My Finishing Process for Woodworking- Ask Matt #12

Surface prep is as important as applying a 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.

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:

Support What I Do:



The Secretary Doors:
Grain Patterns:
Sculpted Ladle:

20 Replies to “My Finishing Process for Woodworking- Ask Matt #12”

  1. In the video you flip the board right after putting on a coat of finish. Don’t the triangles that you place it on leave marks in the finish?

  2. this stuff is absolutely amazing! I have used quite a few different types of poly from water based to spar urethane of a several different brands but nothing comes close to being as easy to apply with wayyy better results than anything I have ever used. It really can't get any more fool proof than Arm-r-seal. No tacky drips or stroke marks as it self levels, most of the sanding areas that didn't absorb as well disappear with extra coats. First time I used this product too because of this video, Although I have used other general finish products this one is the most impressive I have tried probably because it's a wipe on oil based product with more clarity and durability than most brands.

  3. How long does it take for the finish to stop off gassing? I finished a set of drawers with another brand of wipe on product and let it cure for 3 weeks. The smell was still painfully apparent when the draws were enclosed in a cabinet and lasted for more than a month. Had to strip and sand the wood to get rid off the smell. Enjoyed your video as always.

  4. Question. What’s the final step after 1000 grit sanding? I assume it will leave a light scratch pattern. Paste wax? Thx

  5. What I never get is the last sanding that people do with a finish like this. I've tried it many times and with very high grits, like 1000 as you mentioned, but it always causes small scratch marks that ruin the finish in my opinion. Then you get into a situation where you have to sand a bit heavier than you'd like to and be careful to hit every single little nook and cranny because the appearance is now altered. I don't chance any more. If there are nibs I usually just wax it vigorously with a soft cloth and that gets rid of them for the most part.

  6. Matt, I was told General Finishes changed their formula for the sheens in the finish. The Satin is now more glossy than previously. Is that true? I saw a comparison someone posted and it looked pretty different for sure. I kind of like a almost dull sheen. What is your take on this? Have you noticed and difference over the past 2 years with the formula?

  7. Hang on. The instructions say to wait 24-72 hours before a re-coat. But you only wait 4 to 6 hours. How does that work? Did you have a heater in the room or add a catalyst?

  8. Professional woodworking, "Awesome"Very well explain and clear, Keep up the good work (Sorry woodworking).

  9. Matt, what is the cloth you used for both the wipe on and the mineral spirits? It looked like cheese cloth or something similar?

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