I recently purchased a pine dining table and am now realizing I need to find a way to protect it from scratches - it is such a soft wood! Any suggestions on a protective finish that won't take away from the natural look? Any advice would be greatly appreciated...
There are a couple of ways to go. One way is to seal the wood using a sanding sealer (follow the directions and make sure the wood has been sanded smooth), and then follow up with at least 3 coats of polyurethane. There is a water-based polyurethane on the market that works quite well and does not require sanding between coats.
Almost forgot. A second way is to look into some of the finishing oils (made by Watco). These are normally kept up with a rejuvenating oil. I have not used them, but know people who have who swear by them.
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