what and when to finish blanket chest

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Forum topic by patrad posted 11-04-2012 01:15 AM 1247 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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51 posts in 2306 days

11-04-2012 01:15 AM

I have a blanket chest I’m about to start assembling and gluing up, everything is sanded. I’ve previously only built tables, nothing with and inside per se. It is mostly tongue and groove construction. I’m debating on when I should oil and top coat the pieces. It seems to me it would be easiest to stain and top coat everything right now before glue up. However I am also questioning if the inside of the chest should be finished at all besides a shellac seal coat?

The panels are walnut and the rails, stiles and lid are QSWO. I’m oiling with Danish Oil and then top coating with OM Gel Satin Poly. I’m using different shades of Danish on panels than the rest.

The plan just suggests staining(oil) the panels, assembling, staining the rest and top coating. I’m worried though that to get the inside edge of the rail and stiles, I may get oil/stain on the panels or in the grooves and then on the panels. I’m thinking it would be easier to just stain all parts now before assembly and glue, then top coat at the end. Or maybe just stain (oil) the inside walls where the panels go now so I don’t have to go back and do that carefully.

I was also thinking of completely finishing the panels with top coat so if there is any shift, I don’t end up seeing a bit that is not poly’d.

Then there is the question of the inside. . are chest typically finished the same on all faces? I think I’ve seen examples of both.


5 replies so far

View mbs's profile


1656 posts in 2935 days

#1 posted 11-06-2012 03:53 AM

I typically apply finish when the pc is complete. I’ve always been afraid that the oil finish will keep the glue from working.

As for the inside its mostly a matter of personal preference. some people finish both sides of all their wood the same way (sanding and finish) because the wood will expand and contract uniformly. If you are using a finish that smells bad like watco you will want the chest to air out for quite a while before using it. You would be better off with shellac from that standpoint.

please post some pics when your done.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2414 days

#2 posted 11-06-2012 01:37 PM

I’m pretty new to woodworking, but recently completed a cherry TV cabinet. I received great advice to finish it completely before assembly which I did. It would have been a mess if I did it after. I taped off the joints to prevent finish getting on the joints. I’m not sure how to deal with the dovetails. I am considering making a blanket chest and was thinking to cut the dovetails after finishing the boards. I’m sure you will get more advise from the pros on this forum.
Good Luck,

View Swyftfeet's profile


170 posts in 2166 days

#3 posted 11-06-2012 02:04 PM

I would go all the way to final sanding, then assemble.

I recently (yesterday) did a glue up where I had finished all the interior panels first. Then I got carried away an finished the rails and stiles. I used hide glue and wiped up like my mom after a kegger, it left some glue and no matter how careful I was with scraping, I took some of the finish with it. This was using seal a cell and arm a seal wiping varnishes, If your hand rubbing oils I think you’ll be fine glueing up finished panels first and finishing the rest of it after.

This wasn’t hard to correct but there is a slight hue difference in some spots where I took of the poly and tried to rebuild it back up. Oh well first piece and it’s a gift…

-- Brian

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3153 days

#4 posted 11-06-2012 02:40 PM

I’d do it before, particularly since the panels will float (or at least they should). In that case you might want to at least stain the panel edges first.

-- jay,

View patrad's profile


51 posts in 2306 days

#5 posted 11-06-2012 08:24 PM

Decisions . . decisions.

I walked through the entire process in my head and with parts in hand and overall I think I’m going to finish the panels then glue up.

Drivers were:
- There are a couple leg fillers I would have to glue in after finishing and then finish
- Avoiding glue squeezout on finished pieces
- I have to cut some dados after gluing up the sides, I don’t want to really saw finished pieces
- I may have to sand down some shoulders
- I won’t have to tape all the tenons

All that outweighed the factors that made me want to pre-finish all the parts:
- Easy of finishing (small parts vs 75# chest)
- Ease of finishing rail/stile edges (I’ll just have to be super careful with tape and small amounts of stain/finish

Thanks all!

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