My Finishing Process – Ask Matt #12

Surface prep is as important as applying a wood finish well.  If there are any defects in your workpiece, they will become painfully obvious once a finish is applied.  A good surface prep regimen is essential for a great finish.  My go to finish is Arm-r-Seal from General Finishes.  It is a wiping varnish that I apply with a rag.  I’ll typically apply 5 coats of finish.  The first coat I apply heavily, allowing the finish to soak into the wood.  I follow up each coat sanding with 600 grit sand paper.  For the last coat, I’ll more aggressively sand the dried 4th coat to fully clean up the surface and then I will apply a very light coat of finish.   This final coat of finish cleans up the scratch pattern from the sandpaper and restores the sheen.

This is the twelfth episode of my Ask Matt series where I answer broader topic questions.  If you have an idea for a topic for a future episode, please let me know.

Products Used
General Finishes Arm-r-Seal Semi-Gloss:
Painter’s Pyramids:

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17 Responses

  1. Matt watches your video. Doing a set of cabinets for my house. I noticed u only wait 4-6 hours before sanding. Is the finish not still slightly tacky. I would love to do the same but have been waiting 24 hours. If I could get in two coats a day that would be great! Are you adding a dryer.

  2. Do you ever thin your top coat with mineral spirits to make the finish even thinner? Does thinning a top coat ruin its durability?

  3. How come you don’t just use a polyurethane neet and apply with a brush? I’ve never heard of your technique using poly and linseed and mineral spirits together or using Arm-R-Seal. I dont know whether its available in Canada.

    I do like your results though.


  4. Have you noticed any changes in Arm-R-Seal? I used to apply it in a way similar to what you show and got excellent results. In the last year or so, I’m having trouble with getting cloudy, streaky results. I don’t see anything that I’ve changed in what I do and wonder if you’ve seen this. Usually, I use satin, but I think I’ve seen this with other sheens. Thanks for any ideas you might have about this.

  5. Great video on using arm, r. Seal, you certainly sold me on that excellent product. I now want to use it on some river tables I’m making. One problem I’m in England and can’t seem to find the product even on amazon. Any help with this would be great,thanks again.

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