Marc was right...

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Review by Texasgaloot posted 06-20-2008 05:45 PM 12956 views 4 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Marc was right... No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’m really sort of an old tools kind of guy, and therefore I’m never very enthusiastic when the time comes to use a poly finish. As a matter of fact, I lurk on another list where we refer to this stuff polyurinate. I’ll use shellac or French Polish in a heartbeat. Now, I’ve used the Minwax poly by the gallon for past projects, and I first picked up a quart of the Minwax water based poly from the big blue bigbox store in order to finish out a client’s library table. And this is the case: the client has a library table that is a family heirloom. The top is maple with breadboard ends, the legs, drawer, etc. is all maple, but the top has a boockmatched walnut veneer on it. All obviously done by an amateur, but that is neither here nor there. The client wanted the piece refinished to present to a family member, and this included repairing some water damage from an air conditioner that couldn’t hold it’s water. It also included making sure the piece isn’t as vulnerable to water in the future. I’ve therefore elected to poly only the top, leaving the rest of the piece it’s original shellac.

Have at it! Removed old finish, obviously shellac (best part of the piece!) Repaired veneer chips. Added coat of boiled linseed oil, and a coat of orange shellac just to make the grain dance. Added a coat of Minwax poly. No bueno. Sanded and tried again, with equally dismal results. Back down to raw veneer. And then I remembered how much Marc Spagnuolo (The Wood Whisperer) liked General Finishes wiping poly. So I picked up a quart of that.

Marc was right.

This poly wipes on – I’m using discarded a T-shirt. It applies evenly, doesn’t leave streaks, runs, or dry spots, and really seems to enhance the grain (rather than disguise it.) It is really leaving a clear, as opposed to slightly cloudy, finish. I’m trying the gloss right now (with the idea that if I don’t like it that glossy, one coat of semi-gloss will do it for me.) It is more expensive than the other stuff, but the $5.00 is more than offset by the saved frustration. Hopefully the client will agree.

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View Texasgaloot's profile


465 posts in 4760 days

18 comments so far

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4945 days

#1 posted 06-20-2008 06:32 PM

Thanks for the review!

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4827 days

#2 posted 06-20-2008 06:57 PM

thanks for the review. I use almost all general finished products and they have all equally impressed me. i still have the half used can of Minwax that i bought about 6 months ago from before i tried Arm-R-Seal. you should try the seal-a-cell too. thats a great product. they have a really nice Natural Danish Oil (I love it) their stains are top quality, and their dyes are hard to beat. thanks for the review!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 4881 days

#3 posted 06-20-2008 08:18 PM

Thanks for the review. I am a fan of wipe on finishes. I will have to try this one.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Bob N's profile

Bob N

131 posts in 4986 days

#4 posted 06-21-2008 01:46 AM

I have been using GF products for the last 2 years and have been extremely satisfied with the results. I am only a hobbiest WW, but I like quality results and GF has yet to let me down.

View Joey's profile


276 posts in 4875 days

#5 posted 06-21-2008 02:36 AM

I’ve used it before. It compares to a custom tung oil blend with how it makes the grain stand out. My only problem I had with it is that it would start to polermerize(harden) not long after opening the can. this was 3 years ago and I haven’t used it since. I tried contacting GF but they never got back with me.
The wipe on aspect of it is great, but since then I got my hands on some pure tung oil grown right here in Ms right before Katrina took them out.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 4889 days

#6 posted 06-21-2008 03:46 AM

I have been using this product for the past 4 years for a number of different cabinetry/furniture projects and I have been very satisfied with it. I apply it with a foam brush to large surfaces,as I find that a t shirt tends to take too much off.

I am currently building a large entertainment center in my newly finished basement, and today I bought a gallon of the Satin finish!

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6874 posts in 5039 days

#7 posted 06-21-2008 05:02 AM

Sounds like a finish I’ll have to keep in mind.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14189 posts in 5042 days

#8 posted 06-22-2008 01:47 AM

Arm-r-seal is what I used on my coffee table about a dozen years ago. Stands up like iron.

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1930 posts in 4731 days

#9 posted 06-22-2008 03:56 AM

I had the same experience with Poly’s. I don’t like them much. I use Armor Seal almost exclusively, unless I am using tung oil. I wish I knew how to mix, and apply shellac. I really want to try it one day.

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View Texasgaloot's profile


465 posts in 4760 days

#10 posted 06-22-2008 05:42 AM

Matt: the shellac us much easier than you might think. I use the flake form. I stick some flakes in the bottom of a glass jar, just cover them with denatured alcohol, put the lid on the jar, and go to bed. The next morning, I start swirling the jar every time I walk by it, and keep doing that until the flakes are melted. That’s good for a very rough “one pound cut.” I usually begin to add more alcohol, until I get Mack’s three pound-ish cut. There are better ways to do this, but this works great for me. Apply with a foam brush, or French polish. Buff with 4-0 steel wool between coats. Piece of cake!

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View USCJeff's profile


1065 posts in 5127 days

#11 posted 06-23-2008 04:54 AM

Agreed. I’ll add that the gel variant is used a lot in my shop. There are trade-offs though. The gel isn’t quite as clear and obscures the look slightly. I only notice when holding the gel and thinned versions side by side though. Given that, I use gel when blotching is an issue and thinned stuff when not. Maple, Cherry, and pine see the gel a lot.

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


605 posts in 5243 days

#12 posted 06-23-2008 06:40 PM

Glad it worked out for you man! If you can believe it, when applied very carefully (and lightly, I might add), the finish actually resembles lacquer. I just finished a small entertainment center and once I brought it into the house, I started to see that the finish looked very similar to many of my lacquered pieces in everyday lighting. That’s a great thing coming from a poly-based product. Thanks for the review and good luck!


-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 4782 days

#13 posted 06-24-2008 06:37 AM

I started using GF Arm-R-Seal a few years ago at the suggestion of the manager at the KC Woodcraft store. I really like using it…almost exclusively now at this point, except when I’m trying to preserve the color of a wood like purpleheart, then I use GF’s waterbased UV protection wipe-on. It’s great too and dries even quicker.

I buy the poly-blend by the gallon, but since I mostly create small projects, I’ll immediately go to the local hardware store and buy 4 new empty quart-size paint cans and transfer it to these cans so I can keep most of it sealed until I use it. I’ll take a Sharpie and mark each can with the content and date purchased.

-- Martin, Kansas

View trimmer's profile


90 posts in 4500 days

#14 posted 12-29-2008 03:31 AM

I have used GF seal-a-cell , on a Ash day bed. Did it 10 yrs. ago, looks as good today as it did when i finished it.
The day bed gets heavy use. Very happy with GF’s finishes.
By the way does anyone know where i can get GF’s Endoro clear acrylic finish here in the Tampa,Florida area???

View jeff_wenz's profile


152 posts in 4610 days

#15 posted 10-22-2010 08:14 PM

Has anyone sprayed this? I have a crib project with waaaaaaay too many slats to be wiping.

-- Jeff, North Carolina

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