Finishing Inside of a Drawer?

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Forum topic by David posted 04-10-2009 03:12 PM 2948 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View David's profile


110 posts in 3374 days

04-10-2009 03:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish drawer

Hi all,

I’m about finished with construction of a solid walnut file cabinet with solid oak drawers and am wondering your thoughts on finsihing the inside of a drawer. I’ve heard that applying finish to the inside of a drawer will leave a lasting smell, but am worried that if I don’t apply finish the drawers will be more prone to warping. I’ll be using a custom finish of 1/3 100% Tung Oil, 1/3 varnish, 1/3 paint thinner. Any thoungts you have are much appreciated. Will post the finished product soon…..


-- dcutter

7 replies so far

View PetVet's profile


329 posts in 3515 days

#1 posted 04-10-2009 03:25 PM

You can safely use Shellac to finish the inside of the drawers and the cabinet. It will not leave a smell like oil finishes do, and should stabilize the wood.

-- Rich in Richmond -- Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3552 days

#2 posted 04-10-2009 04:07 PM

The finish isn’t going to prevent warping. A lot of people don’t finish drawers. That said, I agree with petvet. Use shellac for the interior and it will seal the wood and protect it from stains.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View David's profile


110 posts in 3374 days

#3 posted 04-10-2009 04:19 PM

Shellac it is then. I’ve never used a shellac – any suggestions on application? Thanks again for your thoughts and help.

-- dcutter

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3700 days

#4 posted 04-10-2009 04:43 PM

Shellac can be sprayed if you have the equipment. Ragging it on is my favorite form of application. It dries super fast and can be reapplied every 25/30 minutes. Unlike my other favorite top coat, lacquer.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4155 days

#5 posted 04-10-2009 04:59 PM

Oil and varnish finishes might make for sticky drawers.
A little shellac won’t hurt.

FWIW, I have a house full of antiques and collectible furniture and none of these pieces have drawers with the insides finished.

-- 温故知新

View BlankMan's profile


1490 posts in 3380 days

#6 posted 04-11-2009 04:38 PM

I stain and poly my drawers inside and out but always use drawer slides to mount them so never had any problem with sticking. I like full extension so it’s easy to reach things in the back of the drawer. Never understood why drawers weren’t finished completely unless it’s to save stain and poly (manufacturers cheapness) or laziness. Never had a problem with lingering smell so I don’t think that’s it. Do the same with cabinets, finish them inside and out, again, no lingering smell problem. I just like the look.

-- -Curt, Milwaukee, WI

View cmaeda's profile


205 posts in 3581 days

#7 posted 04-12-2009 07:59 AM

I just use shellac on all my drawers.
Super easy to apply. I have a brush I dedicate to using shellac and never clean it. I just soak it in denatured alcohol for a few minutes before I use it again.
It dries really fast too. Don’t apply too much at once. Recoat every 15 minutes or so and always keep a wet edge when applying.
I usually sand it super lightly with 600 grit after all the coats are on.

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