My coffee table

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    Hello fellow woodworkers,

    This is my coffee table. It’s a different design than Paul’s because I could not convince my spouse. She prefers straight lines and not curves. This times she wins, but I’ll be back.

    The frame is made of Cherry and the top is Mahogany from an old table. It’s almost entirely made by hand. At some points I felt I needed to cheat to safe time and frustration.

    Did I mention that it’s not finished yet? Yesterday I applied a coat of sanding sealer (based on shellac) and today I sanded it with 600grit paper as advised by the manufacturer.

    I do have a question about the next step. I want to continue with a couple of coats of Danish oil and finish with wax. But I am not sure if it makes sense to use Danish oil over a sanding sealer. I have read some negative advice. I’m also not sure if it’s durable enough, especially for the top. I have 2 little girls (one is still a baby), so it will be beaten up :). Any thoughts?

    Thanks in advance.

    Steve Follis

    Looks very nice Michael! Very nice work!
    I’m not sure about the Danish Oil, I know Paul addressed the issue of a different finish for the top in his last episode of the Coffee Table.

    Memphis, Tennessee


    Thanks Steve. He mentioned polyurethane for example. According to the project info the finish was going to be Danish oil. But for some reason Paul changed his mind.

    I will postpone the finish until I’m 100% sure. After all the hard labour I wouldn’t want to mess it up 🙂


    Good job Michael)) finally we started building tables, you are the first one who posted the finished table project. Thank you for sharing with us. According to Bob Flexner you can put everything on everything if it’s dry)) From my practice (used to do hardwood floors for living) the only two finishes that do not work together are:

    (I still believe this is the best for floor protection, almost impossible to damage) and water based finishes. And you can always try on the scrap piece of wood.

    Toronto, Canada

    Mark Armstrong

    THat looks one solid coffee table nice job.
    I would go with the polyurethane pretty tuff stuff.

    Dagenham, Essex, England

    david o’sullivan

    nice work micheal , i tried the danish oil over sanding sealer i it worked out well on oak i did however sand the second coat with 400grit wet&dry using the oil as a lubricant to fill the open grain ,like you i taught Paul would be using danish oil on this project.

    "we can learn what to do, by doing" Aristotle

    John Poutier

    Well Michael, the girls may beat it up but they will never win. Your table will be around when the baby is a Grandmother!… I’m of the view that furniture is to be used, and if gets beat up a little bit, so be it. I believe polyurethane would tough but if you like the look of something else, try it. I would guess you could always switch to polyurethane if necessary. These are just my thoughts, I have zero expertise so I’m looking forward to seeing other opinions.


    Yorktown, Virginia

    Greg Merritt

    Nice work Michael…clean lines.


    Very nice coffee table! I like it.

    I use Danish oil almost exclusively. It’s easy to apply, almost fool proof. I’ve even used Danish oil on top of milk paint. I think Paul Sellers doesn’t use oil based finishes because of the chemical properties and also because the oil finishes can have the tendencies to spontaneously combust. I have not had the problem with it spontaneously combusting, but do somewhat agree with not using products with such heavy chemical properties. I just have not made the switch to shellac.


    Dan, I don’t think the oil finish will spontaneously combust when cured although the rag used to apply the finish can combust if not stored or disposed of properly.

    If you want to try a non-toxic oil finish, try Tried and True finishes. I use them all the time and they are terrific.


    Thanks for the replies. I might just go with the oil. More pictures will follow. What do you think about the combination of Cherry and Mahogany? I wasn’t sure if it would work, but it seems fine to me.


    I think they compliment each other very well. Great job Michael


    Rl, you’re right, I meant the rags and open containers can combust. However, I still think using an oil finish is no more dangerous than using a gas powered lawn mower and keeping gas in the garage. The bigger concern, I think, it’s the exposure to harsh chemicals, inhalation of fumes/absorption through the skin and also it’s an environmental hazard. In one of the videos I recall Paul mention he no longer chooses to use oil based finishes, unless it’s used in restoration work to match color, because of the chemical hazard and combustion concern. With that said, I still have a quart of it on hand and will continue to use it up.



    Thanks Ken. I needed this confirmation 🙂

    The contrast will be more visible when all the finish coats are applied.


    It looks great! I’m curious to see how you decide to finish it and how it looks with the finish.

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