbrush.com/Catalog/DIYBrushes/Maintenance&Promotional Scroll down to the last brush, the Foam King. This is the foam brush that I use with liquid oil based varnishes, it is quite capable of being cleand with thinner and reused several times. Tyically the brush holds a lot of product and 2 coats is all you need with most applications. Available at Lowe's. The towers bedroom project was finished with a gel varnish. That was applied with a "cheap chip brush?" and wiped down with a rag, 4 coats IIRC. Normally I apply gel varnishes with a rag but the brush was used to save time, applying with a rag will give you a smoother finish.
These were done with the foam brush and General finishes ArmRSeal, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lcb11211/4332857960/in/set-72157622991960362 / http://www.flickr.com/photos/lcb11211/4332119051/in/set-72157622991960362 /
BTY we really really enjoyed seeing you and Kathy after Christmas. We really needed a break from the moving, and we still have stuff to move. Good thing Bryan is not in a hurry for us to clear out. LOL. The 1792? certainly got my attention.
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On 1/12/2011 7:47 AM, Leon wrote:

Fitting reference (1792) in a finishing thread ... prolly make a damned good thinner as well!
<g,d & r>
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On Wed, 12 Jan 2011 01:03:05 -0500, "Ed Pawlowski"

<insert SCREECHES OF HORROR here><repeat><repeat>
Now what do you do with the witness lines left from sanding through a coat of poly, Ed? </moot point> Poly is for peasants. ;)
Steve, half a dozen hand-rubbed coats of Waterlox Original Satin would look grand, last well, and be much more easily repairable. (Or be a teensy bit pickier and use half a dozen hand-rubbed coats of Waterlox Original Gloss, then a final coat or two of Satin. Naily and I are alike in our love of a less glossy finish there.)
Strip it to nothing, then wet it. That's about the color Waterlox will give you, or maybe a bit more amber, like your original EA coloration.
While Waterlox can be rubbed out, I wouldn't put wax anything which would get wet with food or drink, either. You're just asking for white rings from it.
-- The United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world. -- Ayn Rand
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wrote:

For a garage based finish I would STRONGLY suggest a wiping poly. You can buy it in a can or thin regular solvent poly (not water based) with mineral spirits. You need to thin it about 3 to 1 spirits to poly. Mix well and remix as you use it. The can will say not to thin beyond some percent but ignore that. You can use any sheen. Gloss shees won't start to gloss up until 5 or six coats.
Use whatever oil stain you like and let dry for several days. Flood the surface with thinned poly and wipe around and kind scrub in the first coat and then within a minute or two wipe down using smooth portion of rag that is partially damp already leaving a super thin but even film. Let dry 4-24 hours. Subsequent coats don't need so much flooding but start realy wet and finish by smoothing to a thin film. After the third coat start to do a light but complete hand sanding with folded and slightly used 400 paper. Wipe the dust off with spirits. Do maybe 10 coats this way. Don's sand the last coat. Use steel wool and wax.
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I would suggest a gel varnish top coat. It's learning curve is next to nothing, put it on with a rag, wipe it down with a rag. Recoat in as little as 2~4 hours, no prep between coats, setteling dust is not a problem as it is dry to touch in <10 minutes typically. The trick is to apply and wipe off with a clean, "soft" and dry wiping rag. Stiff rags will leave streaks with application and removal. Because you wipe off the excess with each coat you get "thin" coats. That is bad because you may need to apply as many as 10~12 for a thicker durable finish. That is good because the surface tends to look like it was strayed on, with no brush marks.
Work small areas as you absolutely don't want the applied coat to become tacky before wiping the excess off. The first coat tends to take about 10 minutes for a typical table top, Remaining coats tend to take about 5 minutes including clean up. Clean up is cleaning your hands if you get any on you.
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Leon,
Sounds very do-able with a low learning curve. No problem over a oil stain? any material/manufacturers recommendations? Any interation with a sealer coat(which I was planning on using)
SteveA
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Steve I have been using this stuff over oil based stains since about 1989. The best brands that I have run across are Bartley's and Lawrence McFadden, (LMF). LMF bought out Bartley's stain and finish division and then after being in business for 50 + years went out of business a year ago.
I have used General Finishes Gel Varnish, and Verithane Gel varnishes with pretty good luck. If you can find anyone that has the first two mentioned I feel you would have a better product. The General Finishes should be readily available from Rockler and or Woodcraft.
I have never ever used a sealer coat, however I see no reason to think that there would be a problem.
To reiterate, don't make the task hard, wipe the gel varnish on over an area about 18" square and then "immediately" wipe it off. Repeat a few hours later. You will quickly get the hang if it. If you find that you missed a gob, you can apply more varnish to that spot and it will melt down after a couple of minutes, so to speak.
Practice with a few coats on a scrap and you will become an expert.
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Thanx again
SteveA

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All the suggestions are good. The one thing that I would suggest is to use a miled stripper. One that will only lift the top (clear) finish and only have a minimum effect on the stain. You may not have to stain If you decide to use a satin finish, do not build the satin finish, build first with a clear gloss and sand between coats, if you build a satin finish, it can be milky or hazzy. Use the satin only as the final coat.
Joe M.

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I than everyone for some very good thoughts on the path I should take. I will review every suggestion and formulate a plan to attack this. HAving continued to sand off the old finish and stain, I have discovered a seperation in the op at the opposite end of the table from which I usually sit, so once I have it rough sanded, I will have to address this issue. Since I will now have to take the top off, my finishing options now become wide open, as it will be small enough sections to transport away from the base (now 2- 4x4+/- with the 2 leaves).
I am not planning to refinish the base, just the top so this should be a plus, as I will probably be looking at opening up the split on the table saw and then glueing them back together, using a thin kerf blade should minimize dimension loss on the top.
Again, thanx all
SteveA
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