Finish for a plywood topped dining table

Looking for some advice . . . I’m building a simple dining table (140 x 75cm) with a Birch plywood top and hairpin legs - no edging, the ply laminates visible as a feature.

I really don’t know what to finish the wood with - it’ll be used without a table cloth but with placemats/coaster and needs to be wipeable.

Browsing around on YouTube and Osmo PolyX oil 3032 (I think that’s the satin version) seems to be mentioned fairly frequently.

Any views and/or other suggestions please?


Hi Rob,
I made a pair of small Oak tables recently and as I don’t have spray finishing facilities in my workshop, I used Osmo oil for the first time. Personally I was not impressed; I don’t rate its durability either and would not consider it for a dining table.
I don’t know what facilities or experience you have, but to make a dining table top from a sheet of Birch plywood is a big ask. I would at least put a pencil round on the top edge and a small radius to the corners to soften the effect. Prior to finishing, I would hand sand it, finishing off with 180’s grit abrasive.
For finishing raw Birch Plywood, I would probably use a matt or semi-matt clear thinned varnish; the more matt it is will help to disguise imperfections and brush marks. Between coats I would lightly sand and remove the dust with a Tack Rag.

wood finishes direct give really good reliable advice

Thanks - I stumbled across them yesterday and I’ve got some samples en route.


Just to update - I made the table as planned (sharp, square edges - very “plywood” :+1: !) - and then used the remainder of the plywood sheet, and a few oddments to make a matching console table with a single drawer (both with chrome hairpin legs)
After quite a bit of testing with various finishes I opted for OSMO Top Oil 3068 - that’s the natural colour. So far so good (a couple of months of daily use) with the table surfaces - OSMO has a specific spray cleaner that we’ve used.

Osmo is very trendy these days and why not?’s pretty good stuff. Some years ago though, I used satin polyurethane (Ronseal I think) varnish on a walnut nest of tables and it gave a totally reliable, bullet and heat proof surface. I de-nibbed it between each coat (three in total) with some worn 320g paper and then finished the surface with some Liberon Burnishing Cream. Bear in mind, this finish was applied over two decades ago and the tables have received the normal use and abuse each evening. Thus far, the finish hasn’t needed to be touched up or replaced and is as good as the day it was applied.

I applied a total of 4 coats of the OSMO stuff to the plywood - first one with a soft paint brush, then the others with a lint-free rag. De-nibbed very gently between each coat with the OSMO recommended very, very fine “Scotchbrite” type pad.

Have to say we have stainless steel place-mats, coasters on the table - mainly for protection but they also work very well with the table legs, chair legs and some other stainless steel stuff in the kitchen.

I would strongly advise you to consider using a veneer. Particularly if the species matches the legs. This will also offer the top a more refined appearance, ensuring that you don’t end up with, instance, lovely cherry legs and a construction timber top.

You might need to perform a lot of sanding to get the surface looking great, based on the photograph on the Ace website. This appears to be a significant chipout, yet they choose to use it as an example. Most plywood’s are quite simple to sand through the initial layer, but if you plan on using veneer, this is less of a concern (just gotta worry about keeping things flat).
If you do decide to utilize veneer, keep in mind that chamfers and roundovers might be difficult to do with veneer.

I think this post mentioning veneer etc may be in the wrong thread?
My table, in the original post, has a birch plywood top and chrome steel hairpin legs. After about 16 months of daily use (kitchen/diner) the top finish is as good as new. It gets cleaned with a special OSMO product.

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