I'm building a wooden trunk. I added some details, and it has some
mouldings, beads, grooves, etc.. I'm almost ready to glue the whole
thing up, and I'm wondering what to do with finish. In some other
projects, I always end up by having to deal with shellac on akward
areas, with complicated access for the brush, etc, and many times,
that result in a poor finish.
I'm thinking in just putting the shellac to every single piece, BEFORE
assembly, which would be much easier. Then maybe just give one general
touch to the whole trunk once assembled, to fill the hairline gaps.
Is that a good idea? Or I'm going to screw up the project? :(
Thanks for any suggestion!
As a turner who applies shellac with a rag on one of the most difficult
forms out there, a bowl, I say finish afterward. Be sure to sand, set with
water, sand before assembly while things are more accessible. The shellac
will stand up whiskers too, so be prepared for one final knockdown after
assembly. Then use a mock French polish technique, adding hundreds of thin
coats quickly with a rag made slick by a drop or two of oil so it won't drag
Should be fine. With many finishes, you want to be especially careful
to leave the glue surfaces bare (i.e. mask off your joinery).
However, I *think* I remember hearing that wood glue sticks fine to
dewaxed shellac. If you do try to stay away from glue surfaces just
to be safe, it should be no problem to pre-finish your pieces. I've
done both (pre- and post-finishing), and the best method depends a lot
on the particular project and your preferences. If you finish before
assembly, it will probably come out more evenly, and you won't have
thick or rough or thin spots on inside corners. However, you then
have to worry about any bumps, scratches, dents, etc. while you're
clamping and gluing up your project, as you can't just sand them out
later. I would think shellac wouldn't be too bad, as you don't have
to sand between coats - that was a hassle for me while varnishing the
rocking chair I just finished - couldn't reach the inside corners with
steel wool while roughing between coats, or rubbing/waxing at the
end. Not too noticeable overall, but if you look closely there are
some pretty rough spots.
What I do is apply a sealer coat after I've cut all the "showing"
faces, but before I cut the "assembly" faces. I.e. I do all the
beading and stuff, apply the finish (taping over any surface that will
contact other pieces of wood), then cut mortises and tenons. The
sealer coat, for me, is ONLY to prevent glue from messing up the final
I finish before assembly a fair amount. A lot of it depends on the piece
but I just finished a cradle and decided not to finish before assembly. I
sure wished I had! I typically get to about 1-2 coats away from a final
finish on the parts then glue together. Then do the 1-2 coats final finish
once the glue is cured. Be sure to tape off any joints or areas you want
glue to stick. You shouldn't screw up the project as long as you keep
finish where it's supposed to be. I typically brush or pad so this advice
may not make sense if you are spraying.
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