finishing beech-veneered MDF dining table

Old 01-16-01, 06:58 AM
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I'm making a kitchen/dining table using a beech-veneered MDF board for the top, with pine for the base and to edge the board with. This is my first project. I'm wondering how best to finish it: my original plan was to make a solid top from edge-jointed beech planks, but that worked out too expensive to risk on a first project. With solid wood I would have wanted a finish that enhanced the wood as simply as possible - perhaps a tung oil or something? - but nothing too fancy that would have me nervous every time the table was used in case something got spilled on it. Now I'm using the veneered MDF, I kind of imagine that a varnish would be more practical, but I don't want the thing to look too "varnished" - I want it to look like natural wood with a light finish as much as possible. Any suggestions as to which way I should go?
Many thanks
John, London UK
Old 01-16-01, 04:08 PM
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Either a tung oil or wiping varnish finish should give you the look you want. Beech doesn't have a very open grain so just a few coats should seal the piece and give you a usable finish.

I assume you're not planning to stain either the pine or beech. If you DO plan to stain the pine, however, use a wood conditioner or a wash coat of shellac - that's 3# cut shellac thinned 1:2 with denatured alcohol. Pine is notorious for uneven staining - and you don't want to have to sand out your work again. For that matter, use it on the beech if you plan to stain that. Better safe than sorry.

FYI - Either shellac or wood conditioner is compatible with tung oil or any other wiping varnish.
Old 01-17-01, 04:22 AM
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Hi George
Many thanks for your help. I wasn't planning on staining the pine, no, since I don't think I'd get an exact match with the beech and I'd rather have it obvious that two types of wood were used rather than have it obvious that a bad matching-up job has been attempted. But that's useful info to bear in mind for the future. Thanks for the tip on tung oil/wiping varnish.

Best wishes

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