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.