Tabletop Surface and Finish

You can choose how we prepare the surface and what we put on it.

Kitty finishing cherry dining table top

Options for Surface Preparation

The surface of your tabletop can be:

  • sanded.
  • handplaned.


We start on the stroke sander with 80 or 120 grit (photo below). We use ever finer grits, ending with 320 and 400 by hand.

A sanded finish is for those who want a flat, flawless surface.

Austin stroke sanding a trestle table top


With sharp plane and scraper, we remove a shaving from everywhere on the surface. You can feel small ridges and valleys left by this work. Some wood fibers tear rather than cut, leaving a few divots.

The hand planed surfaces are for those who want clear evidence of hand work, who like the look and feel of the resulting texture, and who want to obscure future dings and scratches.

Options for Finish

We can finish your tabletop with:

  • handrubbed oil.
  • varnish.

Handrubbed Oil

This is the finish we use on our chairs and table bases. We apply 3 or 4 additional coats on table tops. It is the least impervious to liquids, but can be repaired and rejuvenated by owners.

See Handrubbed Oil.

Kitty oiling a pedestal extension top


As step one of this finish, we hand-rub oil into the wood to bring out the natural color and depth, then we apply two coats of polyurethane varnish. This is the most impervious to liquids, but must be professionally repaired.

See Varnish for details.

Austin varnishing extension table tops

January 06, 2020

Hi Gary,

The varnish you applied to the walnut dining room table is amazing and practically indestructible! After all these years and countless family gatherings, there are no stains!

T. B.

West Hartford, Connecticut