The before picture...we are obviously in need of some new finish on the dining room table. What was left of the old finish was awfully sticky.
I started with a card scraper and that quickly escalated to several hand planes. The table top needed to be flattened a bit so I wasn't too worried about removing material. Unfortunately the top is made from a variety of small boards that were glued up with the grain going every which way. I got some pretty bad tear-out in a few pieces and had to resort to the belt sander to get the remainder of the finish and clean up the tear-out.
After the belt sander I broke out the new ROS. Luckily I used a higher grit belt than I started with on the ROS...not out of any brilliant planning, I was just too lazy to change it. The ROS is a lot less agressive than the belt sander so being able to step down to an even lower grit (60 I think, had an 80 on the belt sander) for the first couple passes helped speed things up.
Once the belt sander marks were gone I started working on the edge. A goose-neck scraper got the bulk of the old finish off. I found that the ROS pads worked really well for sanding the curved edge as the thickness helped spread out the pressure a bit. Getting the edge all cleaned up was a bit tedious but once that was done it was back to the ROS to take the top up to 320.
A raking light helped identify areas that needed a bit more attention, but a final wipe down with mineral spirits still found a few more scratches that I had to go back and deal with. I have taken to making a light pencil mark on the scratch while it is wetted so I can find it once the surface dries, usually once the pencil mark is gone I'm good to go.
Then on to finishing. I was originally planning on filling the pores in the top to get a nice smooth surface. After sanding two coats of oil/varnish blend into the top and still having a long way to go I bagged that idea and decided to just not go for as much of a build with the final coats of poly. Once the oil/varnish mess dried (This took several days before the oil stopped seeping out of the pores) I started wipping on coats of thinned poly..5 in total I think.
I sanded between every other coat with 400 grit silicon carbide paper lubed up with mineral spirits. After the last coat dried I went over it with some 1000 grit (I think) paper, aslo lubricated.
All in all I am pleased with the results. I have decided that I really don't enjoy working with red oak very much.
Things I learned:
- I really don't like red oak.. dont like cutting it, dont like planing it, dont like sanding it and dont like finishing it.
- A belt sander can cure many sins with a hand plane...but it can also take quite a bite out of a surface if you aren't careful.
- Pore filling by sanding oil/varnish blend into the surface takes way more time than I am willing to give it, at least for red oak.
What I would do differently:
- Start with the belt sander and work up through a couple grits to something pretty fine. I think this would be a lot faster than trying to sand out the scratches from an 80 grit belt with a 60 grit ROS pad.
- Work someplace with more space so I can get more than a foot away from the piece to looks for defects on the top.
- Skip the oil/varnish and go straight for wiping poly.