When to do the finish ?

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Forum topic by SuburbanDon posted 04-27-2010 06:44 PM 1008 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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487 posts in 3231 days

04-27-2010 06:44 PM


I’m a medium skilled wood worker and I HATE doing finishes – particularly the sanding when there are lots of small surfaces. I’m a confirmed Normite and prefer to use machines whevever possible. My aging fingers agree.

I’ve started wondering if it might make more sense to do the finish earlier in the process: perhaps before cutting the individual pieces or at least before assembly.

I’m aware that I could damage the finish by doing this but I still wonder if it might be better.

Any opinions ?

-- --- Measure twice, mis-cut, start over, repeat ---

2 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3312 days

#1 posted 04-27-2010 07:16 PM

There are lots of situations where doing some finishing work prior to assembly is wise, especially when you are talking about interior surfaces that will be difficult to get to after they have been assembled. A couple of things to think about -

If you have cut a dado or groove that will hold a panel, sanding prior to assembly could affect the snugness of fit.

You need to be careful not to get a finishing product on an area that will be glued. The finishing product could affect how well the glue bonds to the wood. OTOH, there are situations where a pre-finished panel will make it easier to clean up and glue squeeze out.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View bobkberg's profile


439 posts in 3310 days

#2 posted 04-27-2010 09:59 PM

Rich makes several good points – with which I agree for the most part.

As for sanding prior to fitting something into a dado or such, then do the sanding first, THEN cut the dado.
In some cases, I’ve pre-finished a panel, and then cut into the finish for the gluing surface, so that the edges of the dado never even show – they are covered by the clean-cut line of what amounts to a wide tenon.

Masking tape is always useful for covering areas to be glued – I just let the tape slightly intrude into the gluing area so that the edge of the finish doesn’t show.


-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

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