Spray or wipe on finish for desk drawers

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Forum topic by Bulkhead posted 03-20-2017 12:24 AM 780 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Bulkhead's profile


23 posts in 1730 days

03-20-2017 12:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: hvlp spray finish polyurethane drawers maple

I have 11 drawers milled from soft maple that will be installed in an office and have decided to use GF Enduro-Var both because I have plenty remaining from use on the interiors of cabinets in the same room and because of durability.

What I don’t know yet is whether I will spray it or wipe it on and whether I should assemble the drawers before finishing or not.

I have both an Earlex 5500 sprayer which I’ve used with this product on panels and a small HVLP conversion gravity gun.

The small gun can be dialed down to really put out very little air and yet still atomize the finish. It should be small enough to get into the drawers to be manageable. The Earlex gun is much bigger.

I am considering assembling the drawers, some of which are large (30” x 20” x 10”) and spraying the interiors with the small gun and the exteriors with the Earlex.

What approach would you guys recommend or how do you apply finish to drawers?

8 replies so far

View Gwhiz's profile


20 posts in 1329 days

#1 posted 03-20-2017 01:01 AM

Most of my drawers are unfinished on the inside. The drawers I recently made for my bar I finished with shellac after they were assembled to provide a bit of protection from water. I’m concerned about the order lingering from oil finishes in an enclosed drawer.

Your spray plan sounds fine as long as the smaller gun will adequately atomize the finish.

View TungOil's profile


1055 posts in 692 days

#2 posted 03-20-2017 03:50 AM

I feel that spraying is generally preferred over wiping due to the speed of application and ability to get a more uniform coat. If you are experienced and comfortable spraying, and it seems that you are, that would be the choice unless you are looking to get the “close to the wood” look that only wiping can give you.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View OSU55's profile


1953 posts in 2186 days

#3 posted 03-20-2017 02:14 PM

I finish all parts of drawers, hvlp spray, usually wb finish. Mask off front. Line them all up, turn gun down to get all corners at once, then turn it up and spray all sides

View pontic's profile


637 posts in 805 days

#4 posted 03-20-2017 02:28 PM

I say spray them as well. Not only smoother but if properly atomized mor oxygenated for faster set.

-- Illigitimii non carburundum sum

View Bulkhead's profile


23 posts in 1730 days

#5 posted 03-20-2017 03:47 PM

Thanks Gents!

So do you guys assemble, glue up, clean up and then spray them or do you spray before assembly?

My drawers have rabbits in the back panels, so I will not be able to slide the bottoms in after assembling the sides. I’ve read some recommend leaving the bottoms out to prevent blowback, but my drawer design doesn’t allow for that.

I am considering masking off dovetails and laying components out inside facing up on a table, and spraying. Then assemble, glue, clean and spray exterior sides and top edges.

I really don’t want pooling of finish in the corners and am concerned about that if I spray them with the bottoms installed.

What do you do?

thx all!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5171 posts in 2690 days

#6 posted 03-20-2017 04:02 PM

I don’t always finish drawers, but when I do I try to do it without the bottom being installed. Spraying into a box, even a shallow one like a drawer has never worked very well for me. I just can’t seem to get the inside corners to look as good as the drawer sides. Enduro Var is a good choice for this, fairly durable.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View pontic's profile


637 posts in 805 days

#7 posted 03-20-2017 07:53 PM

I tape and spray and then assemble. Like Fred I have a hard time getting corners to look good.
I like to spray everything on a flat horizontal surface.

-- Illigitimii non carburundum sum

View ravensrock's profile


497 posts in 1839 days

#8 posted 03-20-2017 08:11 PM

Thanks for asking this question. I’m in the process of building a map cabinet which also has many large drawers. I was planning to spray finish them after assembly but now I may rethink that plan.

-- Dave, York, PA, Wildside Woodworking

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