Finishing question - oil under urethane?

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Forum topic by ScienceNerd posted 08-09-2010 09:26 PM 4344 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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24 posts in 3048 days

08-09-2010 09:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: urethane finish oil arm-r-seal

Hi, LJs…

I’m just beginning construction on a couple serving trays for Mummy Dearest’s birthday. The trays will be mainly cherry, with walnut and tiger maple accent strips. I’d like the finish to be natural (no stain but some gloss). However, the trays will probably be used for dinners outdoors on the deck, so they need to have some decent moisture protection from sweating glasses, etc. I think I’ve settled on a urethane finish—Waterlox or, more likely, Arm-R-Seal—to accomplish the latter.

My question… Is it bad/okay/encouraged to use some oil underneath the urethane? Look-wise, I’d be happy with an oil/wax finish, which I’d like to emulate as much as possible with the urethane. Would something like tung oil be okay underneath urethane to make it “pop”, or would this combo lead to adhesion problems? Anyone have experience with the Arm-R-Seal directly on the wood? I also see that General Finishes has “seal-a-cell” that they suggest underneath the arm-r-seal…any experiences with this combo?

And, at the risk of taking this thread a bit off-topic, any opinions on Arm-R-Seal versus GF’s water-based polyacrylic?


5 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4241 days

#1 posted 08-09-2010 09:47 PM

I can tell you that either boiled linseed oil or danish oil are fine under polyurethane. Just make sure the oil is good and cured before the top coat is applied. (72 hours to be safe) I don’t know about tung oil, but I would imagine the same is true.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View CharlesNeil's profile


2410 posts in 3893 days

#2 posted 08-09-2010 10:10 PM

thin the first coat of either the waterlox or the Arm r seal, about 15 % with either naphtha, ( fast dry) or mineral spirits( slow dry), and move on, it will do the same thing, and everything is compatable, and the oils dry well, BLO is a soft finish, while it works, the other two are much better and do the exact same thing, the reason for thinning is to get a little more penetration, when they feel dry they are, usually about 12 hours, over night to be sure, Water lox has more of an amber color to it than Arm R Seal

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24 posts in 3048 days

#3 posted 08-10-2010 07:18 PM

Thanks, fellas.

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2963 days

#4 posted 08-10-2010 08:38 PM

You can also do a oil/varnish finish. Mix 3 parts polyurethane varnish, 2 parts bioled linseed oil, 2 parts mineral turpentine. Apply wiith rag, wipe on, wipe off. For more on this check out a blog I recently did at :

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3765 days

#5 posted 08-10-2010 09:19 PM

I would look at a scrap with just the waterlox. You have the tung oil in the finish already and the varnish resins are in place, so there would be no need for a Poly topcoat. I usually brush it on, wait 10 minutes, adding waterlox to any dry spots then rag it off. Give it 24 hours to cure, de-nib and wax it.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

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