Fixing dents on bare wood

Hi there, I want to apply polyurethane (oil based) on my pine table top. The surface has not been finished, and due to daily use the surface has many scrathches and dents. Do I have to fix these scratches and dents before applying the finish? OR by applying polyurethane, the dents would dissappear as Poly would fill the dents. If I have to, using sand paper would be enough or I need to fill them out with putty? The wood color now turns to gold. Does sanding spoil the color? Any help/suggestion woul be highly appreciated.
thanks Fardin
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Please see my comments inline below...
On 15 Dec 2003 08:28:16 -0800, fardin snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (FardinA) wrote:

The finish is likely to make those dents look much worse...

The poly is a finish. It, indeed, may fill tiny imperfections, but it is not a "filler."

Any filler that you will use is likely to have color matching problems. You could well end up with the dents more, rather than less, visible.

Yes, the color that you have is likely to be eliminated by sanding, but with the application of a finish, some color will return.
I would suggest one of two approaches:
Is wood missing? By that I mean, are there dings where wood was actually removed from the table top? If not, it may be possible to improve things by steaming the dents out. Here is one technique: Wet a wad of rag, or tissue. Put it over a dent. Heat it with an iron (of the laundry sort) until there is a burst of steam. Often, the dents will no longer be visible. Most dents are caused by a "crushing" of the tubular structure of the wood. Steaming can often "re-inflate" that structure.
It is time consuming, but can work very well.
The other approach is to sand the table top completely. If you go that route, use a large sanding block so that you end up with a flat table. Otherwise, you may tend to sand more at the dents resulting in a very wavy tabletop...
When you are done sanding, you could apply a finish of your choice.

HTH,
--
Kenneth

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For smaller dings, use a soldering iron tip instead of a laundry iron.
The moisture will swell the wood, but it is likely some resanding will be necessary. And for larger dings it may take more than one treatment.
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If the top is not too wide, and if it is removable then perhaps you could use the Normite approach and take it to a shop with a wide belt sander. The wide belt will remove the imperfections and give you a very flat surface. Depending on the grit used you may need to do some light sanding with a R.O.S. using fine grit before applying finish. The sanded top will be lighter in color but avoid using stain unless color is very important. Pine usually does not take stain evenly and ends up looking "blotchy". There are ways to avoid "blotchyness" such as using a clear seal coat then toping with a finish that adds the color you want. Earl Creel

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