Looking for some straight forward advice

Hello all-
First I'll admit I am a novice at the whole woodworking thing but I get along ok.
Anyway I have designed a simple pine farm style plank top table to use as a extra large computer desk. My dilema is finish. I want it to be dark reddish walnut to harmonized with the victorian wood work in the room. I am however somewhat clueless about what product to use.
So heres my question is you wanted a dark, easy to apply, safe to use stain/varnish/sealer for a desk thats gonna get alot of use what product or combination of product would you use.? Ah before I sign off you should know I live in the boonies so I a bit limited to Lowes and Home Depot for choices. So please nothing too arcane.
Thanks in advance to the folks willing to help a new woodworker.
Amy ====================================================For great deals on fabulous jewlery and gifts check out www.crazycatgifts.com
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Pine, dark walnut color, new woodworker.
Stain - gel stain, sand any end grain to a much finer grit then the rest.
Stain/finish, Watco walnut Danish oil.
Finish, any will do but the above is probably the easiest most fool proof and will provide enough protection for a computer desk. Still stain end grain to a much finer grit then the rest of the table.
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Mike G.
Heirloom Woods
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I think Mike means to sand the end grain to a finer grit.
I like to use a pre-stain conditioner on pine, or a spit coat of shellac, especially on the end grain. Ed
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Hello again-
Gosh Mike and Preston I can't thank you enough for your suggestions.
As I may or may not I have mentioned I am a jeweler by trade. Working with wood is a wonderful new experience though vaguely familiar. :) In fact I am finding that most of the tools I work with everyday are here too just bigger and a wee bit louder. :) The biggest difference is the whole question of finishes. HD and Lowes seem to have a fair selection of choices but when I ask a clerk or look at a book I get so confused. I know this is because I am still learning but it can be so frustrating too.
A dear friend who knows wood way better than I ever will says the old woodwork in my home is pine. My house was built between 1891 and 1901. Since the exactly same woodwork is every house I have been in from the same era I can definitely believe him. Its so common here that it has to be something that was cheap and readily available back in the 1890s. I assume whatever finish was used was pretty cheap and easy as well. I am very lucky because our woodwork has been left original and unpainted. A lot of the Victorian houses around us were rentals and so the woodwork was painted many times. Now if I could only find a good way of mending the scratches left my a 100 plus years of residents without losing that marvelous chocolate walnut finish. Sigh.... well that's another project. Strange isn't how one tiny dyi leads to another.
Anyway the recipe of a conditioner, stain or dye, and a wipe-on varnish/polyurethane sounds like it will produce a finish that will harmonize with the woodwork. I assume the conditioner will make the pine more receptive to the stain and then the poly will make it impermeable to spills and easy to clean? I often eat at my desk and I am terrible about spilling stuff so that's a definite need. :)
On a happy note I spent my day building a 4x8" work table is the far end of my lab today. Even hung some new lights. Now I have a proper place to build and work wood. Tomorrow I will hit HD and my tiny scrap pile to practice that finish.
Can't wait honestly. My lab is such a nice cool place to work this time of year.
Take care- Amy ====================================================For great deals on fabulous jewlery and gifts check out www.crazycatgifts.com
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Sat, Jul 19, 2003, 9:45pm (EDT-3) snipped-for-privacy@nas.com (AM Pittman) says: <snip> Tomorrow I will hit HD <snip>
I've always had much better results dealing with Lowes.
Ace Hardware is also very good to deal with in my experience, plus it is about 8 miles closer, for me. Of course, you may prefer going to one near you, rather than the one I deal with.
JOAT Let's just take it for granted you don't know what the Hell you're talking about.
Life just ain't life without good music. - JOAT Web Page Update 19 Jul 2003. Some tunes I like. http://community-2.webtv.net/Jakofalltrades/JOATorJackOfAll/page4.html
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Amy-
Personally I like both Lowes and HD. My local ones are about a mile a part and are big on the $ matching. The nearest Ace is unfortunately over the mountains and in the next county some 30 miles yoder. HD seems to have better outdoor stuff and Lowes nicer hand tools and furnishings. Suppose I will just check both.
As you can imagen with a 100+ yr old home I spend alot of time dyi when I am not jeweling or writing html. :) I am a woman of many hats yes but my life is never boring. Strangely I never tire of giving this old house love. Some many of my friends and family thought we were insane to purchase the property. To much work they said. Build new they said. Ha! My house has character and now they are kinda jealous. I have learned more in last 2 yrs about historical contruction than I ever thought possible and I know there is so much more to learn. But I believe if I can figure it out then I dont have to hire somebody. And I am terminally frugal. LOL
I appreciate the observations about pine blotching and streaking conditioner or no. I currently plan to use 1 by 10 planks for the top of the table. So well see how that goes.
Take care- Amy
On Sun, 20 Jul 2003 01:53:37 -0400 (EDT), snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Jack-of-all-trades - JOAT) wrote:

====================================================For great deals on fabulous jewlery and gifts check out www.crazycatgifts.com
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I would add that, in addition to using a wood conditioner, you first really have to sand that thing. To keep from getting that blotchy look, we often sand pine to 320 grit. (120/150/180/220/320)
Lenny

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Preston Andreas wrote:

Pfah. I have a giant pine plant stand (my first large graph paper to wood project.) I went over every inch of that stupid thing with the pre-conditioner stuff and did everything absolutely by the book before staining it a dark walnut color.
It looks really horrible. Every variation in the wood (around screw holes, say) is darker, the end grain is darker, all the little knotty places are four shades lighter.
I built some other project without the pre-conditioner stuff, and it came out just the same. I can't see that the pre-treatment made the slightest bit of difference.
(Don't remember just exactly what procedure I used, as I built that thing years ago, but I was following the directions closely. At that point in time, I had done some fairly substantial refinishing that had come out well, and I was fairly confident of my ability to do decent finish work.)
YMMV, and a more determined and patient person might have had better luck, or maybe with dyes or gels or something, but for my time/money pine gets painted or varnished plain, but never stained.
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Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
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I've had the same luck. I love pine furniture so I comprimised. I now use cedar and use danish oil on it. To me, it gives it the pine look I want but takes the oil beautifully and it's a very stable and yet light wood.
Don

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You're pretty much right. Conditioner is only a small step better than nothing. I didn't want to confuse the issue with wash coats of one pound cut of shellac. It sounds like she is pretty stuck with Lowes or HD and may not have a lot of finishing experience, so I was trying to give examples of a couple of finishes that are easy enough to do and get satisfactory results.
For my part, sorry Jummy, I avoid pine whenever possible. It is hard to finish without blotching and it builds up resin on all my equipment.
Preston

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Make one of these.
http://lib1.store.vip.sc5.yahoo.com/lib/plansnow/circular-saw-jigs-Big.jpg
I made the one being used on the left. VERY easy and you could cut the left side for your jig saw or router. Got the idea from an old issue of shopnotes.

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