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Forum topic by atceric posted 04-08-2010 12:23 AM 936 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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55 posts in 2994 days

04-08-2010 12:23 AM

Topic tags/keywords: oak finishing

Hi all,

I’m getting towards the end stages of my cabinet project ( ), and I want to make sure I’m on the right track as far as finishes go. We’re trying for a fairly natural finish. The project is oak plywood with red oak face trim. We’ve decided on a light stain (just to add a slight even color) and an oil/varnish wipe on (General Finishes Arm-A-Seal satin). I tested this on some cutoff materials, and liked it. Seems to give an even coloring without adding a lot of contrast in the grain.

Wondering about drawers, though. I’ve read that you should not finish interior parts since it will leave a constant odor in the piece. I’m going to prefinish the drawer fronts (avoiding finish on the glue surfaces), but that will mean an interior surface (the back of the drawer front) may have a finish on it.

I was also wondering about the sides and back of the drawers. Is it correct to just leave them with no finish? Or should I actually try a simple BLO finish on them? I’m also planning on leaving the interior cavity of the cabinet unfinished to avoid the odor issue I read about.

Thanks in advance. I know there are a lot of differing opinions on the issue of finishes. So, bring ‘em on! :-)


4 replies so far

View CaptainSkully's profile


1591 posts in 3528 days

#1 posted 04-08-2010 02:59 AM

I wouldn’t worry about the finish on the inside of the drawer fronts. If you go ahead and finish the inside, once it stops off-gassing, it’ll be fine. I definitely don’t recommend finishing any of the other parts of the drawer, otherwise it’ll bind up, especially with changes of humidity. Wood on wood has enough friction. I’ve used UHMWP tape to facilitate the wood-on-wood drawer sliding parts. Once you get all of the sawdust out of the drawer, at worst, it’ll give the contents a nice woody smell…

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3792 days

#2 posted 04-08-2010 12:44 PM

Eric, the group tends to be pretty evenly split on the subject of finishing drawers. Since I enjoy putting a finish on my projects (and probably could be called a glutton for punishment) I put a finish on all wood surfaces- drawers, inside/underside of cabinets, etc.- but there are an equal number of members who leave their drawers unfinished. So it looks like this comes down to a matter of personal preference.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View tblank's profile


61 posts in 2940 days

#3 posted 04-09-2010 04:28 AM

Finishing the inside of drawers depends on material used, hardware, and are the drawers close to the dishwasher or oven? I started using pre-finished plys for my interiors instead of melamine. The finishes are plenty durable from the factory. Best of luck to you.

View atceric's profile


55 posts in 2994 days

#4 posted 04-09-2010 05:49 AM

Thanks Skully, I think I’ll just continue the way I was intending. Prefinish the drawer fronts before assembly, and leave the rest of the drawer unfinished.

Hope I didn’t touch on one of those “heated” debate items, Scott.

Tblank, this is a stand alone piece, but thanks for the advice.

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