When to Pre-Finish

Article - March 2, 2009

Brandon wrote in and asked:

Thanks for doing everything you do. One quick question if you have some time. I’m wondering how much of a project you assemble prior to beginning to apply finish? I have seen it done different ways. Some assemble after finishing and some finish after assembly. I would appreciate any advice you have.

The confusing answer to your question is, it depends. As a general rule of thumb, I pre-finish whenever it will be difficult or tedious to finish after assembly. For instance, the inside of a small cabinet or any place where three planes meet. Think of a bookcase where a shelf meets the side and the back. An area like that is a royal pain to finish. So I will go out of my way to tape off the joints and finish ahead of time. Although this process is time-consuming, I usually find that it saves me time in the long run. Finishing your parts while they are still flat is incredibly fast and yields much more consistent results when its all said and done. Hope that helps.

So in what situations do you folks pre-finish, if ever?