Can I 'prefinish' my project?

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Forum topic by Hopdevil posted 09-30-2010 05:25 AM 1214 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Hopdevil's profile


219 posts in 3079 days

09-30-2010 05:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finish advice

Hi there,
I am building a tansu style set of bookshelves. There are 28 panels in this beast. The panels are now done and I am ready to start preparing them for joinery. Due to variations in the wood (Walnut trimmed baltic birch), the panels are all a bit different from each other. I’m sure once I finish them, they will look different than they do now.
I am planning on using boiled linseed oil, followed by Shellac, Polyurethane and wax.
My question is, would it hurt to apply the linseed oil now before I join them so that I can possibly make better choices in selecting which panels will match which each other? Or is it a bad idea to do it at this stage?

Thanks much in advance for your advice.

I’ll post pictures once I’m done!

-- Buzz ---- Of all the things I have ever lost, I miss my mind the most.

5 replies so far

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3886 days

#1 posted 09-30-2010 05:32 AM

I always do my joinery b4 I add finish

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Colin 's profile


93 posts in 2804 days

#2 posted 09-30-2010 06:00 AM

It’s not out of the ordinary to pre-finish panels. If possible, machine for your joints after you apply the linseed oil so you don’t get oil on your glue surfaces.
But like the above post, I personally prefer to do all my finishing after assembly. I like to sand everything one last time after assembly is complete and fix any dents or grain snags and any other problems. Think about glue squeeze-out, scratches while you assemble etc.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2835 days

#3 posted 09-30-2010 06:37 AM

When I feel a need to pre-finish a project, I use painters tape to cover any areas that later have glue applied. Be sure to run your fingers over the tape several times to insure a good seal. Then brush or wipe away from the tape edges to minimize any finish that may get under the tape. After assembly be careful about overlapping any finish you use to cover the previously taped area with already finished areas, causing dark patches. If you’re careful it can be done.
However, while I understand your desire to prefinish (been there, done that), I also agree with the previous posters that if possible, joining before finishing is better. If you can, I have another suggestion that I’ve also done. If you can’t, maybe you can use the following suggestion on future projects.
As you prepare your material, save a scrap from cutoffs and such. Number the cutoffs and your prepared material with corresponding numbers. I always write very lightly on my project material. Dark enough to see, but light enough to sand off easily. Then I can pre-stain the “test” pieces to help me decide how I want to lay out the various pieces.


View Hopdevil's profile


219 posts in 3079 days

#4 posted 10-01-2010 04:24 AM

Thanks folks,
I appreciate it. I know was just being overly anal about it.
I have restrained myself and will back away from the finish till after it is assembled. :-)

-- Buzz ---- Of all the things I have ever lost, I miss my mind the most.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3867 days

#5 posted 10-01-2010 05:06 AM

Something I do if I have concerns about how the grain will look when finished is wipe my boards with mineral spirits. This doesn’t show much change in the color of the wood, but it really shows the grain and gives an idea what the piece will look like when finished. The mineral spirits evaporate fairly quickly so I don’t have to worry about contamination on glue surfaces.

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