Taking care of a bare wood table and chairs

  martd7 11:22 26 Apr 2014

I have a dining table and chairs,supposedly mexican wood,its light in colour,unvarnished,unstained,ive been on a few forums relating to wood protection,im not looking to colour the bare wood,or indeed varnish it,it would take me forever to do the table and chairs and my diy capabilities are minimal,its more the table top id like to protect from scratches,scuffs etc I was advised to use a matt varnish which i may do just on the table top,also use Olive oil to feed and protect the wood as you do with these wooden chopping boards

Just interested to know if any other forum members have other alternatives?

  martd7 20:35 26 Apr 2014

To be fair i bought the table and chairs when the shop was closing its an extendable one,its nothing fancy at all price was £250,i paid £90 so i think the matt varnish option is looking favourite,as suggested to me on another forum and now on here looks like that would be the easier option for me,or a nice tablecloth!

  bumpkin 23:01 26 Apr 2014

I too think varnish is you best option as a bit of spilt tea or other liquid will soak in to untreated wood leaving a stain that is very difficult to get rid of. As said by FE a good few coats. Have patience with it and allow plenty of drying time between coats and you should have a nice finish that wont easily stain.

  Forum Editor 08:36 27 Apr 2014


Whilst it can provide a beautiful finish on some timbers there are distinct disadvantages to using Danish oil in this context.

In general, oil finishes are not that great at resisting water-borne stains. Danish oil is particularly difficult to use on some timbers - oak and mahogany spring to mind, and it provides no protection against dents and scratches. In addition, it will discolour pale timbers over time, producing a yellowish tinge that is unattractive.

With a dense timber - maple for instance - danish oil will produce a superb finish; I would never use it on a dining table however.

  carver 09:50 27 Apr 2014

mart7 just what type of finish are you looking for in the table, varnish will take a long time to correctly apply and can look horrific if done wrong.

Second thing is bog standard varnish will mark so yacht varnish is the correct one to use and be prepared to do without table and chairs for about 4 days and watch out for any thing landing on them while they are drying.

You could use some thing like this enter link description here it's water and heat resistant and is applied with a lint free cloth, touch dry time is in 5 minutes and additional coats can be applied after 30 minutes.

To get the finish you require all you do is either use a fine steel wool or a scotch pad enter link description here to get a satin finish or use this enter link description here with a clear wax to get a polished finish.

Either way you end up with a table and chairs that look like wood and still feel like wood and I still have to meet some one who is not a professional painter who can apply varnish and not cock it up.

If you still want to varnish have a read here enter link description here and please don't use cheap brushes or you are wasting your time, they lose bristles.

Get a decent one about which will cost in the region of £15-£20

  martd7 10:02 27 Apr 2014

Carver im not looking to varnish or treat the whole dining set,as in my post just the table top to stop stains,scuffs and other damage,matt varnish seems the best way to go

  carver 10:14 27 Apr 2014

Varnish will not stop scuffs or stains, either matt or gloss.

Try putting a hot drink on a varnished surface and see the ring it can leave.

Anyway it was only a suggestion, I did our pine dining table 10 years ago with the Lacquer and wax and still looks good and any marks take about 10 minutes to repair.

  mbc 12:15 27 Apr 2014

Thanks for posting this subject, as it will make me re-evaluate my prefered system of finishing. My hobby is woodworking, and I have made dozens of pieces, mainly furniture, and mainly in oak, but also in maple, sapele, mahogany, ash, teak etc.

It is very much a case of 'horses for courses' with finishes, as cheap pieces will not warrant extensive finishing. Many furniture makers frown on the use of varnish, as it can give a treacly appearance to the wood, some prefer oils, of which there are many. When forum members refer to varnish, do they really mean polyurethane, which is a different animal?

My prefered system to date is 3 coats of Danish oil followed by 3 coats of a hard beeswax with turpentine. I have found this to be virtually heat and water resistant, but if a mark does appear it is contained by the wax, and can be easily removed by scraping with the edge of a credit card to remove the affected wax, followed by re-waxing.

Thompsons of North Yorkshire (of Mousey Thompson fame), produce high quality stuff, upto nearly £9000 for a table, and their method for top surfaces is Ronseal polyurethane sealer and a wax finish, the rest of the item such as legs is waxed. They recommend an occasional maintenance treatment of a light waxing. I think that they have just recently introduced this system, as a few years back they only applied one coat of Danish oil.

Sam Maloof, a well known (in woodworking circles) American furniture designer and maker, experimented with numerous combinations of materials and finally settled on a mix of 1/3 pure Tung oil, 1/3 boiled linseed oil and 1/3 polyurethane, applied with a rag. I have used this on a couple of occasions, and it does give a superb finish. The poly can be gloss or non-gloss, depending on the required appearance. About 12 years ago I made samples of diffent applications, and the Maloof mix has lasted far better than the others.

Re-evaluation? I may try the Thompsons method, which sounds much easier than mine.

Conclusion? No right or wrong way, otherwise all furniture makers would do the same, and they don't. Depends on the piece itself and how much time and effort you are willing to put into it.

  spuds 12:47 27 Apr 2014


Good information, and perhaps inline to my earlier comment of seeking advice from Ronseal, Dulux or a local French Polisher/Furniture Restorer.

All the above seem to have time served methods, and use ways to accommodate both trade and the public, and I suppose you could ask for no better than that?.

Not sure if anyone watches Salvage Hunter on Freeview television, but Drew Pritchard seems to have a number of ways to restore furniture he obtains, from a simple 'oily or wet' wipe-down to something more substantial.

  bumpkin 13:22 27 Apr 2014

"Not sure if anyone watches Salvage Hunter on Freeview television" I do, I find it very interesting well presented.

  martd7 00:29 28 Apr 2014

Ive watched "the salvager" or as its now known "le salvager" that guys a genius

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