This past weekend I wrapped up finishing the frame components and started working on the table top and bottom shelf.
Since I had a large can of gloss poly I started with that. I applied two coats, sanding in between. This built up a nice durable finish but was a bit glossier than desired (shown above). I then applied a final coat of satin poly which turned out great.
With the frame for the table finished I moved on to prepping the lumber for the table top and shelf.
I started by sorting through the rough lumber to find boards that would yield the long clear pieces needed for the 24"x48" top or slightly smaller shelf. I then went through the promising boards and cut pieces to rough length. Since the my jointer is only 6" wide I had to then rip the boards down to pieces 2"-5" wide.
Next I flattened one face of each board on the jointer and then ran them through the planer just enough to remove all the rough sawn marks on all the boards (this ended up being about 7/8" thick).
Since the rough sawn boards were initially VERY rough ( I think they were actually milled by a beaver wearing dentures) this is really the first point that I could actually see the grain and other features of each board.
I laid out all the boards to check them over and select the nicest and most similar pieces for the table top. In the picture above you can see that I also applied some mineral spirits to the wood to bring out the color of each board so that I can try to achieve a relatively consistent grain and color for the table top. The boards that don't quite make the cut for the top will then be down sorted to the shelf. Since the table top is the most important and demanding in terms of wood quality I really should have started this process at the very beginning of this project and selected the best wood for the top, seconds for the shelf, and then utilize the rest for the frame....lesson learned.