The time had finally come to add the high gloss bar top lacquer and seal in all the coins and badges into the bar top. The first thing that needed to be done in preparation was to give the slabs a good sand to remove all the pencil marks that I had used to line the coins up, and also to remove the top layer of wood that appeared to have oxidised and darkened in colour, not to mention had gotten a bit dirty. I removed the coins and hit the slabs with some 120 grit paper by hand, and then 160 grit with an orbital sander to bring out the nice red colour of the Jarrah.
I then spent a bit of time polishing up the brass “K” and cleaning the coins up a bit before they got locked in the lacquer. To ensure that they didn’t move during the lacquering process, I put a small amount of liquid nails under each coin and carefully straightened them.
With the help of a good friend who had some experience working with the bar top lacquer, we carefully taped up all the cracks in the edges of the slabs, as well as the bottoms of the cracks that went all the way through. The purpose of this was to prevent having areas where the lacquer could flow straight through and draw lacquer in from surrounding areas. We then applied a sealant coat of the lacquer thinly over the slabs and worked it in thoroughly. Being quite old slabs of wood with lots of imperfections, they sucked up a lot of lacquer dying the sealant coat, and created a lot of bubbles.
We weren’t particularly concerned with surface imperfections in the sealant coat, however we needed to get every bubble possible out of the lacquer. In the photos below a butane torch is being used to apply heat to the slabs to expand any trapped air and let it bubble through the lacquer and pop out. Owing to all the imperfections in the wood, coupled to the fact that I had created a lot of new spaces to trap air with the inlaying of everything, this was a lengthy process, and we didn’t get every last bubble out.
After the sealant coat had set to a tacky state (3-4hrs) we poured on a second, generous coat of lacquer, allowing it to flow freely over the edges. It’s important that you’ve prepared the area for this, I used a bunch of old plastic couch covers to catch the drips. Once again, a butane torch was used to remove all the bubbles that we could, and then it was time to walk away and let the lacquer set overnight.
After about 24 hours the lacquer had set hard enough to handle so I loosely positioned the slabs back on the bar to see what the finished product will look like. I had originally thought of biscuit joining the three slabs together and having one continuous bar top, however after a bit of thought decided to do three individual pieces instead. The main reason for this was that I will likely move in the future and want to take the bar top with me, and one continuous piece would be far to cumbersome and heavy. Whilst I think it would have looked excellent, I don’t think I lose much appeal having the two joins in the bar top, and once I fit it all properly they should be even less noticeable. I’m extremely happy with the outcome, especially the rich red colour of the Jarrah through the lacquer. There are a number of surface imperfections from bubbles, and at some point in the future I might wet sand the slabs back and polish them up for a better finish, but for now they’re perfect.
Next step will be to create a fascia to cover the back edges of the slabs, then the bar will be nearing completion!
Cheers for looking, dan.