Watch as Gedrys adds a topcoat of varnish to a table, sharing valuable tips along the way. This is step four in a five-part video refinishing series. Find links to the other video steps below. In this segment, Gedrys uses durable varnish to help the wood stand up to moisture and alcohol, such as from a spilled drink.

However, varnish dries slowly and attracts airborne particles like a magnet. To keep dust down, Gedrys says, clean your shop the night before finishing and sprinkle water on the floor the day you plan to varnish.

Other professional finishers use a variety of brushes for varnishing, but Gedrys reaches for a simple foam one. It holds the varnish well and doesn’t leave brush strokes. In the video, he shares techniques to reduce bubbles on a varnished surface.

But before he begins, Gedrys shares a quick tip about adding extra color depth by mixing a dye concentrate, like TransTint, to shellac.

There are a variety of varnishes on the market. To learn how they compare, watch this short video sidebar.

Expert finisher Peter Gedrys, of East Haddam, Conn. guides you through all the steps of refinishing furniture from stripping an old finish to putting the final touches on a new one. Also, become a member and chat with Gedrys about your finishing problems in Ask The Experts.


Remove an Old Finish

Step One: Stripping the Old Finish
Learn the best ways to remove a finish, safely

Prepping the surface



Step Two: Surface Preparation
How to create a smooth and clean surface, thwarting headaches down the road

Coloring with Shellac


Step Three: Sealing and Coloring with Shellac
Professional techniques for sealing and coloring wood. A shellac pad helps you lay down smooth, thin layers. See how to make one in a short video sidebar.

Armor of Varnish

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Step Four: Simple Techniques for Applying Varnish
Varnish is the perfect topcoat to repel moisture and alcohol. To learn how different varnishes compare, watch this short video sidebar.

Build a Round Table


Step Five: Rubbing Out the Finish
Take your finish to the next level with the often-skipped rubbing-out process