I'm at the point where I'm about to apply varnish to a burled redwood table top. What's best to bring out the details of the burl?
Something of a followup to a question I posted last year
and also related to a question posted by Felix
I started with a somewhat damaged / wavy piece of burled redwood (image here
) that I got on the cheap from a flea market. Rather than attempt to fix the warping, I'm calling it "character" and am focusing on finishing the top of the piece. I used a gel stripper to remove varnish on the top of item then sanded both sides up to 150grit.
The bark was too difficult to remove the varnish effectively so I basically used (at the recommendation of the hardware store clerk, who said using only stain wouldn't "stick" over the old varnish) a dark stain with some polyurethane in it to re-cover the bark and thus stain/varnish the entire edge with a dark shade that covers up any of the damaged areas where bits of bark were chipped off. The edge is somewhat glossy, but otherwise looks alright. My hope is that the end-state of the table will make the gloss bark stand out less.
My question is: what kind of varnish or stain procedure should I use to a) bring out any of the burl in the wood, b) seal the entire piece and c) even out the glossiness of the edge.
My thought was to re-sand the top and bottom to clean up the stain-job I did on the bark then go over both sides (do I need to do both sides?) and the bark with clear polyurethane coats. Will that be enough or should I use a varnish with some color in it to bring out the wood? I'd like to do it this weekend -- is the Minwax I find at Home Depot good enough for the job? And do I need to go over the bark again since I already stain/varnished it?