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Thread: Recommendation for heavy wear desk top finish

  1. #1

    Recommendation for heavy wear desk top finish

    I built this table during Covid as I transitioned into a full time WFH employee:


    I like the look of raw maple and the walnut accent I put in the top. I did not want it to "yellow", so I applied several coats of Polycrilic. I applied this with a brush, and probably did it a little heavy. Fast fwd a couple years later, and where my mouse and keyboard are, the finish has "gummed up" for lack of a better term. To the point I've scrapped the finish off this area altogether. I plan to take the desktop apart, scrape the whole thing, then re-finish sand. The question is what finish to apply to this that will stand up to the oil from my skin and mouse movement, keeping in mind I'm trying not to get the piece to yellow either.

    I have a HVLP gun at my disposal, though I am admittedly not the greatest with it. I also really don't like finish work, so I'm looking for something that is easy and pretty idiot proof. Thanks for any suggestions you may have.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Rubio Monocoat or Osmo Oil will give you a very natural look, hold up well, is stupid simple to apply, and is easy to repair, if needed. Keep in mind that the maple is going to mellow (yellow) with age even w/o finish on it. If you want a true film finish, I'd look at GF's Enduro Conversion Varnish. TC's has a decidedly yellow cast to it so I'd stay away from that one.

    If you want a bulletproof surface, put a piece of glass on top. Yeah, I know, terrible to work on, but it's bulletproof.


  3. #3
    +1 on the Rubio Monocoat. I made a hairpin table/desk out of some 1.5' thick local red oak, finished it with Rubio Pure. It's my work computer desk, covered with typical work debris, and the finish has held up very. I've even used Rubio in non-recommended ways and it works/looks surprisingly well. And as John pointed out application is a breeze.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Fairbanks AK
    I have tempered glass cut to fit over the shellac finish on analine dyed oak dining table that came to me via G-grandma Pauline, originally purchased c. 1905 by her uncle Bill.

    On the other side of the swingset, I have some QSWO about to get glued up into a tabletop to specifically test "bleach finish" as in I will wash the panel down with hot soapy water 2-3 times daily, and wash the otherwise unfinished surface with hot soapy water with 10% bleach added weekly or so. I have not noticed bleach finish on maple while reading up on oak, but worth a look.

    I find that I am surrounded by pictures of too perfect wood grain, printed on glossy paper, and applied to commercial and retail surfaces all over town. I don't want my stuff to look perfect or over perfect. I do want my stuff to look good, but it is more important to me that my stuff look and be honest.

    I am not sure of how to keep maple from yellowing with time. I have turned a little maple, and it requires exquisitely sharp tools on the lathe, for (in my eye) minimal benefit compared to hickory or white oak. I suspect minimizing UV exposure is an important step in keeping maple bright white, but I also strongly suspect there is more to the story.

    I do expect fresh maple would yellow considerably with the application of any oil like hemp oil or tung oil.

    Good luck and best wishes. The walnut inlay in the pic looks really nice to me.

  5. #5
    Target EM8000CV with crosslinker is my go-to finish. I have had great luck with it on my kitchen table and kitchen island and guitars. This does not yellow. You have to let it cure before you subject it to any chemicals, but it's about as good as a finish I've found. It's easy to spray via HVLP.

    More durable products include solvent based wiping varnishes like ArmRSeal or Waterlox. But these have an amber cast and need to be wiped. But they are easy to apply.

    I haven't had long term experience with Osmo Polyx but it is about the easiest of all the finishes to apply.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the suggestions. I ended up going with the Rubio Pure. Its drying/curing now, hopefully I can get it back in the house tomorrow. Going with a piece of cut glass wasn't goign to work. I have mounts in the top for the monitors and the TV that hangs off the other end. Hopefully this holds up well, it was stupid easy to put on.

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