Prefinishing a shop cabinet

Hi,
I'm getting ready to build a large shop cabinet. I saw it in a woodworking magazine. ( American Woodworker, #91 December 2001). It will take 4 full sheets of plywood.
I was considering finishing both sides of the plywood before I cut it. It seems easier to do this than to put the finish on after the cabinet is assembled with the associated hardware. I never see this process suggested in magazine articles.
Am I missing something here? Does it mess up something else if I do that first?
I don't care about the exposed piles. I could do that after the installation was complete.
Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Thank you.
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When prefinishing before cutting the panels you stand the chance of screwing up the finish. For a shop cabinet that may not matter much. Prefinishing also may becoming a problem at the glued up joints as glue prefers bare wood to bond well. A better approach may be to cut your panels, cut your dado's, groves, and rabbets, and then perhaps prefinish keeping the finish out of the fresh cut joints and taping off the surfaces that will mate inside those joints.
I know the cabinet that you are talking about. IIRC it has 2 outer fold out doors and 2 inner fold out doors. Personally I would build each section and prefinish and then add you hinges.

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Thanks for the suggestions. I appreciate your help.
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Carter wrote:

Any time.
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I did some smaller shop cabinets and prefinished them. Blue tape the glue areas, to keep them unfinished. And prepare to do some "touch ups" on the finish. Overall I thought it made things easier.
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I just completed the same bench you're describing. Used Watco Danish oil to finish the cabinet and top as it was completed (first the cabinet and then both sides of the top before mounting it). I used 3/4" maple/birch plywood for the entire cabinet since the cost was the same (it was on special at HD) as regular 3/4" plywood. I also utilized maple vice birch for all the solid stock as rough-cut maple is very cheap where I live. As for the top, I followed the AW's instructions, but used full-length strips of wormy maple rather that trying to work with off cuts as they did in the magazine article. (Wormy maple cost me $.90/bd foot instead of $1.40/bd ft for clear maple.) I also biscuited the strips (about three #10's per strip) to ensure that they remained aligned during the glue up and clamping. Because of the size and gluing area, I used a quart of glue just for the top. Overall, I am most pleased with the bench, as it is large enough to use for the assembly of large pieces. On the down side, the cost of this project is rather insidious. After investing in such things as 2 vises, 6 casters, 10 drawer glides, plywood, maple and even angle iron, I have at least $450 in the project. However, AW's estimate is $900, so I guess I shouldn't complain.
Good luck and let me know if you'd like to see pictures of my production.
Tom F ----- Original Message -----
Newsgroups: rec.woodworking Sent: Tuesday, May 04, 2004 11:03 AM Subject: Prefinishing a shop cabinet

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Bench???
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I was responding to the bench project in AW's January 2004 issue. Sorry for the confusion.
Tom F

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I see.. I Thought I had missed something.
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My shop cabinets are either painted or unfinished MDF. Painting is easy after assembly. The unfinished cabinets will someday get painted.
I don't go crazy on shop cabinets.
Barry
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