General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Satin vs Semi Gloss- Coats?


Stara
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I am currently doing some staining projects- a bar, a buffet and a hutch. I am wondering what type of finish to use.  I am currently using General Finishes JQ Gel Stain in Java, 3 wipe on coats.   I am looking for a smooth glossy but not a reflection shine for the top coat finish of the pieces.   I plan on using General Finishes Arm-R-Seal for the top coat.  I heard that you can do 2 coats of semi gloss first and then one coat of satin at the end, to give it a good look.  As any one mixed it up like this?  What have you done?  I heard that if you do 3 coats of the satin alone it will look a little dull.  What would you recommend?

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I've personally had luck with multiple coats of semi gloss looking OK.  I've never done it with satin. The theory is that anything other than gloss has 'flatteners' added into it, to give it a duller (or less glossy) surface; that and multiple coats could build up to slightly obscure the underlying wood.  So - to eliminate the chance of it, apply several gloss coats for the clarity, and then finish with a semi gloss or satin to get the benefit of the desired sheen without the cloudy buildup.

Like most things - this is totally in the eye of the beholder, so I'd suggest that you get a scrap would prepped and stained as your project - and then try both methods and see if you notice any difference.

 

 

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I have done multiple coats of satin arm-r-seal on cherry and hard maple. I have no complaints about the finish. I have been told by folks in person and online that if you do the semi-gloss first the grain comes out looking a little "sharper." I think this is the kind of thing where you would need to have two pieces done under both systems side by side and then give them a very long and very careful lookover before you could tell the difference. /shrug

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Having always read that you should start with a few coats of gloss first, I did that and had some streaking issues applying the 3rd coat of satin Arm-R-Seal.  I contacted GF and they said to never do that, as it will perpetuate the streaking issues some people report experiencing with the Satin version.  I tried all of Marc's recommendations regarding avoiding the streaking and nothing seemed to help in my project, which was a giant table top.  I ended up getting it "good enough" and didn't fully test their advice to see if that would make a difference.  I didn't have the streaking on the smaller pieces.  

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I've never experienced a "dulling effect" building a finish with only satin.  It should be added to Mike's list of woodworkers chasing that final 1%...the human eye simply cannot see the difference...at least my human eyes can't and I have 20/20 vision.

The only time I would use gloss or semi-gloss under satin is if I had some extra finish that I needed to use up before it went bad.  And that doesn't happen often because I use satin 95% of the time...for every coat.

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