Order of finishing pieces to a chest

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Forum topic by Redford1947 posted 03-08-2011 06:25 PM 1057 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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35 posts in 2803 days

03-08-2011 06:25 PM

I while back I asked about finishing pieces to a maghony chest. The general consusus was to finish just the insides first. After assembling then finish the outside. I did this and it was a disaster. Despite best efforts, wood conditioner and stain flowed down to the edges of the “dressed” sides. As a result, the insides looked way better than the outsides.

As I was proceeding I realized this in time as was able to do the outside of the front piece first, then the inside. Aft er all were stained then I assembled and applied the top coat. Fortunately, only the back inside piece looks better than the back outslide.

From now on I will stain all pieces, starting with the good sides first. Then apply the top finish to only the insides. Then assemble and apply the top coat to the outsides. This is particulary important when using a conditioner as it’s viscosity lends itself to flowing down the edges to the underside of the piece. This allows the conditioner to remain on the surface longer actually makiing a stain before you can get to that side to apply conditioner and stain.

Would be intersted in any alternate opinions or ideas.


4 replies so far

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2835 days

#1 posted 03-10-2011 04:51 AM

I’m sorry. I didn’t see the original post that you refer to. However, I never finish one part of a project and then another. I try, if at all possible, to finish everything at the same time. Any other way, in my experience, and I wind up with mixed results. What I mean by mixed results is some parts of the project looking completely different than other parts, which of course isn’t good.
Something I have learned about any finishing technique though is that no one method fits all. What I’ve seen other people do never works for me. What I do, some people will tell me I’m doing it wrong. So, for finishes, I think that even though we can try advice from others, in the end, we have to figure out what works for our own selves.


View Jesse 's profile


105 posts in 2855 days

#2 posted 03-10-2011 08:35 AM

Why not simply avoid finishing the inside completely? I am in the camp that think they don’t want the odors or the chemicals leaching into the items I have stored in a chest. Alternately, a simple coat or two of arm-n-seal would do the trick.

View Redford1947's profile


35 posts in 2803 days

#3 posted 03-10-2011 04:12 PM

Much thanks to Jesse and William. Jesse, interesting point about odors. My wife just said we should keep the chest for several weeks before giving to my grandaughter for exactly that reason, A two year old and a 40 day old in the house. Not sure however, that not finishing the insides is the way to go. Can you tell me more about arm-n-seal?

Williiam, you are so right about different sides looking different. I made a major mistake in applying conditioner to some pieces and not others. The stain came out looking completelyl different. Also, I could not get enough of one type of maghony so not only do I have different looking stains, they are on different woods. Might as well have used pine, poplar and plywood, together.

If I didn’t spend so much on lumber, not to mention the many weeks, I would start over. My wife however, would come out in the middle of the night and go at it with my chain saw.

View Jesse 's profile


105 posts in 2855 days

#4 posted 03-11-2011 08:59 AM

I spelled it wrong. Sorry.

It’s Arm-R-Seal by General Finishes. Link

It’s quick and simple wipe on/wipe off oil and poly blend. Gives the pop of oil and durability of poly while being manageable to use in the inside of a chest. At least, it’s what I used on my hope chest. ( Self-less bump for more views of my hope chest:)

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