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Thread: Table Top Finish Choices

  1. #1
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    Table Top Finish Choices

    I'm in a quandary - finding a finish for a table top that will provide crystal clear clarity to sanded epoxy without burying the beautiful wood under a thick layer of high-gloss epoxy.

    This is what the top looks like after a coating of high gloss epoxy:

    I want to make the blue "lake" crystal clear, so you can see the depth. Epoxy does that but...

    My personal preference for the finish over the wood is satin. It lends an understated elegance to the beauty of the wood. High gloss, especially if it's thick, reminds me too much of a bar. And when it's thick, the epoxy hides the beauty of the wood.

    Today I tested spray acrylic over sanded epoxy. Problem is the acrylic on hand was gloss but it looked like the acrylic blended into the sanding scratches in the epoxy. Which got me to thinking, "What about lacquer?"

    If anyone has experience applying finishes over sanded epoxy, I'd love to hear what you've learned.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  2. #2
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    About the only way to get "water white" top coating is via an acrylic/water borne finish. I use Target Coatings products, but there are a number of good choices out there. You could try solvent based lacquer, but they often have a slight amber effect which over the wood isn't going to be an issue, but it might affect the "view on the lake", as it were. You'd want to test that, both for the visual situation and to be sure that the solvents in the lacquer do not interact badly with the resin that's already on the piece. Be sure you doing any lacquer work outside, too, since I don't recall you having a proper spray booth, and also be wary of using it on really humid days.
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  3. #3
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    Use a 2 part polyurethane clear. Get some from an auto paint supply shop. It will be water clear and UV stable so it won't go amber. It will adhere to your epoxy provided you give it a fine sand at 400 or so. You should be able to purchase a small quantity. As Jim said, make sure you have good ventilation and wear a good respirator when spraying it. Cheers

  4. #4
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    The waterborne lacquers I've used don't adhere well to at least some kinds of plastic; I use plastic dropcloths to protect the shop floor when I'm spraying, and the dried lacquer just flakes off. Dunno about adhesion to epoxy.

  5. #5
    Can epoxy be rubbed out? Abrasives may be your ticket. I like both micromesh and Abralon.

  6. #6
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    I have a feeling the thickness of the epoxy coating is what's giving the appearance you don't like. A satin coat might help, but you'll still have that smooth, non-textured look and feel to it. Can't hurt to try it though. Otherwise, I'd find a shop with a wide belt sander (or some way to take it back to bare wood) and start over with a satin varnish without building it up too much. In my experience, a wiped-on or brushed finish will look much better over that blue epoxy lake than a sprayed finish.

  7. #7
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    Thank you, guys. I've been experimenting with the finishes I have on hand. Results have been so-so. I didn't have any spray can lacquer to sample though.

    Oil based varnish was a bust. No surprise there. Acrylic is iffy as it didn't hide all the sanding scratches, but I need to try satin instead of the gloss. WB finishes over the blue epoxy don't adhere. They puddle together. Sanding to courser grades (under 240) and they don't hide the scratches. I tried applying the table top epoxy thinner but the wood still looked like a bar top or table in a restaurant. Shellac was also a bust.

    I'm going to head out today and see what else I can find at HD. Thanks again!
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  8. #8
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    You might also want to drop a line to Jeff Jewitt at Homestead Finishing to get his thoughts on what you can use to achieve the goal you have. This may require buying something that you're not going to find at the 'borg.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  9. #9
    I have been doing a little more reading on this, and I bet that you would be able to successfully rub out your epoxy finish.

    I especially think this a good approach given your problems applying shellac or oil varnish on this.

  10. #10
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    Julie, Jim is pretty close to the mark when he said that you will most likely have to look beyond the big box retailers. A water clear finish that will adhere to the epoxy is a common enough industrial product but not a common retail product. Hence the suggestion to look at auto paint suppliers. Automotive clears are fairly low in solids but water clear so that the same clear can be used on any coloured vehicle without causing colour matching problems. They are also UV stablised so that the vehicle doesn't go yellow with time.

    Industrial polyurethanes tend to be higher volume solids and while water clear, will probably add too much film thickness and that is not what you need.

    Furniture finish polyurethanes are an option as you will be able to get one in satin fairly easily. They tend not to be quite so clear though so brand selection is a chore.

    To keep the film thickness down, Prashun's suggestion has merit. You will need to ensure you don't sand through the finish. It will produce a flat surface though which you will have to decide as to whether it is acceptable or not.

    Spraying or hand application - its your choice as it doesn't matter otherwise. Done correctly you can't tell the difference. If you can tell the difference, something is wrong with one or both techniques. Cheers
    Every construction obeys the laws of physics. Whether we like or understand the result is of no interest to the universe.

  11. #11
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    In my experimenting I've added "borg quality" finishes because I can pick them up and sample them the same day. For most "serious" projects, I've primarily used General Finishes products, with the exception of the guitars, where I use Behlen String Instrument lacquer. I have a quart each of Target sanding sealer and EM6000 spray lacquer I've never opened, going back to when I was looking at changing to a WB lacquer for the guitars. They are probably 4-5 years old now.

    Maybe I do need to contact Homestead and ask Jeff what he thinks. He's been pretty helpful in the past.

    BTW, Watco lacquer clouded the epoxy. I didn't bother breaking out the Behlen because it's gloss, plus I wasn't ready to do all the prep and cleaning on the HVLP just for a test that I wasn't feeling too confident about. My get tells me I'll find epoxy the only way to get crystal clear over the blue lake center.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  12. #12
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    Time constraints won the day. We're hosting a block party next month and I need to get that table top out of the shop so other projects can take place.

    Yesterday I took the whole top down to bare wood (and epoxy) starting with the belt sander at 80 grit. The next pass was with 100 on the belt. Then the RO at 80, 120, 180 and 240. This morning I opted to use the Ecopoxy. It's thinner than I would like but that other stuff is way too thick, so I'll have to do at least two pours. That's six days of curing. But at least I'm no longer taking any steps back.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

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