Best Finish for a Maple Tabletop Overlay?

Best Finish for a Maple Tabletop Overlay?

I’ve built a tabletop of roughsawn maple blanks 7- to 10-in. wide and 1-in. thick to create a rustic “farmhouse” look. It overlays our existing kitchen table to accommodate more people. I am considering topcoating the maple with Watco® Danish Oil Natural to protect it from water/oil and other food spills and to bring out a little more color in the wood. The wood is light brown color in color now, as you can see in the above photo. Do you have other suggestions for finishing this tabletop to bring out the color of the wood and protect from spills? The table overlay is serving as an interim to a longer “farmhouse” table that my wife wants me to build someday. So eventually I’ll likely reuse the wood from this overlay for other projects after it is planed to relieve the planks of their natural bow and cup. I’m not particularly concerned about the penetration depth of finish, which would, for the most part, be planed away. – Tom Corwin

Rob Johnstone: My opinion — and it is worth every cent you are paying for it — is that you have the right idea with Watco oil. That is especially true if you are thinking of resurfacing the boards and making something else out of them later. I would apply a few coats of the oil finish. Then, from time to time, I would clean the whole top and rub it down with some fine steel wool, followed by a “touchup” coat. I think you will be happy with the results.

Tim Inman: For the use you’re describing, I think the Watco type finishes would be fine. Sam Maloof’s Poly/Oil Finish would be my recommendation. My bigger concern is that you don’t forget to finish the BOTTOM of the tabletop. If just one surface is finished, you will have unwanted warping for sure.

Chris Marshall: That’s a neat-looking tabletop! And a simple, clever idea for expanding the seating of your current table. If the wood isn’t terribly rough, I’ll make a third suggestion. You could apply a conventional brush-on varnish to build to a thicker film finish more quickly than Watco or similar wipe-on product. With a thicker coating, you can be sure spills and food stains won’t be a problem, and the film might even give you a smoother overall feel to the tabletop’s surface than a wipe-on finish. I really like General Finishes Enduro-Var waterbased varnish. It imparts a nice amber tone to the wood, which I think you’ll appreciate. It dries fast, too, with very little odor during curing. But an oil-based polyurethane would also give the maple an amber tint if you prefer more traditional oil-based varnish instead.


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