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What Finish Should I Use on Nightstand/Bedside Table Build - WIP, Advice Needed

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Cabinetman

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Don't know if you can help but I have just finished varnishing a desk I made for my son and was not pleased with the finish I obtained, reached the level of "it will do". Being new to this I followed the instructions as best I could. On hardwood ply, wiped down with a white spirit damped cloth to remove dust, stained with a water based stain, two coats of Ronseal polyurethane satin 6 hours apart left 24 hours sanded with 240 paper then top coat. Result brush marks, orange peel and some visible scratches from sanding. Following unsatisfying results on the underside as an experiment preped as before then when the first coat was dry scrapped it with a Stanley blade and applied one further coat, much better finish no brush marks, fairly even shine, not up to the standard in your photo but wouldn't expect that on my second attempt.
What puzzles me is why am I getting a better result going away from the method used by people who obviously know more than I do. Any idea what I'm doing wrong?
You don’t say if the varnish was water-based or not. I suspect as previously said it has gone on a bit thick, first coat should be thinned a little, the varnish doesn’t need rubbing down as such it just needs the little specks removing with a specialist de- nibbing paper which can be completely worn out to work best, quite amazing stuff, you can rub your hand over the dried varnish and think oh God what a mess, and then 30 seconds later with something that you think won’t do any good at all and it’s like satin, and ready for another coat.
One thing about Johnstons water-based varnish, on the instructions it says do not overlap the brushstrokes – lol, I think the people that wrote that have never actually vanished anything in their lives, I overlap, brush it in the other direction and back again with the grain and it always comes out perfect, don’t know what they’re on about really.
Edit, I don’t know if it will make any difference, but I never use white spirit to remove dust, just one of those household dusting cloth‘s that when you pass it over a sanded surface, pick up an incredible amount, also anything that’s missed gets removed with the de-nibbing paper. Ian
 
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Ozi

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Ozi,
your finish will be as good as your base,if you can see scratches your base wasn’t ready for the varnish,water based stains will lift the grain.It can be avoided if you use wipe a damp rag on the surface,let it dry and light sand,then apply the stain.
You should use the best quality brush you can buy,it is false economy to buy an inferior brush.Consider the hours you have spend on your project and the cost of your materials,use a good brush.
Orange peel sounds like too much varnish has been applied and probably hasn’t dried enough between coats.I like to wait at least 12 hours or more with polyurethane .Lightly cutting back with 600 between coats.
Ronseal is a great varnish,I normally give my work at least 3 coats.....light coats that is.
Than
You don’t say if the varnish was water-based or not. I suspect as previously said it has gone on a bit thick, first coat should be thinned a little, the varnish doesn’t need rubbing down as such it just needs the little specks removing with a specialist de- nibbing paper which can be completely worn out to work best, quite amazing stuff, you can rub your hand over the dried varnish and think oh God what a mess, and then 30 seconds later with something that you think won’t do any good at all and it’s like satin, and ready for another coat.
One thing about Johnstons water-based varnish, on the instructions it says do not overlap the brushstrokes – lol, I think the people that wrote that have never actually vanished anything in their lives, I overlap, brush it in the other direction and back again with the grain and it always comes out perfect, don’t know what they’re on about really.
Edit, I don’t know if it will make any difference, but I never use white spirit to remove dust, just one of those household dusting cloth‘s that when you pass it over a sanded surface, pick up an incredible amount, also anything that’s missed gets removed with the de-nibbing paper. Ian
Thanks advice appreciated. I think I may have applied the varnish when it was too cold about 5°C
 

Cabinetman

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Don't know if you can help but I have just finished varnishing a desk I made for my son and was not pleased with the finish I obtained, reached the level of "it will do". Being new to this I followed the instructions as best I could. On hardwood ply, wiped down with a white spirit damped cloth to remove dust, stained with a water based stain, two coats of Ronseal polyurethane satin 6 hours apart left 24 hours sanded with 240 paper then top coat. Result brush marks, orange peel and some visible scratches from sanding. Following unsatisfying results on the underside as an experiment preped as before then when the first coat was dry scrapped it with a Stanley blade and applied one further coat, much better finish no brush marks, fairly even shine, not up to the standard in your photo but wouldn't expect that on my second attempt.
What puzzles me is why am I getting a better result going away from the method used by people who obviously know more than I do. Any idea what I'm doing wrong?
Edit. Sorry double post
 

TRITON

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I've just used osmo for the first time- Raw, and to be honest im finding it a nice finish that has applied easily. No idea of long term use in how it will stand up to wear, but it gives the achieved look very quickly, seems to dry well and no be sticky after it.

Being new to it i watched several YT vids and was amazed that some people followed a regime that appeared to 'big up' its importance on how it 'should' be properly applied, which was a bit off putting, but found other vids that gave a better impression of easy finishing.
Some used a white pad that osmo recommends, others swore by a standard foam pad, and scoffed at brushes saying you need to use the osmo pads or foam, then i watched someone using a credit card to squeegy it about so i just used the cheapest 3 for a quid brush and found it more that adequate.


It's just a case of applying, working it back and forward, with the grain and against, left it only a few minutes then wiped off the excess with kitchen towel. Then left it overnight to find it dry enough to use a 480 sanding pad to cut it back before putting on a 2nd coat in the exact same way.
There were a number of stories about leaving it too long and it becoming a sticky mess, hence me only leaving it under 5 minutes. Seems the key is very thin coats and a minimum of two.
 

danst96

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Update on the nightstand project.

As i mentioned before this is my first proper woodworking project. I will admit i had no idea, i saw a maker on youtube building with Black American Walnut, fell in love with the look and took a cut list and purchased what i needed. Only after paying and reading around some more did I realise its probably one of the most expensive timbers I could have got to do my first woodworking project on which is very daft I know. So please dont judge me on the quality of the workmanship, they are a bit ropey in places but I am generally very pleased so far.

So here is a bit of a timeline:

Got lumber at Duffields who kindly cut it down into oversized chunks to fit in my car:
20210120_153344.jpg
IMG-20210120-WA0017.jpeg


At this point i didnt have my own P/T. My friend owns a large retail store fit out company and has a big commercial workshop so i borrowed the use of their Felder P/T with a helical cutter head for an hour and planed and thicknessed my boards.
IMG-20210121-WA0015.jpeg


Glued my panels.

As it was my first time i did a few practices with plywood. But then me being me left it at that and launched straight into this build.

Once all was dried I cut everything to dimension (dont have pics of this) and then constructed my carcasses.
IMG-20210129-WA0030.jpeg


I added a bevel feature to the front edges as i am going for a mid century modern look. I dinged it a bit somehow but it was ok because i have slightly rounded off the sharp edges so no small (or large) humans maim themselves should the fall onto it.
20210131_101300.jpg


I then installed a little shelf feature which now in reality is perhaps a little bit to small to fit much into other than a slot for charging a phone or slipping a book into
.
20210204_164548.jpg


I then made my drawer boxes and drawer fronts and installed them. I went for a recessed drawer pull idea in keeping with MCM look.
IMG-20210207-WA0022.jpeg

Because my wood working maths is still very elementary (and i made a couple of mistakes in the build meaning i ran out of wood) i didnt have enough for the legs. I bought a new length and learnt the hard way that my car is shorter than I thought and has a maxim lumber length of approx. 2.3 meters secured. Not 2.4 meters. Walnut is expensive, this bit is worth more than gold.
IMG-20210212-WA0004.jpeg


At this point, i felt i didnt want to burden my friend anymore with the use of his PT and since i had a lot of other projects in mind i splashed out on a old Kity 636 which is a beauty. Its about the same age as my dad which i find cool.
IMG-20210211-WA0046.jpeg
 

danst96

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I then created a template for the legs and cut these out using the bandsaw, flush trim router bit and the planer and then glued them all together. Once dried i gave a nice roundover to the full leg construction. On the brace part, i chose to keep the grain running the same way as the legs. Since they arent doing anything really i thought it would be ok unless someone can tell me this was dumb. The legs are attached to the boxes using glue and a screw from the inside which no one will ever see with the drawer box installed.
IMG-20210213-WA0048.jpeg
IMG-20210213-WA0056.jpeg
IMG-20210214-WA0005.jpeg


Then in the end i have just used a Osmo Polyx matte finish which i think has bought out the woodgrain beutifully.

I will post full finished shots with the drawers installed later, i am just remaking one of the fronts as i wasnt happy with it.

20210224_132325.jpg


Feel free to point out what i could have/should have done better/differently. Im young, dumb and this was my first ever proper build.

In true style, i have already gotten distracted from these and am building a bbq table now but these should be finished up this weekend.
 

MARK.B.

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You may be young but you are by no means dumb(n)for a first ever proper build I would say " Fantastic job ", Maybe a little bit more generous with the shelf space on the next ones you build but other than that you can sit down have a cuppa and say proudly " I made that " :)
 

Jameshow

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Update on the nightstand project.

As i mentioned before this is my first proper woodworking project. I will admit i had no idea, i saw a maker on youtube building with Black American Walnut, fell in love with the look and took a cut list and purchased what i needed. Only after paying and reading around some more did I realise its probably one of the most expensive timbers I could have got to do my first woodworking project on which is very daft I know. So please dont judge me on the quality of the workmanship, they are a bit ropey in places but I am generally very pleased so far.

So here is a bit of a timeline:

Got lumber at Duffields who kindly cut it down into oversized chunks to fit in my car:
View attachment 104603View attachment 104606

At this point i didnt have my own P/T. My friend owns a large retail store fit out company and has a big commercial workshop so i borrowed the use of their Felder P/T with a helical cutter head for an hour and planed and thicknessed my boards. View attachment 104604

Glued my panels.

As it was my first time i did a few practices with plywood. But then me being me left it at that and launched straight into this build.

Once all was dried I cut everything to dimension (dont have pics of this) and then constructed my carcasses.
View attachment 104605

I added a bevel feature to the front edges as i am going for a mid century modern look. I dinged it a bit somehow but it was ok because i have slightly rounded off the sharp edges so no small (or large) humans maim themselves should the fall onto it.
View attachment 104607

I then installed a little shelf feature which now in reality is perhaps a little bit to small to fit much into other than a slot for charging a phone or slipping a book into
.View attachment 104608

I then made my drawer boxes and drawer fronts and installed them. I went for a recessed drawer pull idea in keeping with MCM look.
View attachment 104613
Because my wood working maths is still very elementary (and i made a couple of mistakes in the build meaning i ran out of wood) i didnt have enough for the legs. I bought a new length and learnt the hard way that my car is shorter than I thought and has a maxim lumber length of approx. 2.3 meters secured. Not 2.4 meters. Walnut is expensive, this bit is worth more than gold.
View attachment 104609

At this point, i felt i didnt want to burden my friend anymore with the use of his PT and since i had a lot of other projects in mind i splashed out on a old Kity 636 which is a beauty. Its about the same age as my dad which i find cool.View attachment 104610
Feel your pain did exactly the same in an Citroen ax when first married had done explaining to do to my new wife!!!

Cheers James
 

MARK.B.

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I only spent around 2 years working in a timber yard and i must have seen a couple of dozen broken screens both front and rear and that was from those that occurred just in the yard, how many happened on the journey home is anybody's guess. We were not allowed to load or help load customers car's and on occasion any advice was often met with "it will be ok " just as they drop the rear Hatch and a piece of 2x3 pops through the screen:censored:
 

danst96

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I only spent around 2 years working in a timber yard and i must have seen a couple of dozen broken screens both front and rear and that was from those that occurred just in the yard, how many happened on the journey home is anybody's guess. We were not allowed to load or help load customers car's and on occasion any advice was often met with "it will be ok " just as they drop the rear Hatch and a piece of 2x3 pops through the screen:censored:
This happened on the way home. I got it in the car at an angle and was quite pleased with myself but it moved as i went over a bump and just popped straight through the windscreen. Very annoying but is sods law.
 
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