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Prime and Paint before or after the build?

1141 Views 6 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  nailbanger2
Hi Everyone,
I'm very new to wood working (other than a few basic work benches and a very basic push kart with my son) and I have a question about when to prime and paint a piece.

I am building a cubby style bookcase for my wife's classroom (5th grade, don't know how she does it!). I am going to prime and paint the unit a combination of colors that she has picked out. However, I am in need of some advice. My question is not HOW to prime and paint but WHEN to prime and paint??? Is it better to paint my cut and drilled boards individually or wait until the build is finished and paint the unit as a whole. I can see some pros and cons of both but, as a rookie, I'm sure there are some angles that I'm not looking at.

Thanks in advance for your insight and advice,
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If you can dry fit it together and paint before final assembly, I think it looks better. It is really easy to to miss spots after assembly and occasionally you will have tacky looking excess in joints after assembly.
Forgot, Welcome to Lumberjocks
I agree, first dry fit the piece together then paint, then build. I think it looks better. Just make sure not to get paint on the pieces where you will have glue. But don't skip the dry fit. make sure it goes together just as you want it to.

I built a small kids desk several years ago, had all the pieces made and sanded perfect to the plans and then painted each piece. When I started the assembly, "ooops" it didn't go together and a few minor adjustments were needed. Not good, had to repaint.
Thanks for the replies! And thanks for the welcome Monte! So just to make sure I understand you guys correctly, by "dry fit" you mean to actually put the unit together with screws but no glue, correct? Is it advisable to just hold the pieces in place instead?
No glue, as far as screw it all depends on how you plan to hold it together. The more you can just use clamps the better.
On most painted projects, I like to prime before I do any cutting. This ensures no paint in areas that will be glued and it's much easier to paint and sand. After machining, then dry fit, you can put on a finish coat (unless it will be sprayed).
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