To topcoat or not to topcoat

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Forum topic by Allen posted 12-03-2007 04:23 PM 1343 views 1 time favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Allen's profile


43 posts in 4097 days

12-03-2007 04:23 PM

I’m finishing a wall hung cabinet made of cherry. In trying to branch out from my usual finishing regimen of coat of BLO followed by wipe on poly I decided to try an oil/varnish blend. I picked up a can of General Finish’s Seal a Cell and after two coats I love the warmth it’s giving the cherry. It has a bit of a lustre to it as well, but I’d like to see just a little hint of a sheen.

I know that the Seal a Cell isn’t a topcoat, but I’m wondering if a few more coats are going to add any kind of a sheen to the wood. I’d prefer not to top-coat with poly if I don’t have to. Since it’s not a surface that’s going to take a lot of abuse can I get away without top-coating? Are more coars of the oil/varnish going to bring out any more of a sheen to the wood?

Also, with an oil/varnish mixture is it necessary to finish both sides of the wood? I’d prefer to leave the insides of the cabinet unfinished if possible but I don’t want to cause myself problems down the road.


-- We may never know who let the dogs out, but I'd bet anything PETA was involved.

2 replies so far

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4090 days

#1 posted 12-03-2007 05:25 PM

GF Arm-R-Seal is the topcoat follow up to Seal-A-Cell (it’s the red labeled can). Comes in Gloss, Semi-Gloss and Satin. Same wipe on ease, builds a finish. I would seal the insides of the cabinet to keep the amount of humidity absorbed by the wood stable on both sides of the board to avoid excessive movement (cupping, etc). But I would recommend (for the millionth time) Zinnser Sealcoat Dewaxed shellac. This can be padded on with a cloth rubber (wad of cloth with an overwrapped cloth, making sure no wrinkles or seams are visible. The reason why, you ask rather than more of the same? Shellac builds fast, drys fast, and has no odor. It can be rubbed out to match the gloss level of your topcoat by using increasing grits, and you can rub out in a day or so. Oil finishes take longer to cure, and will leave an odor inside the cabinet (or drawer) that lingers for a long, long time. My 2ยข.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View DeputyDawg's profile


196 posts in 3991 days

#2 posted 12-04-2007 01:04 AM

I just started using products from Howard Products and there is a product call Feed-N-Wax that is made with Bee’s Wax and Orange Oil. I have always used BriWax before but haven’t been able to find it when we moved to Missouri. You can find the product online at Or email me and I’ll let you know more about it and where you can purchase it.

-- DeputyDawg

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