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Question
I'm building an art table so my wife has a good place to paint her cowheads. What would be the best way to seal the table top so that if paint gets on it, it could be easily cleaned? Ideally I'd like to keep the natural wood finish so I don't want to paint it. I can only think of maybe a wax rubbed down on the table prior to her painting so it would catch the paint drips? Thank you.
Note: table top would be reclaimed pallet (prob pine)

Answer
Hi Steve, with Pine, there's really no finish that will allow you to clean off dried paint easily with out damaging the surface...a good Acrylic Urethane finish will seal the table completely (with 3-4 coats),dry quickly, and allow wet/ still damp, paint to be washed off...but any surface finish will eventually succumb to repeated washing, etc...an oil finish like WaterLox is also an option, but Pine is so soft it will soak that up like a sponge and each coat will need to dry 24hrs between coats, and final cure takes weeks. In my experience the only surface that will stand up is formica or a solid surface top, and used ones can be found at a tag sale, junk shop, craigslist (always check the "free" section!), etc...for very little money...and can be cut to size with a sharp carbide circular saw..( just cut it upside down for a clean cut).If you desire a bigger table, the sheets of material are available in 4'x8' and can easily be glued to a plywood/MDF type substrate. You can use solvents, and a sharp chisel and/or single edged razor blade with abandon to clean that surface, and it will last for years... I have several work tables made from easily accessible Birch Plywood,(qualities vary), that I have finished with Zar Ultramax, a high performance acrylic urethane, that have held up pretty well, and are fairly durable....steer away from Minwax Polycrylic, it is a consumer grade product that offers 1/4 of the toughness and durability of the Zar..hope that gives you some insight...please post back if need be.
Regards,
Greg

http://www.amazon.com/ZAR-36112-Gloss-Modified-Polyurethane/dp/B002MPTBBK/ref=pd

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Greg Scholl

Expertise

Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.

Experience

Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Publications
Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Education/Credentials
Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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