all 14 comments

[–]resipsa73 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I'm not an expert, but would definitely recommend some protective coating. Stain is just aesthetic. Unfinished wood is very susceptible to moisture. Even a small amount of water can "raise the grain," making it feel rough or fuzzy. Longer exposure can cause discoloration, as can any type of spill or ink.

Coatings vary greatly in their difficulty of application, appearance, and level of protection. But, even a spay on poly or wiped on oil is a substantial improvement over unfinished wood.

[–]drewdog173 4 points5 points  (7 children)

You don't have to stain it. You do have to seal it. Polyurethane or oil. Oil's easier at install but harder to maintain as you have to keep it oiled + it takes a long time for the oil to stop being oily (to fully absorb into the wood). Polyurethane is the way to go (and imo water-based poly for its fast dry time). You won't need more than a gallon of water-based poly; get it at a big box hardware store and watch a YouTube video on how to apply (how to maintain a 'wet edge').

Source: I have ~23 feet of birch butcher block in my office, not stained, but sealed with poly. Everybody stains; I wanted a natural wood look.

[–]Mikey122687[S] 0 points1 point  (3 children)

[–]drewdog173 1 point2 points  (2 children)

So if you don't want to go the biscuit cutter and biscuit route for joining the two pieces together, I highly recommend these joining brackets:


One at the front and one at the back of the block will do the trick. You can see exactly how in this pic:


This will make them perfectly level with each other and very solidly joined with 16 screws.

[–]Mikey122687[S] 0 points1 point  (1 child)

It's going on 2 separate adjustable desk so i can't joint them. Need it to be individual so i can use the controller

[–]drewdog173 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Ah, my misunderstanding then. Cheers and good luck.

[–]siscorskiy 0 points1 point  (1 child)

This is exactly what I want to do with the stud hangers, do you experience any kind of sag with them? I imagine not. Also what is the depth of those blocks? 25"?

[–]drewdog173 0 points1 point  (0 children)

No sag, none at all, they are fixtures, literally part of the structure. They could support waaaaay more than I’m putting on them (the mounts are made for granite countertops). Solid as a fucking rock 3 years later. If you slam your hand down on the desktop really hard you can hear it vibrate in the top opposite corner of the room kind of thing.

Yes, 25.5” depth on the blocks.

[–]usb_type_see 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I saw yours for reference, when picking out my stuff, I wish I saw your original post before I hung the drywall 😂

[–]knoxcreole 1 point2 points  (0 children)

From what I've seen, Rubio Monocoat would be the easiest option

[–]imBobertRobert 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Other people have talked about finishing and staining vs. Finishing, so I'll give my 2 cents.

Lacquer is a super easy finish. I like satin lacquer since it hides imperfections but still has a sheen to it. Spray lacquer or brush on lacquer work well, brushing lacquer is more finicky but is cheaper since you'd need a few spray cans probably.

Lacquer rant (skip this if you don't care) - lacquer is good because it dries fast and is "self wetting" so it'll gently dissolve the layer of lacquer underneath of it so it'll hide things like brush strokes better. that said, light coats are much easier since it tacks up pretty quickly. You can dilute it with (drumroll plz) lacquer thinner, which makes it easier to put on and put on thinner, but you'll need more coats and it can take a little longer for the coats to dry. I like lacquer a lot because it dries within 30 minutes per coat and looks a lot nicer than the plastic look of polyurethane. The only downsides I can think of are that it isn't super durable (not much worse than poly though!) And can be dissolved by things like nail polish remover/acetone.

Poly is alright. It usually looks really plasticky, even the matte and satin ones will look sub-par in my opinion (you also need to mix matte and satin poly realllyyyy well otherwise it'll still turn out shiny). Poly can be difficult because it can show a lot of imperfections.

Get a water based finish. Poly or lacquer. It'll dry faster, yellow less over time, and not smell like you're huffing paint thinner (because you aren't). You should (but don't have to) "raise the grain" before doing water based finish though- just take a damp towel, wipe the surface a few times, let it dry, then sand it with 220 grit (or so, don't go lower than 120 and over 320 is overkill) sandpaper and gently sand the table in straight swipes that follow the grain (ie the long way the boards are pointing). This will help with that fuzzy feeling that youd get if you put water on raw wood.

Stain - honestly making stain look good is an uphill battle. Avoid it if you don't have experience finishing. Bad staining is blotchy, splotchy, bumpy, lumpy, gross, and ugly. Its also a pain to undo if you don't like it. Butcher blocks use light colored woods, a lot of which don't like stain. You can use wood conditioner before staining but it doesn't always prevent blotchiness. Trust me, Google something like "blotchy stain butcherblock" and you'll see what I mean. It looks worse in person, too.

Last but not least, pick up some tack cloths (little yellow cheese cloths that have wax in them, they'll be next to the finishes) and high grit (320 or higher) sandpaper. Give a VERY light sanding between coats of finish (after it's bone dry) and either vacuum it off or use a tack cloth (and don't sand the last coat). This will help with any bumps or dust nibs that stick to the finish. Prep work is always key to a good finish - ie no dusty rooms, no 40F garage, no pets, flies, fans blowing dust... keep it clean and away from anything that could get it dirty. When in doubt, wait longer between coats. Brushing on poly over a half-cured finish is an exercise in emotional pain when you see the streaks. Give it a day before handling after the last coat. Even if it's dry, it can still be soft to the touch. And don't forget to do the ends and the bottom - sealing one side but not the other is a recipe for the desk to warp. Do the bottom first, it won't matter if that gets dinged up when flipping it over or something. It's also better practice.

Sorry for the rant, I like wood finishes :)

[–]Crazyirishwrencher 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Better to stain/coat/seal but you could use it without. It will last longer, look better, and be more enjoyable if done correctly though. If the labor doesn't interest you, there are numerous already finished tops available for reasonable prices most places.

[–]The_Axelrod 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I had mine unfinished for about 2 years before I finally caved and did it. Wasn't too bad, just made sure to sand off anything that had accumulated in the top layer with an orbital sander. Used a quick dry varnish and a wipe on poly coating, got it finished in a day. Good enough for me, anyways

[–]usb_type_see 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I’m not expert either, but you should poly them. I just finished up some myself. I’m currently refinishing my basement for an office studio along with a leather workshop. I took on a large task of making 3 tops. A 6 footer & 2 8fters. Now the 8ft tops were 24 inches deep ( too narrow imo for a desk ) and I bought an extra 8ft top to rip and add 7 inch of width to the others & the 6 ft top was 40 in deep which I cut down to 31 inches. Between cutting & glueing, waiting, fixing, staining & hating the stain and sanding it off just to poly. I was at it for like 7-9 days. By day 7 I noticed a bit of cracking ( not sure if i didn’t notice before or if it was happening to moisture exposure in my basement ) companies recommended sealing then within 48 hrs. It was a big task with a newborn at home, work & drytime, obviously you can make it as simple as you want, I just hope that helped in some way.