The side table

Finishing up

To deepen the black color, oil is needed. I therefore chose the same oil based lacquer I used on the wall shelf. For the top I will use the water based version of that lacquer in order to keep the color as light as possible. Osmo Top Oil with added pigments could also be used, but I am not confident that the table top will hold up as well without a protective layer. The wood shows signs of a too rapid drying process, so I’ll go the safe route on this one with a film finish.

The finish I’m using is Trestjerners floor lacquer, semi-gloss. Both water based (for the top to avoid any yellowing) and oil based. I have used the products before, and they are incredibly tough. The finish I get after three or four coats is amazing. I used the water based version for the rocking cradle and the organ bench, and it is holding up beautifully. Especially on the seat of the organ bench, which gets a lot of wear.

My process for this finish is as follows:

  1. Sand the surfaces with 240 grit, clean with a damp cloth.
  2. Apply a slightly heavy first coat, focus on the end grain. Work it to avoid drips and runs, and wipe off excess with the brush.
  3. Use a card scraper to knock off any drops, build-ups, raised grain, dust particles and other defects. Use 240 grit sand paper for a very light sanding. Any high/low spots will be visible. Check that no high spots are left.
  4. Apply two to three light coats with a very light scraping and sanding in between. Just wet the surface evenly, no more. When scraping, hold the card scraper flat against the surface – don’t bend it like we usually do. Apply light finger pressure to the back and drag it along the surface, along the grain. Work it until it glides over the surface without snagging on anything. Then sand.
  5. After the final coat has dried for 1-2 days, buff the surface with a soft cloth or wads of thread (polishing yarn). Follow the instructions for the product you are using, and let the finish cure completely before you subject it to everyday use. For a table, I won’t place a cloth, vase or anything else “semi-permanent” for at least a fortnight.

A neat trick to deal with small runs and drops that easily can form along edges, is to use a sharp chisel and slice off the excess after it has become solid but before it has hardened. If done right, a light buff with polishing yarn afterwards removes any traces of it. 0000 steel wool can be used too. If any sanding is necessary, you can wipe the brush over the area without giving it a full coat. I do not clean my brush until I’m done with the finishing process, so there’s always a bit of finish in the bristles. Just swat the surface lightly with the brush, and any sanding marks will disappear.

I hung the legs to make the finish application a LOT easier. The screw holes were tight enough to give a firm grip while hanging the legs. If not, I would’ve used wood screws one size up.

The color pre-finishing was a bit dull and not the deep black I had envisioned. It also had a brown-ish tint to it. However, after the first coat of oil based lacquer – things really changed. Pitch black!

Another thing to notice, is how even the color is. No blotching or anything – as Richard says it in the instructional videos for the series: it almost looks like plastic, it’s so even! Also notice the structure in the wood. Lovely!

For the table top, I chose water based lacquer to prevent any yellowing. Because the wood has a lot of small cracks from the drying process – and the epoxy filled knots/defects – I wanted a film finish as opposed to for example pigmented Osmo Top oil. Any hard wax oil or similar finishes might’ve been a better choice if the wood were of better quality.

I screwed in some bolts to hold the top off the bench while finishing. I applied finish to the underside first (placing the top on a box or what ever would fit the bill), then placed it on the bolts for finishing the top surface.

Prior to applying the finish, I raised the grain on all surfaces. After 240 grit sanding, I applied a generous first coat. After 24 hours, I used a card scraper to remove any raised grain, dust particles, drops and runs, followed with a light 240 grit sanding. Between each subsequent coat, I repeated the scraping / sanding procedure with very light pressure. The end result were a pristine surface (pics at the end of the article).

The table top risers

I did not like how the legs met the taper on the underside of the table top, so I decided it might look good to let the top “float” above the legs / aprons. I cut some 5mm wide pieces of some copper water pipe I polished to a matte shine. To hold them while filing them to size, I hammered one into the end grain of a piece of scrap to make an imprint. I then cut away the excess material and used a rasp to form a knob that holds the copper rings. Lastly, I dipped the rings in lacquer to prevent any oxidizing over the years.

This detail won’t be seen unless you look underneath the table, and that won’t happen unless you lift it up or lay down on the floor. This is a case of “I know it’s there…” It is the same thing with the chamfer – the table top looks very thin although most of it is 19mm solid oak. The chamfer won’t normally be seen, either.

And as the image above shows, this marked the end of the project. The table is placed between two Formfin Mobile arm chairs in our living room.

The measurements are: length: 50,9 cm (20 1/16”) / width: 42,1 cm (16 9/16”)/ height: 49,6 cm (19 1/2”). The halving joint and the bridle joints are 12 degrees.

3 thoughts on “The side table

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