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I'm trying to make a desktop out of beech wood (Ikea Gerton table top) and want the wood finish to look like this example photo... A very light natural, matte look.

How could I achieve this while still protecting the wood from water spills, etc..? I'm afraid to apply a sealant that will make it more glossy or change the color. Thanks!

Wood Look

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    Agree with the Answer posted by that waterbased finishes are likely your best bet here for minimal colour change, the standard types (untinted) are "water white" and minimally change the colouring and tone of lighter woods. However I strongly recommend you don't use sanding to try to remove the factory-applied oiling. You will have to sand a little bit, but it's much preferable to try to remove as much of the oil as possible beforehand using successive rounds of wiping with mineral spirits and plenty of clean paper towels or rags. – Graphus May 25 '18 at 11:17
  • Thanks. Do you not recommend sanding so as not to change the original coloring? The original coloring is actual a little more orange and glossier than I would prefer so I was thinking if I sand then it would get rid of that from the oil coating that is already applied. – Michael May 25 '18 at 15:29
  • No, Like some woodworkers before me have said, I didn't take up woodworking to turn wood into dust. That's my starting point when it comes to trying to do minimal sanding :-) Now my philosophical position aside, sanding is in fact the worst way to remove a previous finish. Sure if it's the only option available then it's the only option, but while not everyone has a plane anyone can set themselves up with a scraper (if necessary using a knife blade, or cut glass) and scraping beats the pants off sanding for most jobs, on flat surfaces it's so much more efficient there's simply no contest. – Graphus May 25 '18 at 17:48
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In general you'd want water based finishes in satin or even matte. Oil based finishes tend to add an orange tint to the wood, even if the finish is not colored. Water based finishes are much more transparent, and will have much less impact on the natural color of the wood. Water based polyurathanes are your best bet.

Specifically for the Ikea Gerton, according to Ikea's website, it comes pre-oiled. This means that a water based finish will have trouble adhering to the wood. Ideally you should sand the table to bare wood, then finish with the water based finish. Note that sanding the wood to remove the oil will probably change the appearance of the table top (up to you to decide if this is for the better or not).

  • Sanding would also be really finicky to avoid hitting the supports. – WhatRoughBeast May 27 '18 at 1:37
  • @WhatRoughBeast I believe the picture OP shared is an illustration of the color. The Ikea Gerton is a plain table top. – Eli Iser May 27 '18 at 14:13

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