A stain doesn't protect the wood. It only changes the color. So after the Shaker Bench was assembled, I applied a top coat.
- Note: Whenever you use a water-based stain, be sure to give the stain time to dry completely before applying a top coat.
arm-r-seal. I use oil/ure-thane finishes a lot They're simply wiped on, and the excess wiped off. For the Shaker Bench, I wanted to use General Finishes' Arm-R-Seal because it has a higher percentage of urethane and hardens to a protective shell.
applying the top coat. It's best to apply an oil finish in several thin coats. Again I worked in large sections, but this time I used a foam brush. (You can use a rag.) Then I wiped it off with a clean rag almost immediately, always wiping with the grain. To allow both sides of the seat to expand and contract evenly with changes in humidity, finish the bottom of the seat too.
Note: If you find the oil is sticky when you wipe it off, it has already started drying. Simply add more oil and wipe it off immediately.
When the first coat of Arm-R-Seal had dried overnight, I applied a second coat. After it was dry, I lightly sanded the surface with 400-grit sandpaper (to smooth out the bumps) and followed up with one more coat.
Once that dried, I felt that the Bench had enough protection, but was a little glossier than I wanted. So I lightly rubbed out some of the gloss with 0000 steel wool.
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