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I'm a new woodworker, and my experience so far has been making things for around the shop to hold my toys and get organized, while practicing the basics. So far those projects include a router organizer, drawer for under my TS wing, and an assembly/work table. None of them had any significant finish, maybe some spraycan gloss.

For my first "presentation piece" I'm making a jewelry box. I don't have all the toys yet, including a planer, so I made it out of red oak because that's what I could find in 1/2" thickness and S4S at the home center. For the lid I have a very cool piece of hickory. I want to dye and stain the wood, and I've found the combination I like already. My question is this:

With everything cut and fitted and having been test-assembled to check for fit, square, etc, how far should I go on the finishing before actual assembly? It's 12×7x6", with a removable tray and dividers. The corners are all pinned rabbets, going to use 1/8" dowels as the pins, to provide another contrast.

So far, everything is sanded to 220, and that's it. I'm thinking that staining and such would be easiest while still not assembled, but like I said, I'm completely new at all of this, and any guidance would be most welcome. Thanks!
 

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It is very difficult to get stain into tight corners even with a Q-tip. I usually apply blue tape to any areas that need to be glued and completely finish most all the individual pieces then do the gluing. The advantages are that all the parts are uniformly finished and that the glue won't adhere to the finish. The disadvantage is that you need to be extra careful with the finished pieces because any subsequent ding will show. Put cork or a soft wood on the faces of your clamps. This project was "finished" first, then glued. HTH
 

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I like to assemble before staining. You can spray or wipe it on. If you apply if liberally, then wipe it off you shouldn't have any problems. Remember to make up some sample boards to make sure you are happy with the color / sheen.
Good luck.
 
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