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Thread: Behlen Table Top Finish

  1. #1

    Behlen Table Top Finish

    I am considering using Behlen Rock Hard Table Top Finish on a project. Has any one used this before? Did you like or dislike it? Is it a really high gloss finish? Any input is appreciated, thanks Matt

  2. #2
    Check with Steve on this site. I think he's used it a lot.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Shoreline, CT
    I like Behlen Rockhard. It does need thinning--10% is a good starting place. Once that is done it flows well and cures to be quite hard (it's a phenolic resin varnish) and durable. Use a good brush, not the 8.95 special (this helps with all varnishes.)

    I use the Reducer sold to go with it, though I'm not at all sure than ordinary mineral spirits wouldn't work OK. It is a gloss varnish, but if you let it cure for a while you can rub it out to just about any sheen, from high gloss to the low end of flat.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Hendersonville, NC
    I have used it on three projects -- I left two with the high sheen and with the last one, I rubbed it out to 800 grit and it has a beautiful satin finish. I apply it under correct temperature conditions using a very good bristle brush and thin the first coat 50:50 with Behlen's Rock Hard Varnish Reducer. I agree that 2nd and 3rd coats can be cut 10% with reducer for better flow -- it is thick and prone to get bubbles in it (use light brush strokes with brush held nearly perpendicular to surface to minimize these). It is essentially impervious to water and exhibits great depth. Used it on ribbon cut African Mahogany and a countertop 22" wide x 78" long of wavy Bubinga -- and it came out awesome! I recommend it highly.
    Rob Payne -- McRabbet Woodworks

  5. #5

    Do you have any idea what is different between Behlens and Varathane? Is it a different ratio of resin?

  6. #6
    When you rub out the gloss with the 800, is this wet or dry? After you rub it out do you clean with a cloth and your done or do you add a wax? Thanks for the help fellers.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Shoreline, CT
    It is more efficient to do it wet, but safer to do it dry. (Safer because you see the effect of the sanding more clearly and are therefore less likely to sand through.) That 800 grit will be not very glossy, definately in the satin range. Wax would change the appearance, but require regular renewal. It's purely an aesthetic choice.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Shoreline, CT
    Yes, it is a different resin. The Rockhard uses phenolic resin. The Varathane most likely uses a combination of alkyd and polyurethane resins. The polyurethane resin make it "tougher" in the sense of resisting heavy abrasion. That is toughness gained by softening the finish so it deforms rather than scratching. But the polyurethane resin is likely to be a little bit cloudy, increases problems with adhesion, and make rubbing out more of a challenge. Since we don't walk on furniture with our shoes on the polyurethane isn't needed in that application.

  9. #9
    I started to rub out the finish last night with sandpaper, and it is not turning out very good. It just looked like the gloss finish, but with many years of hard use. Also when I sanded it really showed where I had bubbles in the finish. I need some help!! Any ideas to get a semi gloss or satin finish?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Matt, you need to use compounds to rub out the finish, not sandpaper. The latter is too coarse and just scratches as you've found out.

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

  11. #11
    That makes a lot more sense. Are you able to get the compound from the auto parts store, or is there a special kind? Thanks for the help!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Shoreline, CT
    I do usually start with sand paper, but nothing coarser than about 600 grit, and then mainly for knocking off dust nibs and defects. I usually wet sand but until you have done it a few times it is safer dry sanding becasue you can really see what is happening and avoid cutting through the top coat more easily. I then progress to about 1200 grit before shifting to the compound (auto store compounds will work fine--you want to start relatively fine--not coarse rubbing compound. Actually, I'm old fashioned and tend to use fine pumice on a felt pad, lubricated with parafin oil, to go to a satin sheen.

    I was looking at dates on the posts in the thread and it looks like the Rockhard has only had about a week to cure. It will get harder, and therefore easier to rub out if you wait two or three more weeks.

    By the way, bubbles mean either that you didn't thin quite enough, or that you didn't "tip off" the varnish after brushing it on.

  13. #13
    Thanks for all the help guys, I will keep working on it!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Escondido, CA
    Steve, what does that mean to "tip off" the varnish? Is that like a final few strokes with a fine brush?
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  15. #15
    Tipping off is taking the brush you are using to apply the varnish and while holding it vertically making a final stroke with very light pressure with the grain of the wood to "pop" the air bubbles.


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