Good wood for beginner coffee table

My son-in-law is just getting into woodworking. He has a small workshop in his basement. He made an Adirondack chair for his mom and me for Christmas, which turned out very well. The design is excellent. The construction is good. The finish is a little rough.
Now he wants to make a coffee table for us for the TV room. We have settled on a general design. It will be square, about 32" x 32" (maybe a bit larger), square legs, glass top inset into a wood frame, with a shaped edge and a short skirt (if that's the right term).
The room has some wood trim that looks like oak stained a medium brown. The cabinets are wood painted white.
I have been suggesting that he use oak for this project, stain is a similar color to the wood trim in the room, and put on a lacquer finish. He has a new compressor and spray guns for the lacquer.
Is this a good choice for him? Are there other woods that he might consider?
Any other comments or suggestions?
Thanks
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My first project was Oak. An entertainment center. The reason I used Oak is because I had salvaged a bunch from a job site I was working on. Sooo, I guess what I am saying is if he has any good wood deals going, use that. Otherwise, if he has to purchase wood, Oak is a wonderful wood to use. Make sure and tell him to use a nice sharp blade! Good luck on the project. SH
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Yeah - as a newbie too, I'm learning that the finishing takes as much work/art/experience as the construction! Kind'a frustrating to successfully navigate all of the major hurdles in construction only to realize the hurdles in finishing are just as large!

I've been sticking w/ Oak for my learning experience. It's a less expensive hardwood so the costs of errors are reduced. It's plentiful and available in wide widths. It stains/dyes well so finishing is less of a challenge. In the end, if the peice turns out well, it's with a wood that I prefer over something like poplar.
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wrote:

A glass top makes finishing much easier. A perennial finishing problem is resistance to spilled drinks, or to hot mugs. Glass is an easy way to avoid this.

"apron", usually

Oak would work, but it's quite hard to work. Ash is nice, looks similar, softer to work and is hard to tell apart if you're staining them.
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It's as good a choice as any and, more importantly, will match the decor. It doesn't make much sense to make a piece of furniture for a room that doesn't match the rest of the room
Now the lacquer may be another story. It's a good finish but if you are talking nitrocellulose over water based you had best have EXCELLENT ventilation and he had better be wearing a respirator. The lacquer and the thinner is an explosive hells brew of toxic petro chemicals until it cures. You do not want a cloud of the overspray and bounce back floating around where people are breathing and you have heaters and such making sparks and what not.
Water based, on the other hand, is as good and much safer to spray..
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Mike G wrote:

Unless the rest of the room isn't walnut, and you're making a piece out of walnut. You can't go wrong with walnut. :)
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It
doesn't
Perhaps you should clarify this. Do you mean if one piece of furniture is dark stained oak the rest must be?
Or do you really mean that the decor should harmonize? No lime green chairs with chrome legs when the rest of the furniture is Colonial style. Ed
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Take your pick
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On Wed, 7 Jan 2004 17:58:35 -0500, "Mike G"

It's been a long time since I finished anything. The lacquer I used then was definitely not water-based. I don't recall the term nitrocellulose, but we needed lacquer thinner.
Does water-based lacquer spray in air guns about the same?
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Nitrocellulose lacquer is almost certainly what you were familiar with.
Get the right viscosity and needle/nozzle combination and, yes water based lacquer sprays about the same as nitrocellulose. The owners manual for the spray gun should give you the appropriate spec's for the gun on the above.
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On Thu, 8 Jan 2004 09:40:16 -0500, "Mike G"

The spray guns 20+ years old, like my experience. Owners manuals, if I ever had them, are long gone. I think I might be able to just experiment. It's his first project and he needs to practice on scrap anyway.
Thanks
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Well, if you were spraying nitrocellulose with that gun before the needle/nozzle combination should be ok for water based poly. You will have to to experiment with the controls, air and fluid, to get a good mist and you may or may not have to experiment with the viscosity.
I doubt the last though, water based usually sprays pretty well as it comes out of the can.
Note, if you are unfamiliar with water based finishes don't be alarmed if it looks milky when you open the can. That is normal and it will dry clear.
Further note, a respirator still isn't a bad idea though just a particulate mask will work.
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On Thu, 8 Jan 2004 17:10:01 -0500, "Mike G"

Sounds good. We'll give it a try.

I recall that if I applied the lacquer when te ambient temperature was under about 65 or so, it would go on cloudy and stay that way. Does the water-based lacquer have the same problem?

Good idea.
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I haven't had any trouble with blushing with water based finishes. I think most blushing is caused by humidity rather then temperature and you shouldn't have a problem at 65 degrees.
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On Fri, 9 Jan 2004 09:19:41 -0500, "Mike G"

Is that what's it's called? (blushing)
About 15 years ago, I got a local cabinetmaker to take me on as a kind of an apprentice. I would go over there when I could and he would give me odd jobs to do as I learned the trade.
After a while, I started making some projects on my own. I set up a small shop in my garage. I had a compressor and a couple of spray guns. One day, I was applying lacquer in the garage. It was about 60-65 outside. This was in San Jose so fairly low humidity.
Anyway, the lacquer went on very cloudy, almost milky. I called the cabinetmaker and he said it was too cold to spray lacquer. He told me to wait until a warmer day or heat the garage, then reapply and it would be OK. That's what I did and it was fine.
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Yes, when lacquer is sprayed and the finish looks milky it's called blush.
The haze is caused by the sprayed mist picking up excess moisture from high humidity air. Think water ring on a table..
Nominal best spraying temp to avoid premature or slow cure is 70 degrees and you were only 5 degrees under that and I've sprayed in a greater range with no problem so I don't know what to tell you about your experience and I can't agree with the local cabinet maker
However, if it happened and you are not comfortable spraying at 65 degrees that's good too, spray at 70 degrees. Like chicken soup, it can't hurt..
Good luck Mike
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Oak is cheap for hardwood and not that difficult to work; it's a great choice if you like the way it looks.
Lacquer will look nice, but it is not the best choice to protect the wood against hot coffee cups, condensation on the bottom of cold soda cans, or spilt alcohol. A lot of folks like Behlen's rock-hard table top varnish for that purpose. Maybe encourage your son-in-law to go to the library and check out a book called Understanding Wood Finishes. It does an excellent job comparing the protective qualities of various finishes.
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