Finishing dresser inside or not

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Forum topic by GNMG posted 06-01-2017 02:19 AM 664 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 1232 days

06-01-2017 02:19 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing

I built a dresser for my newborn’s bedroom out of curly birch. I stained it and applied danish oil to bring out the grain. To top coat it I will be using polycrylic. They are all compatible. So far the inside has had nothing. I will spray the polycrylic this week and am debating wether or not tonspray the inside as well. I feel the opinions are pretty divided as to finish the inside or not due to humidity changes and have the wood move/bow. Whatvis my best bet?

12 replies so far

View johnstoneb's profile


3154 posts in 3029 days

#1 posted 06-01-2017 02:24 AM

I finish both sides. The finish will not stop moisture movement but it will slow it down. Finishing both sides equalizes the speed the moisture moves into and out of both sides. I believe that and I am sticking to it. Others will probably tell you differently.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

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8 posts in 1232 days

#2 posted 06-01-2017 02:44 AM

I feel like I should too. Do you do exactly the same amount of coats inside and out? The inside hasn’t been stained or oiled nor will it be. I think I might do 2 coats inside and 3-4 outside. Not exactly the same balance but should equalize both sides better than the inside unfinished.

View Rich's profile (online now)


5906 posts in 1446 days

#3 posted 06-01-2017 03:19 AM

I don’t pretend to have the definitive answer, but I generally only concern myself with finishing both sides if there is a likelihood the piece could warp, like a countertop or tabletop. Cabinet sides I don’t worry about since they are almost always frame and panel, and I haven’t regretted it so far.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Aj2's profile (online now)


3352 posts in 2654 days

#4 posted 06-01-2017 03:23 AM

I wouldn’t put anything on the inside.Sometimes the smell can linger on the inside of cabinets and drawers.That would be terrible if finish made the little one clothes smell.
If you have to use shellac it’s very safe.

-- Aj

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6187 posts in 3265 days

#5 posted 06-01-2017 04:17 AM

With no coating at all anything spilled is permanent. Crayons, markers, pencils and anything else you can think of. For me, I can make a mess with the best of them, so I finish all of it. Same amount of coats, don’t really care how long it takes. That is just me, I have no scientific justification about it other than the issue of screwing up a nice cabinet with a crayon.

To get the smell out I leave the drawers outside where the sun can soak them for a few days. Do not put them out in the rain, just saying.. LOL

Best of luck!!

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Robert's profile


3965 posts in 2337 days

#6 posted 06-01-2017 02:10 PM

I don’t think it matters.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View CharlesA's profile


3443 posts in 2654 days

#7 posted 06-01-2017 02:13 PM

I won’t claim to be an expert, but I have read a lot from experts, and the consensus seems to be that finishing inside is a choice, but is by no means required. The notion that it prevents movement/warping is unfounded.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View splintergroup's profile


4009 posts in 2078 days

#8 posted 06-01-2017 02:26 PM

Traditionally, furniture that will hold clothes should not use any oil-based finishes on drawer interiors, shellac is a popular alternative and won’t impart chemical odors to the clothes. Sometimes the shellac is laced with an oil (like jasmine) to give it a slight scent.

For the rest of the dresser, I’d treat it to the same polycrylic that you use on the exterior. The oil is optional.

View Ted78's profile


415 posts in 2856 days

#9 posted 06-01-2017 02:27 PM

I would definitely put some sort of protective coating on the inside, especially on a child’s dresser. I’m guessing it’s your first child? I don’t think you’d be asking if you had cleaned vomit out of dressers full of legos or found the sticky peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the sock drawer that was being saved for later or a sippy cup leaking onto the jeans.

-- Ted

View pintodeluxe's profile


6206 posts in 3669 days

#10 posted 06-01-2017 02:45 PM

Finish the inside.

Not for wood movement issues (which are important on the underside of panels, but less important with frame and panel construction), but for the pride of it. In 20 years someone will pull a drawer out to tinker with it and see and feel that even the inside was finished.

Take the craftsman’s approach.

I have finished drawer and carcass interiors with shellac or lacquer with no issues.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6431 posts in 3349 days

#11 posted 06-01-2017 02:54 PM

Finishing the drawers does provide a lot of a “quality” look to the piece. It can also help with delicate fabrics that can get caught on extremely small splinters, especially true of the drawers are poplar. Using a waterborne is just fine, no odor problems…neither is wood movement (with the drawers) but I would finish both sides just for the appearance.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View GNMG's profile


8 posts in 1232 days

#12 posted 06-01-2017 09:06 PM

The drawers are no issue. They have alrrady been finished with a waterborne finish. The question was in regard to the inside of the dresser itself. I might go ahead and spray it inside as well, as pintodeluxe said, wether or not it benefits the integrety of it, it would make for a much nicer piece.

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