I'm making a slab table top out of walnut. What are the best finishes for
this dining table? Need latest opinions. Also I need to add some bow ties
to some splits. How deep do you folks think I need to make the mortises for
these bowties? (And obviously how thick to make the bowties?)
I'll post pics when I'm done.
Thanks and best to all Galoots!
i was at japan house, london, in the fall and they were showing slabs held
with various lengths of brass keyed in. not sure what kept them from
slipping, but they were about 1/4" thick pieces of brass, set at least an
inch into either side.
nakashima, iirc, used somewhere between 1/4" to 3/8", but don't quote me.
I tend to like genuine Tung oil for walnut. I've bought mine from Garrett Wade,
Lee Valley and Sutherland Welles over the years. In fact Sutherland Welles is
my go to. I think I originally found them at Garrett Wade 30+ years ago.
I use these finishes primarily for boxes. I have also used them on curly maple
with great success. (You can see some photos on my website at
https://www.mvr1.com/boxes.html . The early photos were with cheaper early gen
digital cameras but the later images are better.) I have used both the oils with
some driers and unprocessed Tung oil. When I have a lot of time I start with
the unprocessed sometimes thinned. I'll often rub it in with fine grit wet or
dry sandpaper. Then when it is dry I'll follow up with the higher gloss version
with some driers in it over the top. And then wax.
Slabs are popular. Its risky business.
To have a hope of keeping it flat over time be sure to dry it really
Then put the same amount of finish on the underside.
You don't want it turning into a canoe.
(you don't really have to polish the underside like the top, but just
use plenty of finish there.)
3/8" is enough for butterflies that I have seen.
Box 409 Happy Camp, Ca 96039
I'm assuming this is an everyday type of table, vs. a fancy schmancy
highly polished shrine to walnut?
Either way (and you didn't ask for this), I recommend filling the pores.
This makes it easier to level the finish.
Filling pores would be a whole nother post if not several books. :)
After that, look no further than here:
The hard oil along with the sealer as an undercoat is bomb proof. I use
this combo (you can wipe it on) on wood transitions/thresholds, and it's
You can't refresh it like a shellac finish (it also won't damage nearly as
easily), but after umpteen years, you can always sand it down and have-at
Thanks to Paddy and Frank F. and others for the replies! The table top is
two slabs each 18" by 5 ft. and joined together. The slabs are 5/4
thick with some beautiful feather figure. I plan to leave them live-edged
on the outsides. The top will go onto an already made trestle table base
which has two cross-top supports. I thought to use screws through them
(slotted holes and washers) to keep it flat. I want it to be a bit longer
than 5 ft. so I'm thinking of applying breadboard ends which will also help
Leave it to Paddy to suggest the most expensive finish I've ever heard of
(Grin). Why don't I instead just use ground diamonds in whale oil binder
since I DO plan to make it a fancy schmancy ode to walnut. Why Not?? (Heh
heh). I may use a mixture of tung oil, linseed oil, and varnish. I've
used it before but not on table tops. Anybody know how to polymerise tung
Again, thanks for suggestions. My old mountain neighbor used to say, "I get
all the advice I can, then I do exactly as I please!" Ha.