My Finishing Process – Ask Matt #12

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:

  • Matty King
    Posted at 17:33h, 13 December Reply

    How long in between each coat?

  • Paul Spooner
    Posted at 17:39h, 28 April Reply

    Great finishing summary! Have you considered building a clean room so you don’t get dust nibs?
    Also, love the beard trick.

    • Matt Cremona
      Posted at 04:51h, 25 May Reply

      Thanks! At this point, I don’t really have the space for one. The nibs aren’t too bad. They’re plenty manageable with a little sandpaper 🙂

  • Matt Cremona | Finish and Mattress Support – JR’s Bed Part 5
    Posted at 19:45h, 01 May Reply

    […] On to finish.  I applied 5 coats of Arm-r-Seal.  I’ve detailed this application process in the past. […]

  • Heath Bragg
    Posted at 03:37h, 20 June Reply

    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.

  • Ben Alexander
    Posted at 21:10h, 15 August Reply

    When finishing cherry or alder how do you take care of the ‘splotches’ ? Sealer? Condtioner?

    • Matt Cremona
      Posted at 22:04h, 20 August Reply

      I used to worry about it and use a sealer before applying finish but its not something I worry much about any more.

  • Matt Cremona | Bookmatched Elm Crotch Bartop
    Posted at 15:58h, 08 October Reply

    […] Now for some finish.  I applied 5 coats of Arm-r-Seal with a rag, sanding between each coat with 600 grit sandpaper.  A much more detailed explanation of this process can be found here. […]

  • John Hilgeman
    Posted at 13:15h, 22 April Reply

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

    • Matt Cremona
      Posted at 23:52h, 24 April Reply

      I haven’t felt the need to thin it. It’s pretty thin out of the can.

  • Michael J Hach
    Posted at 03:12h, 30 January Reply

    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.


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