After the table was assembled, the finish was in order. I applied a semi-gloss polyurethane to the legs and vertical face of the apron. For the top I wanted to do something a little more elegant and classy. I decided to do a hand-rubbed gloss polyurethane finish. The process to do this is extremely labor intensive. After scraping the top to a flat sheen I applied 3 thick coats of table top varnish with light sanding in between to ensure good cohesion. After the 3rd coat, I did a heavy sand to flatten the finish across the entire top. The next 3 layers were spirit coats, or highly thinned table top varnish, designed to go on extremely thin and flat due to the high solvent content at the expense of thickness. Because the thickness was already built up, this was not an issue. After the 3 coats were dry, it was time to rub out the top. Rubbing a finish is simply using a progressive system of grits and sanding block to flatten and then polish the surface. I began with 120 grit then moved on to 220, 300, 450, 800, 1200, 2000, and 2500. After this was done, I used automotive rubbing compounds for the final fine polish. These compounds could be substituted with linseed oil and pumice/rottenstone like they did in the old days.
After hours of rubbing, the final product was achieved.