Can't get a smooth finish

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Forum topic by Tom posted 04-23-2019 03:31 AM 528 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tom's profile


182 posts in 1870 days

04-23-2019 03:31 AM

I’ve been working on two slab end tables. I’ve sanded them to 220 but when I put a coat of General Finish on it comes out streaked/bumpy. I’ve sanded them down, made sure to wipe them clean but I just can’t get it to look the way I want. I’ve also noticed that my can is getting a hard film on top of what’s in the can. Any suggestions on what I’m doing wrong? Is there an applicator (tried a nice brush and t-shirt) but neither works well.

I’m about to give up on that product and try something else.

4 replies so far

View bgood's profile


38 posts in 536 days

#1 posted 04-23-2019 04:22 AM

In the past I have had problems with fine (pre-finish) sanding then a blotchy finish. It appears the fine finish sanding (220 r/o) was polishing the harder exposed grain. I find now not to use a finer grit. Using 120 before applying my finish works well for me. Good luck.

View EarlS's profile


3785 posts in 3158 days

#2 posted 04-23-2019 11:50 AM

Tom – try straining your finish.

I’ve noticed that Arm-R-Seal gets thick, then lumpy in the can as it ages. At some point, it will set up in the can. I’ve learned that when it it starts getting viscous in the can it is time to use it up or throw it away.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View LesB's profile


2576 posts in 4253 days

#3 posted 04-23-2019 05:00 PM

General Finishes makes a big variety of products. You did not say which one you are using but if it is forming a film on top it is probably lacquer based. That type of finishing product will catalyze when exposed to oxygen so the only way to stop that from happening is to reduce the air space in the container of displace it with one of the nitrogen, or argon gas dispensers like Bloxygen. Next, how old is the finishing product? I would not use it if it is more than a year old and even less than that if it has been opened prior to this use. I think the “streaked/bumpy” results may be from the product being to old and degraded??? If that is not the case it may be that the ambient temperatures are high and it is drying quickly before it can level out. Even with new finish it often takes a couple of coats to produce a good looking coat.

Are your slabs a hard or soft wood. For a hard wood 220 grit sand paper is probably fine but a soft wood will need 320…which is better for both and some people even go to 400. My preference for this type of finishing is a water based polyurethane.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Tom's profile


182 posts in 1870 days

#4 posted 04-23-2019 06:58 PM

The slabs are hardwood, black acacia. I’m using the green Arm-R-seal and the can was unopened but had been in the garage a while and the weather has been getting warmer. Since I’ve had to re-do these a few times the can is 3/4 empty…so I’m going to toss it. The next table will just get BLO on it and then I’ll decide if I want to put poly on it or wax.

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