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I'm making a solid wood, raised panel cabinet doors. Is it wise to stain and finish the panel before assembling the rails and stiles so if the wood contracts there won't be any bare wood exposed? The widest panel is 13" across the grain…maybe that's not enough to really matter.
 

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Eric, when I made this piece, I actually finished all the parts individually. I used blue tape to cover/protect the mortises, tenons, grooves, etc. I think this is better because you don't have to be concerned about accidentally sanding a previously finished panel and you don't have to tape off the panels when you are finishing the rails & stiles. Finally, you don't have to be careful about any glue squeeze out because the glue won't stick to your finished parts. FWIW
 

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I dilute the stain slightly when pre-finishing solid wood panels. This way when you stain the entire project, the panel doesn't get too dark.
 
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