Woodworker West
Rubbing Out Arm R Seal Image Credit: Woodworker West
Rubbing Out Arm R Seal Image Credit: Woodworker West

Rubbing Out Arm R Seal & Questions

Rubbing Out Arm R Seal & Questions

David Marks


While I do lots of rubbing out techniques on lacquer, my approach to rubbing out General Finishes’ Arm R Seal is different. Lacquer is a much harder (or should I say brittle) finish and behaves differently. You can wet sand, and polish or buff lacquer with excellent results, because each layer melts into the previous one.

Arm-R-Seal is a family of urethane resin topcoats, which produce a durable and long-lasting finish. Oil-based, they are essentially a thinned down varnish, designed to be wiped on and wiped off. I always build all of my coats of finish with gloss, no matter if it is lacquer, varnish, oil, or polyurethane. In some cases when I want a satin finish, I will apply a coat of satin as the final coat. In other cases, I will use rubbing out techniques to dull down the finish.

My approach to Arm R Seal is to build all of the coats with gloss, wiping it on, wiping it off, then letting it dry overnight. The next day, I rub the surface with 0000 steel wool, blow the dust off, and apply another coat. My goal is to have the last coat looking perfect, after I finish carefully wiping it off and then buffing it with a clean, soft, cloth. Sometimes, Murphy's Law gets in the way, and things do not come out looking so great. If I have something in the finish that looks like it needs to be flattened, for example some specs of dust or maybe a hair from a brush or some dried resin, then I can usually level it w

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