When finishing a large flat surface, the temptation is to finish the top first. Inevitably, some varnish runs over the edge and soaks into the end grain. Even after you finish the edge, the soaked-in drips remain as dark shadows. No amount of re-coating takes care of it and you're faced with having to strip, sand and refinish.
Fortunately, the problem is easily avoided. Coat the end grain with a thinned coat of varnish before tackling the top. A mixture of two parts varnish to one part mineral spirits works well. The drips won't be able to soak in and leave their shadow.
top finished first drip shadow
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