How to finish a bentwood shaker box to be used as cake stand

by Theresa
(Huntsville, AL)


Q:

I have a bare bentwood shaker box I would like to stain in a medium finish. Do you have any recommendations on which product/s I should use?

I would like it to resemble the attached photo. Thanks!

A:
You can use any sort of stain you like. I often use minwax brand, although I have had good luck with other brands as well. The main thing is to put it on evenly. If your box is made from a wood which tends to blotch when stained (pine and cherry for example), you can use a pre-stain conditioner.

The pre-stain usually goes on right before staining, with the stain applied while the pre-stain is still wet. The pre-stain soaks into the areas that cause the blotching and helps even out the stain.

I recommend a clear top coat on top of the stain. Wipe on poly is a good choice. It goes on easily and dries quickly so you can put on several coats. I usually put on a least three coats of poly.

Make sure the finish is well dried before it comes in contact with food. Great idea for a cake stand.

Have fun!

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Sanding through polyurethane into wood finish

by Kris
(San Angelo tx )

Q: I'm pretty new to wood working but have general knowledge. As my first project I decided to sand down and re-stain, refinish a heavily worn coffee table (about 4 1/2 to 5 ft).

I sanded the whole thing with a sanding block or just by hand as I really don't have any tools, needless to say it took a really long time to sand the whole thing (I used 60, 100 and 220 grit sandpaper.)

As I needed help I just gathered as much info as I could from different websites. There's a few issues I encountered that I can't really find a good answer to.

1. I disassembled the coffee table to be able to thoroughly sand the whole thing. After sanding the small front sliding door I realized its a different type of wood/material because it has a plastic to it.

The edges around the top part of the coffee table (about two inches wide.) seem to be a different type of wood as well, after sanding the whole top I noticed the wood on the inside of the attached two inch border pieces was darker than than the border.


2. After finally selecting the right color stain/finish (I used miniwax Sedona red 222 wood finish which I applied using a foam brush after thoroughly removing all dust.) all the pieces took the stain in very good aside from the small front sliding door. So after drying for the recommended 8 hrs I applied a second coat to the door and touched up other areas that needed it.

After everything was dried I wiped them down with a clean t-shirt material shop rag removing all dust. I then applied a thin layer of miniwax fast drying polyurethane clear gloss per recommended manufactures instructions. I let it dry for around 10-12 hrs and began to very lightly sand with 320 grit sandpaper to remove small bubbles or dust that had settled on during the dry time as recommended.

After sanding the middle of the top piece I moved to the edges but as I was sanding I noticed it looked like I was sanding through the polyurethane into the finish so I stopped. It only appears to be doing that on the edges of the top piece.

I literally set the sandpaper down and moved it along in the direction of the grain but it still appeared to be doing the same thing.

Should I completely sand down and redo only the edges or is there a different method requiring less time? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

A:

Wow. All that sanding takes patience. I’m impressed. It sounds like you’re doing a good job. I actually wouldn't worry too much about sanding through the finish on the edges.

If you only put on one coat of finish it may just be that the edges soaked it in more. I’d continue with your light sanding to remove the dust, then refinish the whole thing. I often use the wipe on polyurethane and it generally takes at least three coats to get any sort of build up. It’s not unusual for me to go as high as seven coats.

If you are using a brush, make sure you apply the finish sparingly. It is much better to put on several coats rather than a few thick ones. After a few coats it should start to build up on the center and the edges until you don’t notice a difference.

Best of luck.

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finish for a walnut goblet

Q:
Hi - My husband it turning a walnut goblet for my nephew's upcoming wedding. The wedding is in just two short weeks. What type of finish would you recommend using on the goblet that would be safe for the new couple to make a toast (with wine) at the ceremony? The finish would only need to last for the ceremony and then could be redone afterwards.
Thank you
Cathy
Riverside, California

A: I have heard from many sources that as long as the finish is fully cured you can use any standard wood finish on wood that will be used for food.

That being said, I use mineral oil. It is easy to apply - just wipe it on, rub it in and let it dry - and it is definitely food safe. The disadvantage is that it needs to be reapplied more often than other finishes. You should also be careful not too put on too much at one time or it will be hard to rub it in.

I've had great luck with it. I love it for cutting boards, but I use it for all sorts of things. In fact, I just used mineral oil on a pair of Adirondack chairs that have been sitting in the sun for ages.

Best of luck.
Kate

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Sanding through polyurethane into wood finish

by Kris
(San Angelo tx )

Q: I'm pretty new to wood working but have general knowledge. As my first project I decided to sand down and re-stain, refinish a heavily worn coffee table (about 4 1/2 to 5 ft).

I sanded the whole thing with a sanding block or just by hand as I really don't have any tools, needless to say it took a really long time to sand the whole thing (I used 60, 100 and 220 grit sandpaper.)

As I needed help I just gathered as much info as I could from different websites. There's a few issues I encountered that I can't really find a good answer to.

1. I disassembled the coffee table to be able to thoroughly sand the whole thing. After sanding the small front sliding door I realized its a different type of wood/material because it has a plastic to it.

The edges around the top part of the coffee table (about two inches wide.) seem to be a different type of wood as well, after sanding the whole top I noticed the wood on the inside of the attached two inch border pieces was darker than than the border.


2. After finally selecting the right color stain/finish (I used miniwax Sedona red 222 wood finish which I applied using a foam brush after thoroughly removing all dust.) all the pieces took the stain in very good aside from the small front sliding door. So after drying for the recommended 8 hrs I applied a second coat to the door and touched up other areas that needed it.

After everything was dried I wiped them down with a clean t-shirt material shop rag removing all dust. I then applied a thin layer of miniwax fast drying polyurethane clear gloss per recommended manufactures instructions. I let it dry for around 10-12 hrs and began to very lightly sand with 320 grit sandpaper to remove small bubbles or dust that had settled on during the dry time as recommended.

After sanding the middle of the top piece I moved to the edges but as I was sanding I noticed it looked like I was sanding through the polyurethane into the finish so I stopped. It only appears to be doing that on the edges of the top piece.

I literally set the sandpaper down and moved it along in the direction of the grain but it still appeared to be doing the same thing.

Should I completely sand down and redo only the edges or is there a different method requiring less time? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!


A:

Wow. All that sanding takes patience. I’m impressed. It sounds like you’re doing a good job. I actually wouldn't worry too much about sanding through the edges.

If you only put on one coat of finish it may just be that the edges soaked it in more. I’d continue with your light sanding to remove the dust, then refinish the whole thing. I often use the wipe on polyurethane and it generally takes at least three coats to get any sort of build up. It’s not unusual for me to go as high as seven coats.

If you are using a brush, make sure you apply the finish sparingly. It is much better to put on several coats rather than a few thick ones. After a few coats it should start to build up on the center and the edges until you don’t notice a difference.

Best of luck.

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Sanding and finishing mistake

by Donna Smith
(Oakland)

Q:
I sanded and oil finished a slab of wood and left track marks from planing and tried to fix it by sanding it down on part of the top side. I realized I made a mistake and stopped.

I tried to re-finish it several times by applying more oil finish to make it shiny like the rest of the table but it doesn't work.

My bad. Can you suggest what I can do to fix this? Thank you so much.

A: Hi Donna,

I'm sorry to say, but you'll need to sand down the entire piece and refinish it. The secret to a nice finish is mainly in the prep work. I have an article on sanding that you can look at to get some hints.

The problem in your case sounds like you have a different levels of sanding on the piece. You were right to try and get rid of the planing marks, but you shouldn't have stopped.

The trick is to get the whole top the same, then the finish will go on evenly. Otherwise you can add as much finish as you like, but the the look will never be the same.

Your best bet is to plane off the entire layer that has been finished - if you have enough material - and then re-sand the entire top, starting with rough sandpaper and working your way to fine without skipping grits. I usually work from 80 through 100, 120, 150, 220 and sometimes to 320 or more, depending on the piece.

If the surface is very rough I will use a belt sander (or hand plane and a scraper) for the roughest grit. Then I switch to an orbital sander and finally, as I said, to hand sanding.

I do the last few grits with a sanding block, following the grain. I then wipe the dust off the piece and only then will I start the finishing process.

It seems like (is) a lot of work, but the more you do early on the better the final results. If you sand properly you can get the wood to glow. It's definitely worth the effort, especially if the wood has character.

Happy sanding and, as always, work safely.

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