How To Finish Reclaimed Wood

How To Finish Reclaimed Wood

Thinking about the process of finishing reclaimed wood furniture begins long before the finish is ever applied to the piece. There’s quite a bit of work that goes on in the planning and design phases, to say nothing of the build itself, that will ensure a successful finish that will last you a long time.

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  • Step 1- Prepare the Wood 

When we build a custom reclaimed table, one of the first steps is planing the material to flatten it out. While a reclaimed wood table always retains some variation, some texture, and some pockmarks, we still want it to be even enough that glasses sit flat. We take some of the high spots down with planers and jointers, and then do some finer work with hand planes. Once the piece is basically flat, we use sanders to make it smooth to the touch.

  • Step 2 – Pick a Finish 

We offer two types of finish here at Cannon Hill, an oil and a urethane. Both are essentially clear coats that protect the wood from wear, stains, and water rings. The finish coat also seals the wood, slowing the ingress and egress of moisture to ensure that the table stays flat and won’t cup. If you want to change the color of the wood, we offer both stains and tinted oils.

  • Step 3 – Apply the Finish

The two finishes we use are applied in completely different ways. The oil simply gets poured onto the table, spread out, and wiped in/off with a rag. This process is incredibly simple and easy, and the product we use doesn’t create lap lines or pooling.

The urethane spray, on the other hand, requires a much more time- and equipment-intensive process. It’s a material that requires multiple components mixed in precise ratios, and applied at precise time increments. We have a complete professional spray station in our workshop, outfitted with spray equipment, exhaust fans, and all the requisite safety gear. It’s careful work, but we’ve mastered it over time.

  • Step 4 – Let Cure and Topcoat 

While the spray finish doesn’t require any further topcoating once the final coat goes on, the oil gets one final maintenance coat. This maintenance coat offers some further protection and also brings out greater visual depth in the wood. Once the oil has completely cured, a process that we shorten from weeks to days by using an accelerator, the reclaimed wood table is finished. If over time, you feel like the table loses its vibrancy, all it takes to put the life back into it is a quick topcoat of maintenance oil.