Turning over the sturdy tabletop, I felt a thrill of vindication. Clearly, it wasn’t a mistake in the end to use all three stains for the same project. Before I could consider the job done, though, I would need to apply sealer—Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane—to protect the wood from moisture, UV rays, and the wear and tear of day-to-day life. This was my first time experimenting with a spray-application sealer, and I loved it. Obviously, it’s important to have proper ventilation in your work area, and you’ve got to shake the can vigorously before spraying, but so long as you remember the basics, spraying couldn’t be more straightforward. Holding the Helmsman Spar Urethane can about a foot from the surface, spray in a series of even strokes, always in the same direction, until you’ve completed the first coat. Let the sealer dry for about four hours before applying any additional coats, and for best results, sand the entire surface before each application of a new layer.
Building a table is one of the most deceptively simple woodworking projects going. What could be easier than gluing up a few boards and applying a finish, right? But reality is often surprising, because building a top for that table can go wrong in ways you might not realize until it’s too late. Here are my favourite tabletop construction tips, plus advice on how to avoid trouble.