Masking in order to prefinish shelves that will fit into dadoes.

I am really leaning in favor of prefinishing the pieces of my bookshelves - at least the stain and a coat or two of finish. My (3/4" nominal) shelves will fit into 1/4" deep dadoes. The shelves will fit into the dadoes at their full thickness. Counting the tops and bottoms as "shelves", there are 20 pieces.
I thought it would be a really great idea to make "end caps" - 2x2 material as long as the shelves are deep, with dadoes cut in them - to both "mask" the shelf edges and allow me to stack the prefinished shelves in a small space. And it would be a great idea, but I'd need 40 of them, or a significant fraction of 40 at least, and that seems like a lot of wood and a lot of work.
So now I'm wondering about painter's tape. Is there any reason I couldn't tape the ends of the shelves - deliberately overshooting the area that will go into the dado by a little bit - then cut away the excess with a straightedge and an X-acto knife? I imagine locating the line so as to have it end up just inside the dado after assembly.
As for the uprights, was thinking I could avoid getting stain and finish in the dadoes by putting strips of ply in the grooves while I coat them. In fact, that might also facilitate stacking, especially as only two of the eight uprights will be finished on both sides.
Any better ideas?
By the way, many thanks to whoever it was that suggested a pattern bit for the dadoes. I took me a while to make the jig, but once I got going it was like clockwork.
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On 1/2/2013 4:02 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

Use 1" wide painters tape for both the panel edges and the dadoes. If your dadoes are 3/4 x 1/4, the fit will be just right, although a little bit of slop either way won't make that much difference.
Pre-finishing can be a lot of work:
https://picasaweb.google.com/111355467778981859077/EWoodShopMissionBarStool#5818177494402676418
https://picasaweb.google.com/111355467778981859077/EWoodShopMissionBarStool#5818538003629210514
So you need to decide if it is worth if for the particular project. Even though there were literally hundreds of tape areas on the above, it was well worth the time considering how much it will protect against finish problems from the glue.
IME, it is much harder to evenly stain a complicated piece that is already assembled, than to topcoat an already assembled piece.
So, when I pre-finish with stain, I only do stain, not any top coats.
If you have any bare spots because of the tape placement, apply a small amount of the stain to those places with Qtip before top coating.
Another tip ... try not to slice the tape with razor blade or knife.
Much better to lay the blade on the tape, then pull the tape upwards against the resting blade to cut the tape. You'll be glad you did.
And, if you're using Blue painters tape, remove the tape as soon as you can. The stuff becomes more time consuming to remove with each passing day, especially in nooks and crannies.
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On 1/2/2013 5:30 PM, Swingman wrote:

https://picasaweb.google.com/111355467778981859077/EWoodShopMissionBarStool#5818177494402676418
https://picasaweb.google.com/111355467778981859077/EWoodShopMissionBarStool#5818538003629210514 I saw those when you posted them once before. You must come from especially patient stock.

That's what I'm worried about. It's a simple enough project conceptually, but with ten dadoes to glue simultaneously (and then the back to insert)and my modest skills, I'm wondering if I can keep adequate track of all the squeeze-out

Suppose I do that, which could make certain things easier (like where to put all of the parts while they dry); are you suggesting that any glue errors that I don't catch will not be fatal, as the color will at least be even?
I believe you spray on finishes, at least sometimes. If you couldn't do that, and if you were generally less skilled than you are [ :) ], would you still only pre-stain? I'm leaning toward wiping poly for this project. I tried it on my test piece and it seemed easy and not too finicky, qualities I'll need to finish so much square footage decently.

I can see how that would be a handy method given your dozens of small mortise joints, but in my case each tape "line" will be 11 or 12 inches long. Am I missing something? Would you really place the blade down, pull up the tape, then move the blade one "blade-width" down the line and repeat that 8 times on each side of each edge for 20 shelves worth?
I guess what I'm asking is this: Would I be doing that to avoid cutting into the wood? Or for some other reason?

If I only do the staining pre-assembly, I can remove the tape immediately.
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Which is where hide glue absolutely shines. You can clean up any amount of squeeze-out with a rag dampened with warm water. Any residual glue accepts stain just like wood -- no tell-tale lines where cured yellow glue won't absorb finish. Liquid hide glue will work as well in this regard as hot hide glue, the only caveat being to check the date, that it's less than 6 months old.
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On 1/3/2013 3:36 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

I'm patient only when it costs me money to not be. ;)

I always try to break the glue-ups into logical parts, doing a dry fit of the whole enchilada at the same time to insure those little inaccuracies that always crop up fit/don't have to be forced for the final glue-up stage.
When doing glue-ups, particular complicated ones, of cabinet and case parts, I live and die by these clamps, and I have plenty:
http://www.sears.com/craftsman-3-in-90-deg-quick-release-corner-clamp/p-00931508000P
Often I will even screw them into a plywood jig just for the particular cabinet size.
One of those clamps that you just can't have too many of ...

Depends upon the wood, the stain and the glue, but mostly, yes. With an oil based stain, PVA glue will normally not stick to the stained parts, and if it does, it is usually easier to clean off without effecting the final finish.

Yes.
$2 pizza cutter, sharpened, and wielded in such a manner as to not slice the surface.

Yes, you don't want to slice into the wood, or the plywood veneer, as you will get a highly visible "streak" where the stain sits below the surface. It will also accentuate the joint, which can be desirably, or not.
Mostly nasty, and very amateurish looking.

Yep. that's why I mentioned it.
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On 1/3/2013 6:50 PM, Swingman wrote:

http://www.sears.com/craftsman-3-in-90-deg-quick-release-corner-clamp/p-00931508000P
I forgot the mention that, used when working solo, each pair of these clamps is like having an extra person in the shop helping with the glue-up.
Use them with a helper who understands the nuances of glue-ups, and you can blow through as many cabinet glue-ups in short order as you have clamps ... and highly accurate, square cabinet, glue-ups.
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"Swingman" wrote:

http://www.sears.com/craftsman-3-in-90-deg-quick-release-corner-clamp/p-00931508000P---------------------------------------------------------- Those clamps must be at least the great, great, great, grandson of the set I got from Sears many years ago.
Lew
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On 1/3/2013 7:40 PM, Lew Hodgett wrote:

Damned hard to find for a long time. I have a set that must be at least 40 years old, and was tickled to find them again at Sears a couple of years back.
Reminds me ... I probably ought to buy a couple more while I can afford it. :)
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Lew Hodgett wrote:

"Swingman" wrote:

The set I had started life as a picture frame kit.
3 identical clamps and a fourth with a built in miter box to cut frame to final size.
Never built a picture frame but still got a lot of use out of them.
(Very useful when laying up plywood cored fiberglass boxes.)
Lew
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On Thu, 03 Jan 2013 19:35:03 -0800, Lew Hodgett wrote:

I bought one of those sets at an estate sale just for the heck of it. Came in the original box - guess it hadn't seen a lot of use.
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Each bookcase has two uprights, five horizontal pieces in dadoes and a back. Of the eight uprights (there are 4 units), only two will show, so I could use screws or nails in some places. I haven't decided yet.

I own five (strange number huh?) corner clamps, also craftsman, but they aren't quite as nice as yours; there's no quick release, and they have tiny metal "pads". I've been thinking of using them in the outside corners to help get the cases square before I put the backs on. I'm still mulling the assembly method, which is OK since I have loads of sanding and staining to do first. I'm considering screwing some strategic braces into the assembly surface, laying them out square to make it easy to line up the actual units.

Or there's that.

Good. I'll be staining some test pieces first. Maybe I'll deliberately put some glue on them for practice. (seriously)

Interesting. Thanks for the help. I'll probably need more.
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Greg Guarino wrote:

so I could use screws or nails in some places. I haven't decided yet. ---------------------------------------------------------- My money says you will take a page out of Norm's book and toe nail each dado as the glue up proceeds with headless pins.
Check out an old NYW for details.
Lew
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