Q: I built a coffee table and would like to finish the wood with a clear coat. My neighbor recommends that I first seal the wood before applying the clear coat. Is this necessary?
A: Using a wood sealer, such as clear shellac, penetrates deeply into the wood fiber to encourage a more even top coat by preventing the wood from absorbing finish at different rates in different spots. The sealer flattens the wood surface and improves the adhesion of the top coat. Apply the sealer with a brush or sprayer, allow it to dry and then lightly sand with a very fine-grit abrasive, before applying the top coat. A single coat of sealer should suffice.