HOW TO MAKE A SIMPLE PINE COFFEE TABLE OR TABLES

FINISHING THE COFFEE TABLE - Levelling, Sanding, Staining, Sealing.

LEVELLING THE COFFEE TABLE

Put the coffee table on your level surface and check for wobble.

If necessary take a little bit off the end of one or two legs until it stands firm. Once again a belt sander is a good tool for this, or, if the amount to come off is too small to be sawn off and you haven't got a belt sander, you could mark the leg all round and use a sharp chisel making sure you are always cutting towards the middle of the leg.

SANDING

The base, having been sanded with 80 or 100 grit is finished as far as sanding goes. The top however, needs to be a lot smoother unless you are aiming for a rough rustic look.

Wipe the coffee table top and edges down with a damp cloth and leave to dry. Once dry, sand by hand with 120 or 150 grit sandpaper until smooth. The reason for doing this is that the summer and winter growth rings of the tree are of different hardness and absorb liquid at different amounts. By raising the softer grain with water and then sanding it off flat you prevent it from raising during the application of a stain or sealant. With a close grained timber one could repeat this several times using progressively finer sandpaper after each dampening to get an extra smooth finish, but as pine is an open grained timber once will probably result in as smooth a finish as you're going to be able to get. After the final sanding you are ready for either staining or sealing.

STAINING

If you plan to stain your table, maybe with an antique pine stain, it is best to avoid spirit stains unless you are experienced in their use. Spirit stains dry extremely fast and can leave a tide mark unless you work very quickly. Oil stains are the most slow drying and water based stains somewhere in between.

Have a small brush available to work stain into tight corners, but wipe the stain on mainly with a cloth for an even finish. When you use the brush to get the stain into corners, wipe it over immediately afterwards with the cloth to blend it in as the brush will apply more stain than the cloth leading to a darker patch unless you remove the excess.

SEALING THE COFFEE TABLE

There are many different ways to seal coffee tables including Teak oil, varnishes, laquers, etc., but the two that I favour are shellac sanding sealer finished with antique wax or for a more durable finish I use Bona Mega which, amongst its other uses, is used to seal wooden floors.

Antique Wax

Apply shellac sanding sealer thinly by brush to the base of the coffee table in the direction of the grain working quickly as, being spirit based, it dries rapidly. Use a cloth to apply it to the top in the direction of the grain, again working quickly and keeping it thin. Try and apply it the whole length of the table in one stroke. Alow to dry for about 2 hrs, and then apply a coat of antique wax rubbing it in with with 0000 wire wool. Leave for 15mins approx and then polish firstly with a cloth to remove excess wax and then again with a new cloth vigourously until it brings up a shine.

Bona Mega Finish

Apply one coat with a brush to seal the table. Leave for 8 hours or preferably overnight. Rub the whole table down with 0000 wire wool. Apply second coat thinly and allow same time to dry. If necessary repeat for a third coat. If you want a slightly matter finish rub the whole table down gently with 0000 wire wool after the final coat has dried.

YOUR PINE COFFEE TABLE IS NOW FINISHED

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