Shelf Pin Holes

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Forum topic by wookie posted 01-05-2013 08:41 PM 2696 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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154 posts in 3325 days

01-05-2013 08:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: adjustable shelves question

Hey, everybody. Making a cabinet with adjustable shelves for my daughter. I have the carcass assembled and would like to full assemble it then stain it. My question is, is it harder to finish something with the shelf pins already drilled or is it easier to finish then drill? Does it even matter? I think that I would like to drill the holes, assemble, then finish. Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.



-- Wookie=Wood Rookie

7 replies so far

View BGW's profile


165 posts in 2248 days

#1 posted 01-05-2013 08:42 PM

I’ve always assembled first. Good luck!

-- Bob, Indiana, "Well done is better than well said." -Ben Franklin

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3721 days

#2 posted 01-05-2013 08:48 PM

I would drill the holes after you have finished it if you can. Sometimes the size of the piece prevents you from getting a drill into it to do the drilling though so you have to make a judgement call on drilling the pin holes before assembly or after. I find putting the finish on after the holes are drilled tends to fill in the holes and cause the shelf pins to be tight or possibly not fit at all.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11167 posts in 3670 days

#3 posted 01-05-2013 08:48 PM

Different stokes I guess. I like to drill the holes, assemble, then finish.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2926 days

#4 posted 01-05-2013 09:03 PM

already assembled? guess this is a “next time” question. Flat (pre-assembled) panels will let you use the “Norm” jig and make quick work of it with a plunge router. On a carcass I would stain before assembly as well (those little holes are tough to see when the box is together, until you think you are done of course at which time the empty holes are quite noticable. I don’t know why that is.

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2818 days

#5 posted 01-05-2013 10:31 PM

Drill, then assemble, then finish.
Drilling doesn’t have to be a super precise operation. I used the kreg shelf pin jig on my shop cabinet project and drilled all the holes before assembly using only a spacer made of scrap to position the jig. No finish, but I lightly ran a drill with a countersink bit in each hole to clear the tearout.

Drilling after assembly makes sense if you won’t have the same reference edge before assembly.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2314 days

#6 posted 01-05-2013 10:37 PM

By vote: i always do them before assembly, But I have a line bore machine (possible tool gloat? sorry) Importantly to my vote, I don’t have trouble with the pins in stain or paint grade, and most are finished by others. When I run into the occasional painted in hole, i just ream in out by hand with a 5 mm bit. In the case that mistakes have had to be fixed (just recently got a job all the way to lockout, and found a cab with one side assembled upside down.. doohh :() I have seen blowout. that would mean touch ups.

-- Who is John Galt?

View wookie's profile


154 posts in 3325 days

#7 posted 01-05-2013 11:35 PM

Thanks a lot, guys. Nitewalker, I am also using a Kreg jig and the reference edge is the prob. Think I am going to drill the holes, final assemble, then finish. Clean them out if I have to. You guys are the best!

Cheers and Happy New Year To All,


-- Wookie=Wood Rookie

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