Danish oil with Arm R Seal incompatibility???

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Forum topic by Michigander posted 09-14-2015 06:07 PM 1923 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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220 posts in 2418 days

09-14-2015 06:07 PM

I am making a table of Spalted maple with a border of Ambrosia maple. I wanted a natural finish so I gave it 3 coats of Watco Danish Oil for a little color. I let it dry for almost 3 weeks (it dried completely and was fine when I prepped it for top coat with 4OOO steel wool) and then began applying a top coat of General Finishes Arm R Seal, Oil & Urethane Top Coat. After the first coat I noticed some dry spots, but I thought that I must have missed brushing in those spots, though I was sure I didn’t. I let that dry about 30 hours and applied a second coat of Arm-R Seal. The pictures show that there are clearly large areas where the urethane refused to cover. The spots in the pictures feel absolutely dry and you can tell there is no urethane in that area. It’s like pouring oil in a pot of water, it just repels the Urethane in those spots. The base of the table is also made from ambrosia maple, and the urethane covered just fine. I’m thinking that because my issue is on the table top and I applied the Danish oil on a horizontal surface, the wood absorbed more Danish oil in spots, thus preventing the Urethane from adhering. I have used this exact pair; Watch Danish oil / General Finishes Arm R Seal Oil top Coat on other small projects and it has worked beautifully.
Regardless of the reason for failure, What can I do to fix this table top? I have some General Finishes Water based Top Coat. My thought is that because it is not an oil, it might stick?? Also, what about shellac? I’ve heard shellac will stick to anything.
Your suggestions are very much appreciated. I am visiting my son and his wife this weekend and planned to deliver their wedding present at that time so I really would like to get this fixed this week!!!!
Thank You,

3 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4986 posts in 2492 days

#1 posted 09-14-2015 08:44 PM

I’m not sure it’s a compatibility issue. Watco is simply a very thin varnish (according to Flexner), and as I recall it’s an alkyd resin varnish. Arm R Seal is also just a varnish, albeit one made with urethane resins. There’s no reason it wouldn’t adhere to the Watco, so I’m wondering what else might be causing the problem. It’s possible that you just need more coats of the Arm R Seal. If you remain convinced it’s an adhesion problem, then a dewaxed shellac would solve that, s you indicated, shellac will stick to anything. Anytime a urethane is involved (urethanes inhibit adhesion slightly) it pays to use dewaxed shellac. Not much help I suppose, but something to consider.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View John's profile


244 posts in 1580 days

#2 posted 09-14-2015 08:49 PM

I have used arm r seal over danish before and had no issues. I hope you can fix the table in time. Good luck, I’m sure it’ll work out.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2418 days

#3 posted 09-25-2015 07:20 PM

I called General Finishes factory and talked with tech rep. He said the wood was just soaking up the urethane and if I kept putting it on it would saturate and be just fine. He suggested that to speed things up to apply a brush on style of urethane which is thicker than the wipe on GF I was using. I bought a can of Minwax brush on Urethane and though it took 5 coats, it did finally saturate and looks great. All told 11 coats of urethane 6 of the GF and 5 Minwax.
Man there were some very porous spots that just kept sucking up urethane. I think a thicker urethane such as ZAR or McClosky’s would have done the job faster but I couldn’t find either. There are what the GF Tech guy suggested.
Urethane over Danish oil is perfectly fine and both are oil based. Looks great.

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