I'm working on a set of bookcases as one of my first projects. I am
not sure if I should assemble first (dado & biscuit joints, mostly) and
then stain/finish, or if I should stain and finish each piece first and
then do my assembly steps.
It really boils down to personal preference. However it tends to be much
easier to stain interior parts before assembly. Take care to keep as much
stain as possible off of the areas that will receive glue. I normally do
all of the outside last.
If staining or finishing before assembly, make sure you do a "dry" assembly
first. If you later have to re-sand and restain some areas, they may not blend
well. As he mentioned, some projects are much easier either before or after
assembly, while other are purely personal preference. Of course, this also
depends on the materials and tools you're using, plus the type of joinery. In
a few projects I've taped the glue areas, stained, assembled, then spray
finished. In your case you could tape around the dados to prevent glue issues,
or apply both the stain and the first finish coat, so any later glue will wipe
I just finished a sofa table, and dealt with the same. Through tenons
upper and lower panels, and spindles. It was MUCH easier to stain i
all up on the assembly table, and simply wipe away the squeeze-ou
without worrying about "getting it all off" before staining. 'Course,
still had to wipe on the poly...probably should've done that befor
glue-up also?... To
You might bear in mind that stains are not equal, so that can be misleading.
All pigment stains have some kind of binder, and many of these will seal the
wood sufficiently to prevent or reduce glue adhesion. However, some won't seal
as well as others. OTOH, as tomeshew noted in his post, dye stains, especially
water base ones, are different.
To prevent issues with oil based stain curing or wb stain binder compatability
with the finish, I often put a coat of shellac on after the stain. Applying
that here I'd tape the joints, stain then shellac. Remove tape, glue, then
finish. While you could try the finish coat before the glue-up, you'll often
find small areas that need a touch-up, and it can be difficult to blend that
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