Thursday, September 2

Tray Tables: Finishing Tables

I’ve spent most of yesterday and today sanding and finishing tables. This evening I built the stand, sanded that and applied the first coat of lacquer. That has to set up fairly hard before I can apply the second coat, so while I wait I’ll post today’s notes.

Finishing the tables means contorting them like a Houdini mannequin to get lacquer in all the places it must go. This can not be done in a single pass because once this portion is done I can not handle the table to flip it over, so this must dry first, then I flip it over and do the top of the tray. After he second coat is on I let them set overnight to harden well, then scuff sand them and shoot the final coat.

Lacquer does not require sanding between coats for adhesion, but I like to sand after the second coat with a very fine sanding sponge to smooth the finish so I end up with a waxy-smooth feel to the finish. It is wonderful!

It is almost 10:30 PM as I write this. I’ll shoot one more coat on the stand and let it set up overnight. Sand and shoot for the third time in the morning. I’ll also apply a skim coat of poly to the table tops to help them resist water rings. That will require at least 8 hours to cure before I can package them up for shipping. I’ll do that Saturday and schedule a FedEx pick-up for Monday morning. At least that is my plan.

Oh, I didn’t tell you that our dust collector blew up. It turned out to not be an actual dust explosion – which CAN happen and can be very dangerous; fine dust particles are highly flammable – but the top of the dust collector blowing off. Now that I think about it it COULD have been a dust explosion that blew the things top off, but I found no evidence of fire, so I dismissed that thought right away.

I was running the surface planer on Tuesday, making parts for the stand I believe, when I head , “BOOM” and the whole area was flooded with a cloud of dust so thick I couldn’t see across the room. I managed to get the equipment shut off and escape to cleaner air for a while to let the dust settle a bit. Even the short time I was in there gave me such a snootfull that my sinus cavities, right ear and right side of my throat are all inflamed and sore. Cherry dust is especially irritating to respiratory systems.

I got the top put back in place with little difficulty; saw no sign of fireballs having been involved, so I went back to work. But there is a thick layer of fine cherry dust all over EVERYTHING. I’ll be spending an entire day cleaning up the mess when this job is done!

Such is life when you’re a woodworker!

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