Finishing a Black Walnut Slab Table Top

      Finishers recommend hand-rubbed natural oils for a rich, deep finish on beautiful walnut. December 30, 2007

What's the right finish on a black walnut slab table top? I'm going to use it in our showroom as a plan table. It's going to have natural bark edges and it should be a clear finish. The ones I've seen look to have a nice thick clear finish and the bark seems to be finished nicely as well. It's not going to get much use, but it will be a focal point of our showroom, so I really want it to look good.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
My opinion is that that type of pour-on finish looks cheap. If it were my table (slab), I would just maybe wire brush the bark edges and then wet sand many coats of Watco Clear Oil onto the surface. This finish may take some time to achieve, but the overall look is beautiful.

From contributor P:
If it's air-dried, I like all the little red and green and blue lines, and darker oils tend to make them go away, so I prefer walnut oil or any other light colored oil. If it's been kiln dried, then I tend to try to richen it back up, using a darker oil or shellac. I'm no big fan of wrapping wood in plastic, especially with a live edge, so oil and wax would be all I'd do. You might consider taping off the bark and spraying that with lacquer or poly, though. It makes it a lot easier to keep clean, if that's important to you.

From contributor D:
I am with contributor P. I don't like plastic looking either. I would hand scrape the slab with a card scraper, then oil and wax. Below is a picture of a matched walnut crotch table top we hand scraped, beveled edges, lightly dyed, tung oiled, and then waxed with a mixture of citrus solvent and pure carnauba wax.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

From contributor C:
Being an old timer, I would recommend a friction polish finish which is very thin but looks a mile deep, easy to repair or maintain. The type of finish done on fine antiques. Not using shellac, but sandarac, a clear, light colored resin tempered with spike lavender oil for elasticity.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article