Coffee Table

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Hi!
I need a coffee table for my living room. After an extensive research I've noticed that if I want something in my taste, the price is sky high (to me) for a relatively simple thing.

Hence now I'm thinking about building my own table. I want it to look something like in the photograph below. Just simple, with no hidden storages etc.


I was thinking about building the structure of an MDF or plywood and I think that I should not have any particular problem with that (I might be wrong though?). The problem is painting. I do not have much expirence in this field. I want the surface to be hard, durable and shiny (high gloss). My questions are:

1. Are MDF or plywood (which?) right materials to use?

2. Is it possible to achieve a smooth and glossy surface without a specialist equipment?

3. What kind of paint, primers, (varnish?), equipment do I need and how expensive they would be?

The job could be done in my friends garage so the time or smell are not an issue. The structural material would be cut to size by my local wood supplier. I've got a 1/2 size sander. It is not a top class stuff but it does the job.

Thanks you guys in advance for any input!
 
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I was thinking about building the structure of an MDF or plywood and I think that I should not have any particular problem with that (I might be wrong though?)
Not really - MDF is the material to use, and essentuially all you are building is an upturned box fixed on top of another upturned box, so....

I do not have much expirence in this field. I want the surface to be hard, durable and shiny (high gloss)
Unless you are an experienced sprayer with the equipment I'd say forget the high gloss unless and go for something somewhat more achievable. High gloss requires decent spraying equipment and high quality preparation work - which is why car sprayers charge so much for it!

1. Are MDF or plywood (which?) right materials to use?
1. MDF - you'll never hide the end grain of plywood all that well

2. Is it possible to achieve a smooth and glossy surface without a specialist equipment?

3. What kind of paint, primers, (varnish?), equipment do I need and how expensive they would be?
2. I very much doubt it.
3. You'll need to be able to sand-out the surfaces to about P320 - so a decent orbital sander at the very least. The finish is obtained by sealing the MDF edges (2/3 coats), flatted between coats, then building several coats of high-build primer, flatted between coats to P400 minimum, last coat taken to about P1000. Next surface colour build, 4 to 6 coats of matt acrylic, denibbed between coats, finally 2 to 3 coats of clear acrylic lacquer, again denibbed between coats and buffed-out with a body polisher and through several grades of Farecla on a wetted foam mop. Cleanliness IS next to godliness in high gloss - NO dust, EVERY piece of kit air-blasted out or vacuumed out at EVERY grit change

And at the end of all that you'll see every grubby finger mark......

If you peg your requirements a bit lower - at, say , gloss, a lot more can be achieved
 
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just to add to j/k excellent advice
do not allow the mdf to get damp at all before fully covering and sealing the surface as this will damage the mdf

as in do not use as a table before sealing and do not allow to get damp or wet even when fully finished
 
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You can get a high gloss durable finish with Rustins two part floor varnish, using a roller you get a smooth unblemished finish.
 
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Ouch! My shins are are hurting just looking at those corners! ;) ;)
 
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JobAndKnock - Thank you very much for your detailed answer.

I was expecting the process to be complicated. I could have access to a compressor, nozzles etc. but these are rather low quality and I've never used anything like it in my life. Plus the problem of dust...

Foxhole - Do you mean this?:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Rustins-C...Material_Paint_Varnish_MJ&hash=item562846ec48

Do you think guys that I could achieve a smooth surface just using a roller?

I have no idea what the preparing and varnishing process looks like so I just write how I think it is and please let me know if I'm missing anything.

1. Building a structure (25mm MDF)

Can I just use screws and fill the holes or should I use wooden pins and glue?

2. I fill all the edges etc. wait till dry, sand then do it again and sand again.

What grit should I use?

3. I paint it with an undercoat.

How many layers?
Are there only white undercoats available?
What grit of paper between the layers?

4. I paint it with a wood paint (I'm thinking about black or red/purple).

How many layers?
What grit of paper between the layers and for the final layer?
Should I use gloss or mat?

5. After sanding a final layer of a paint I varnish it with 2pack floor varnih


For all the painting I just use a normal brush and a roller.
I don't have an orbit sander but I have an angle grinder and a backing pad.
 
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Do you think guys that I could achieve a smooth surface just using a roller?
You can get a relatively smooth finish, providing you use a short pile sheepskin roller cover - just as you would for oil glossing a door. Please note that a gloss finish is much easier to obtain than a high gloss one - hence my differentiation

1. Building a structure (25mm MDF)
Can I just use screws and fill the holes or should I use wooden pins and glue?
18mm - more readily available, lighter/cheaper than 25mm, stronger and more rigid than 12mm which is often only used for boxing-in pipework on a 2 x 1 framework. Recommend MR-MDF (moisture resistant/green core) - denser therefore crisper edges and easier to paint (less absorbent). Filler must be a 2-pack wood filler - 1-pack fillers and decorators acrylic/cellulose fillers tend to shrink over time and leave very noticeable dimples in the surfaces

2. I fill all the edges etc. wait till dry, sand then do it again and sand again.
What grit should I use?
Up to P240 at this stage. Start at P120 and work up on the first coat

3. I paint it with an undercoat.
How many layers?
Are there only white undercoats available?
What grit of paper between the layers?
Edges - 2 to 4 layers of undercoat, sanded to P240, more if you oversand and sand through (otherwise you'll get blotchy finish areas). Thin the first coat 50/50 as it will be absorbed a lot. Faces - 2 coats should be enough. Last coat or two should be denibbed NOT sanded

4. I paint it with a wood paint (I'm thinking about black or red/purple).
How many layers?
What grit of paper between the layers and for the final layer?
Should I use gloss or mat?
If you use gloss I'd go for one to two coats (minimum). No sanding between grits, just denib. I'd use gloss BUT DON'T OVERCOAT THE GLOSS WITH A CLEAR LACQUER - the materials may well not be compatible

I don't have an orbit sander but I have an angle grinder and a backing pad.
Far, far too aggressive for MDF - you'll sand straight through everything..... Either get a woodworking sander or buy a cork sanding "rubber" and do it by hand
 
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Again thank you for the reply!

I've decided to invest into a sander. What do you think about this one?

http://www.lawson-his.co.uk/makita-bo5041x1-5-random-orbital-sander-p150581

It seems to be just right for my needs.

I also decided (or rather my wife did) that the table will be white.

JobAndKnock - Could you please explain what exactly is denibing? English is my second language and sometimes I do not understand the meaning of some simple (for others) expressions. What does this process look like?

Another question: Do you think that I should use this:

http://www.restexpress.co.uk/acatalog/Rustins_Plastic_Coating.html

or that:

http://www.restexpress.co.uk/acatalog/Rustins_Plastic_Floor_Coating.html

I will also have to email Rustins and ask if I can use this plastic coating on paint.

Tomorrow night I should have a 3d project of the table ready.
 
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Could you please explain what exactly is denibing? English is my second language and sometimes I do not understand the meaning of some simple (for others) expressions. What does this process look like?
In the first coat or two of any applied finish onto a timber or any wood fibrebased material (e.g. MDF) the "grain" of the material tends to rise (caused by absorbtion of th finsih through the ends of fibres which subsequent swell) and you get surface roughness which must be cut back by sanding with a medium to fine sanding poaper. Once the fibres are properly sealed (2 to 4 coats) you will not get this swelling, but there can be (in fact probably will be) small particles of dust which fall onto the still wet surface from the atmosphere and become trapped. You can see or feel these are slight roughness here and there. These "pimples" are called "nibs" and removing them is therefore "de-nibbing". The higher the gloss the more noticeable these nibs become and the cleaner your finishing environment must be. Hence my comments about cleanliness above

Another question: Do you think that I should use Rustins Plastic Coating?
No need for the floor coatiing - that's only required for greater durability on a surface which will be walked upon. The plastic coating is really designed for application directly to stained timber, and not over a paint finish, so this is now becoming a bit experimental. You'll need to make-up a trial piece of MDF with all the finishing processes to find out if the plastic coating is compatibe with your chosen paint. If it isn't it will "ciss" or lift quite quickly. If you are going to apply a clear coat over the top of a colour coat I'd recommend that you choose a matt paint for the colour, not a gloss one, and you must be aware that neither the last colour coat nor the plastic coating can be denibbed - so everything must be vacuumed out before you start this phase. A matt piant will provide a better mechanical key for the clear coat to adhere to than a gloss. If the paints are not compatible it is possible to overcome this incompatibility, but let's leave that until you get there

One thing you may not be aware of is that Rustins used to (and may still do) make a burnishing cream for their plastic coating - used with a soft, clean, white cotton cloth this could be used to impart a higher gloss to the plastic, although still not what I'd call high gloss
 
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Thank you for a great answer JobAndKnock! So this is my plan:

1. I use 2 pack filler sand it with P120 to P240 check for any gaps etc. and fill and sand again if necessary.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B001GU2H6S?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00

2. I treat MDF with a primer undercoat. I give it 2 to 4 coats. Sand with the sander P240 between the coats but last coat only needs denibbing
http://www.screwfix.com/p/dulux-trade-trade-quick-drying-wood-primer-undercoat-white-1ltr/24583

3. I paint the table with 2 to 3 coats of satinwood paint denibbing but not sanding between the coats.
http://www.screwfix.com/p/dulux-trade-satinwood-gloss-paint-pure-brilliant-white-1ltr/13081

4. After testing for compatibility I cover the table with 2 to 3 coats of the plastic coating.

Questions:

Do you think that I should use a roller or a decent paintbrush? Good quality sheepskin rollers are quite dear and I don't think I'll be able to clean them efficiently.

I've had some research about the paintbrushes and the brand PURDY seems very good but pricey:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Purdy-Whi...ial_Paint_Varnish_MJ&var=&hash=item4ab4bb4106
WOOSTER brand seems okay too:
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Wooster-S...ial_Paint_Varnish_MJ&var=&hash=item43d297cbcd
Do you think that, if I choose to use a brush, it is worth it to spend some extra money on PURDY?


I've had some reading about Rustins barnishing cream but I cannot find it in the UK. However, depending on the plastic coating effect, I might do this:

1. Get some very fine wet & dry sanding paper and sand the coating with a sander.

2. Get a sponge for my angle grinder, buy some burnishing cream and polish the coating. I've sound some tutorials on youtube.
 
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Do you think that I should use a roller or a decent paintbrush? Good quality sheepskin rollers are quite dear and I don't think I'll be able to clean them efficiently.
You'll certainly get a very consistent finish off a sheepskin roller cover, but they can take a LOT of cleaning. The problem with using brushes is how well the material flows out and hides the brush strokes so you may need to thin the finish to achieve this. I do use Purdy synthetic bristle brushes - I find them very good on water-based finish.

However, depending on the plastic coating effect, I might do this:

1. Get some very fine wet & dry sanding paper and sand the coating with a sander.

2. Get a sponge for my angle grinder, buy some burnishing cream and polish the coating. I've sound some tutorials on youtube.
You shouldn't use abrasives such as wet and dry on clear coats - the scratches may well show through IMHO unless you are up over P800 grit. Between grits/processes always damp your surfaces (white spirits is better than water) and wipe down with a clean (well-washed) old cotton T-shirt rag (must be cotton, not synthetic). If you want to use a buffing compound use a foam mop head and a body polishing compound like Farecla or the 3M equivalent (these are trade car sprayer versions of the old Autosol and T-Cut compounds). Whatever you do you absolutely MUST keep the mop moistened with water (cheap 50p spritz plant bottle from Wilkos will do) - if it dries out it will scratch the surface horribly
 
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