Did I tell you how much I hate finishing?

I have a small shop. It resides in my garage. I don’t have room or the resources for a “finishing room.” So my choices for finishing boil down to those I can wipe or brush on. But I’ve never had much success with brush-on finishes either.

I remember in my younger years watching my dad lay down a flawless finish using a brush. Back then, he used a lot of oil-based polyurethane finish (for kitchen cabinets, mostly). He learned the art of maintaining a wet edge, not brushing the finish once it’s laid down, and all the other techniques that are more art than science.

My experience, however, with the same finish was…ugly. Brush strokes and dry areas where there was no finish was the norm for me. I could never get the knack of it.

So I was relieved when wipe-on varnishes came along. But I have to be careful with those, too. I learned that even though the instructions say you can use a foam brush, I’ve had better and smoother results applying it with a cotton cloth. With a foam brush application, I would often end up with drips and runs. And you couldn’t see them until the film was dry. Very aggravating. So my technique involves several thin layers of the wipe-on finish. Yes, it takes longer, but the results are worth it.

If I use a stain or boiled linseed oil first, I make sure it dries for at least 24 hours or more. Then I apply a thin coat of wipe-on varnish. I like General Finishes Arm-R-Seal. After about six hours, I lightly sand with 400-grit paper. Then I apply at least two more coats to build up the film.

General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat
Arm-R-Seal topcoats are made with only the highest quality urethane resin, making them extremely durable and long lasting.

Choose from Satin, Semi-Gloss and Gloss.
Available in Pint, Quart and Gal..

General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat

I don’t normally like to use a “plastic” finish for most of my pieces, but where durability and ease of application is required, a wipe-on varnish is a great solution.