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Thread: Arm-R-Seal questions

  1. #1
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    Arm-R-Seal questions

    Never used it, so could use some insight on a few items:

    First - I had a miserable experience with Waterlox Satin. How does the Arm-R-Seal Satin perform, in terms of a flat, "non-swirly" finish via wipe on?

    Second - to wipe on, what is suggested thinning ratio?

    Third - can it be used on top of Behelens, after, say, a couple days and a scuff sanding?

    Last - How long do you wait between wipe-on coats?

    Thanks.... I am looking to get to a satin finish on what will be some complicated pieces, and the rub-out alternative would take beyond forever, so that option is off the table.

  2. #2
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    What's wrong with the Waterlox?
    Behlen's
    is a quality phenolic resin varnish better than any poly in my book.

    Arm-seal is poly.

    What are you building?
    Last edited by Scott Holmes; 04-02-2012 at 4:37 PM.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  3. #3
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    >>>> First - How does the Arm-R-Seal Satin perform, in terms of a flat, "non-swirly" finish via wipe on?

    These are application technique questions. Arm R Seal is formulated as a wiping varnish right out of the can. Here is the proper wipe-on technique.

    The number of coats in a given day is not important. Important is to apply a wet coat with an applicator and merely get it on. Think of a 16 year old kid working as a busboy at Denny's you have sent over to wipe off a table. Sort of rub/swirl the the material on like you would if you were applying a paste wax. Don't attempt any straight strokes. The applicator should be wet but not soaked. The applicator can be a non-embossed paper towel shop towel, half a T-shirt sleeve or that one sock left after a load of washing. Once applied,leave it alone. The surface should not be glossy or wet looking and, if applied correctly, there should be no "brush stroke" type marks. If you have missed a spot, ignore it - you will get it on the next coat. If you try and fix a missed spot you will leave a mark in the finish.

    Timing for a second coat involves the pinkie test. Touch the surface with your pinkie. If nothing comes off you are ready for another coat. If was tacky 5 minutes ago but not now, apply your next coat just as you applied the previous coat. Remember, you are wet wiping, not flooding. After applying the second coat, let it fully dry for 48 hours. Using 320 paper and a sanding block lightly sand the surface flat. Now, begin applying more coats. Do not sand between coats unless you have allowed more than 24 hours to elapse since the prior coat. The number of coats is not critical - there is no critical or right number to apply. For those who need a rule, four more coats on non-critical surfaces or six more coats on surfaces that will get abraded seems to work.

    After your last coat has dried at least over night you will have boogers in the surface. You should not have marks in the surface because you ignored application flaws. You may have dust, lint and, if you live in Texas, bug legs. Use a utility knife blade at this point. Hold it between your thumb and forefinger, near the vertical, and gently scrape the surface. Gentle is the important word - no harder than you would scrape your face. If you start scraping aggressively you will leave small cut marks in the surface. After you have scraped to the baby butt stage gently abrade the surface with 320 dry paper or a gray ScotchBrite. Clean off the surface. Now, leave the area for two hours and change your clothes. Apply your last coat with a bit more care than the previous coats and walk away.

    An anal person is going to have a tough time with this process. Missed spots have to be ignored. Wet wipe, don't flood. Scraping to babies butt smooth means scraping no harder than scraping a babies butt. Ignoring any of these will leave marks that are tough to get out. Getting these marks out requires some aggressive sanding to flatten out the surface and starting over.

    Finally, It works better to use a gloss varnish for all coats except the last. The flatteners in semi-gloss and satin tend to rapidly fall out of suspension when the finish is highly thinned. If you want a non-gloss finish, use it only on the final coat or two and be sure to stir the material frequently or you will end up with cloudy streaks.

    >>>> Second - to wipe on, what is suggested thinning ratio?

    Arm R Seal is already thinned to the proper wiping consistency right out of the can.

    >>>> Third - can it be used on top of Behelens, after, say, a couple days and a scuff sanding?

    Yes, but you must let the Behlens fully dry for at least 5-7 days and then thoroughly scuff sand it.

    >>>> Last - How long do you wait between wipe-on coats?

    See above. Re-coat as soon as the finish passes the "pinky" test.

    Thanks.... I am looking to get to a satin finish on what will be some complicated pieces, and the rub-out alternative would take beyond forever, so that option is off the table.
    Howie.........

  4. #4
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    Scott.......I had a miserable time.....wiped-on the Wlox Satin - blue towel, kid at Denny's, etc.......and in a sharp-angle light there are residual swirls. I tried it more like tipping-off, and then there were streaks/striations. Simply could not get a "flat" finish. Couple other guys here pretty much teed off on the satin for similar reasons. I am hoping for a satin finish out of a can that will hep me avoid the streaKs/swirls. I used Behlen's gloss for the finish, and then went with the satin for the last coat.

  5. #5
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    I can't speak for how Arm-R-Seal will go over another finish, but I have used it a lot over various dyes and stains. Arm-R-Seal may be urethane based, but it works great, looks great, and seems very durable in the pieces I've used it on. That's good enough for me. My process is different than Howard's in some important ways. As Howard said, Arm-R-Seal is already thinned, so don't thin it more. If you have stained the piece make sure the stain is completely dry before putting on your first coat of Arm-R-Seal, at least 48 hours in most cases for solvent based ones, possibly longer depending upon the temperature and airflow. I put on each coat of Arm-R-Seal pretty much the same way. I apply it with Scott's Rags-in-a-box paper towels. I think they are far better than using cloth; the paper towel doesn't hold as much finish which is good, doesn't leave any lint, and gives a streak free finish when you wipe it. I don't flood on the first coat as some do, I just wipe it on and go back over any dry spots with more until it all looks about the same. The first coat doesn't set up that fast, IME, so you have time to go back over it for several minutes. I let the first coat dry about 24 hours, regardless of whether or not it feels dry, then I sand it lightly with 320 grit just to take off the nibs, being very careful if the piece was stained. I like 3M's thin sanding sponges best, backed with a rubber sanding block. I vacuum everything off after sanding, then wipe it with a tack cloth. I apply the next coat the same way, wait 24 hours and sand again. You will notice that the second coat sets up more quickly than the first, and you can't go back over it much, once or twice and leave it be. If I'm in a hurry, I might only have to wait 12 hours for the second coat to dry. If you can sand it w/o the sandpaper gumming up, it's ready. If the piece is not going to be used hard, the third or fourth coat may be the last. It it will see hard use, I may put on 5 or 6 coats, depending upon the wood type. If I want a satin finish, I use satin for every coat. IME Arm-R-Seal tends to get glossier the more coats you put on, which is why I use satin for every coat and apply as few as possible. Anyway, by the third coat the finish will start to set up very quickly so you have to work fast on large surfaces. Wipe it on, go over once or twice with the grain, and leave it be. If it looks uniform now while wet, it should dry to a streak free finish. If you are working in a low dust environment, it should feel pretty darned smooth, too. When you have all the coats on that you want I let it sit for at least a week to cure. It really does get harder over time. After a week, I "sand" it with a brown paper bag to eliminate any dust nibs. That's it.

    John

  6. #6
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    John...

    It was your post on the Stickley cabinet that brought the Arm-R-Seal to the front of my mind, and prompted the question.

    Thnx for the explanation.

    Kent

  7. #7
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    >>>> .and in a sharp-angle light there are residual swirls.

    Most often that a result if there was too much finish on your wiping rag or if you went back over the wet surface before it dried. Of course, the first application will not look very good. Apply two coats, let them fully dry and then flat sand the surface with 320 paper on a felt or rubber faced sanding block. Then apply two to three additional wiped on coats. It will look much better with 3-5 coats applied.

    Trying to "tip off" as you would with a brush is not a good idea. It will not result in a smooth surface in most cases.
    Howie.........

  8. #8
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    Not to derail your thread Kent, but I've used Waterlox a number of times with great success (in my book at least). I apply it pretty heavily with a foam brush across the grain, then brush with the grain for consistency. It doesn't look glass smooth at this point, but the thing I love about W'lox is how it self levels. Good luck with the Arm-R-Seal!

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