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Finishing my table

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So i have been making good progress on my table for my KJ classic. I am at the point where construction is complete but I need to finish the table.  I plan to do this by routing the edges of both levels and inside the hole for the kamado, sanding down the wood, applying a marine varnish finish.


What grits do people use to sand their table to? Do people start off with a low grit and move up higher through the grits? Do people sand the framework as well as the surfaces?



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I would probably start with my random orbit sander and do like 120 grit and then 220 then 320 grit. Wipe it down with a tack cloth, put a coat of finish on then use the orbit sander with like a 320-400 grit, wipe down with tack cloth then do 2 to 3 more coats of the finish using some 00 steel wool or one of those 400 grit sanding "sponges" wiping down with a tack cloth after sanding. it's up to you if you want to get the frame super smooth but you'll at least want to rough it up a couple of times to help the finish bond. 

Otherwise looks like a good solid table, congrats!

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Really nice work there! Now's the time to keep it that way. 


First off, I don't see a cut-out for the hinge; is the table shallow enough that the hinge will clear? Then there's the question of how you'd like to finish it. 


If you have really great wood, you might consider an oil finish, perhaps using a food grade oil. You won't have the protection of a sealed surface, and it would require reapplication of the oil finish periodically, but it can really bring out grain structure. 


If you plan to seal the surface, your first coat should be a sanding sealer. This is a thin, penetrating finish that prevents water based finishes from raising the grain.


I like shellac because you can dilute it like crazy (it's just flakes dissolved in alcohol) and it dries very quickly, until the surface is no longer porous. You can use any other finish on top of it, plus, it's a great food-grade finish in its own right. Just dilute less and build up several thin layers before sanding. Look into "French polish," a process that sands while applying finish, to completely fill the grain. 


For severe service, like being exposed to weather but not direct sun, I recommend the West System epoxy-based wood finish products. You need 2 coats, sanding with 60-grit (seriously) in between, but this stuff fills like crazy. The downside is that it is not UV-stable. It needs layers of a good UV-absorbing varnish overcoat or the epoxy will degrade. I use Helmsman outdoor urethane varnish. It's still not suitable for direct sun. I use this approach on my telescopes which see a lot of dew, but little sun; it's not cheap because you really need the metering pumps. 


Nothing wrong with Red River's sanding protocol, just apply sealer after the 120-grit, and perhaps repeat if the sealer raised the grain (shellac won't). 


Have fun,


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