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Do you need to finish both sides of a table top?

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Forum topic by Rich posted 10-09-2018 03:29 PM 1433 views 0 times favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rich

3646 posts in 731 days


10-09-2018 03:29 PM

Spoiler alert: NO. This is one of those myths that got legs and just won’t go away.

www.popularwoodworking.com/article/finish-both-sides-is-it-necessary-to-do-this-or-not/

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner


40 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5088 posts in 2635 days


#1 posted 10-09-2018 03:42 PM

I rarely do, and this just confirms the “not needed” side of the argument.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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waho6o9

8407 posts in 2719 days


#2 posted 10-09-2018 03:44 PM

I finish all six sides.

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Mark

957 posts in 2116 days


#3 posted 10-09-2018 04:02 PM

I didn’t…but wish I had.

-- Mark

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4982 posts in 2493 days


#4 posted 10-09-2018 04:04 PM

I usually do both sides, but the bottom not nearly to the degree that I finish the top.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Lazyman

2493 posts in 1529 days


#5 posted 10-09-2018 04:07 PM

it seems like if you use a water based finish, the same logic might apply as when using a water based glue to apply veneer?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

3087 posts in 1623 days


#6 posted 10-09-2018 04:12 PM

Yeah, I do.

How much extra effort does it take, especially seeing you don’t use as much or need to finish it as well?

Plus, it gives me a “preview” of what the top will look like so I use the bottom to experiment a bit.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

316 posts in 632 days


#7 posted 10-09-2018 04:24 PM

I always thought that you had to finish both sides, unless you’re using plywood. However, as RWE points out, it does give you a chance to see what the finish will look like before you finish the top.

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Aj2

1713 posts in 1940 days


#8 posted 10-09-2018 04:27 PM

I do the same as rwe the bottoms gets a finish because it’s a preview. It’s one step ahead of the top.
In the past some tables I have made have some pretty wacky experiments going on. I bet someday someone is going to take the top off and say what the heck is is. It looks like someone barfed on this and just barely wiped it up. :))

-- Aj

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Rich

3646 posts in 731 days


#9 posted 10-09-2018 04:29 PM

rwe2156, lumbering_on, Aj2 — That’s what test boards are for!!

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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jbay

2662 posts in 1041 days


#10 posted 10-09-2018 04:32 PM

You never know what the clients may be doing on the floor :>/

To me it depends on the construction of the top.
Also the use of the top and the size of the top.

So not always!

Solid glue up’s I usually do. I figure it can’t hurt.
Plus it’s more impressive if/when the client looks underneath, which they do!!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5088 posts in 2635 days


#11 posted 10-09-2018 04:40 PM

Jbay, you make a point that is sometimes overlooked in these type of discussions. If I was doing this for pay, I would finish the bottom just to look more professional….but I’m only a hobbyist doing things for myself.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View diverlloyd's profile

diverlloyd

3104 posts in 1999 days


#12 posted 10-09-2018 04:52 PM

I finish both,it shows you have pride in your work not to skip something. Like a painter that doesn’t paint the tops of door frames and says “no one will see it”. When you make a finished product it isn’t finished if it’s not fully finished.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6157 posts in 3336 days


#13 posted 10-09-2018 05:01 PM

Yep….I always finish everything….and everywhere…! I feel like the project is not finished until it is all finished….Like was pointed out, if a customer is paying good $$$ for an item, they deserve the best I can do to satisfy them with the build, finish, and questions…..That’s what keeps them coming back for more….!! That’s what you call a repeat customer….!!

-- " It's a rat race out there, and the rats are winning....!!"

View Aj2's profile (online now)

Aj2

1713 posts in 1940 days


#14 posted 10-09-2018 05:06 PM

Yes that’s true always test on scraps when you have some. I’m so glad I’ve grown out if the need to stain everything and have the confidence in my work to tell someone no I cannot make your pine look like mahogany or java coffee.
I really believe some people think wood comes in one color.

-- Aj

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5756 posts in 2955 days


#15 posted 10-09-2018 05:16 PM

Finish all surfaces of a project. Not because someone told you to, but because we are hand crafting furniture. Do it because you are a craftsman. Do it because your projects stand above mass produced pieces. If not, just go buy from IKEA and be done with it.

One rare exception is the inside of a cedar lined chest. Enjoy the cedar smell and leave that part unfinished. But on absolutely everything else finish it! You seriously want someone touching the edge of your new dining table, and feeling the texture change on the unfinished side under the table???

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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