Assembling and Finish

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Forum topic by sreilly24590 posted 10-29-2017 05:28 PM 748 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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145 posts in 1035 days

10-29-2017 05:28 PM

So I’ve been working way too long, on and off, on my router table. A friend gave me a set of plans he had and I decided to build the carcass as designed and use a JessEm phenolic top, Woodpecker router fence, and JessEm router lift. The exterior side of the carcass is prefinished 3/4 plywood. The design has multiple small bit and parts drawers on the upper section with the dust collection in the middle. Below that the lower section has two medium sized drawers and one large drawer. Everything is cut and clamped together for a dry fit and works well, is square, and ready for assembly. Question is do I polyurethane the parts prior to assembly where it’s easiest or glue, clamp, and wait till dry. My gut tells me to pre-finish and then assemble but its been a while since I’ve done a project of this nature. I’m also guessing it doesn’t really matter but this is the type of place that I like to bounce things around before I go too far.

So that brings up the final question, which is preferable, water based or oil based poly? I think I’ve only used oil based and mostly MinWax at that which always seemed to do a great job. I do sand, clean, apply, dry, wipe with fine steel wool and re-apply. But this old dog needs a few up to date lessons I think.

Suggestions and opinions please? BTW, the free plans are available here


-- Steve, Virginia

4 replies so far

View Kirk650's profile


679 posts in 1352 days

#1 posted 10-29-2017 05:52 PM

My router table has an MDF top (two layers), and I coated it with water based poly. Once it dried, I waxed it with Johnson’s wax, and 8 years or so later it’s holding up fine.


View LittleShaver's profile


609 posts in 1223 days

#2 posted 10-29-2017 11:35 PM

Either pre-finish, or assemble and finish will work just fine. Most of your interior surfaces will be hidden, so interior finish quality is not that important. For a shop cabinet, I would assemble and then finish. For me it would be a little quicker and I could get to making sawdust faster.

Use whatever finish you like. I prefer to wipe on oil based poly. Water based still seems too plastic to my eye.

-- Sawdust Maker

View jonah's profile


2092 posts in 3902 days

#3 posted 10-30-2017 02:44 AM

Whenever possible I prefer to pre finish parts, especially cabinets. It drastically cuts down on the amount of time it takes to actually apply finish, and you end up with a higher quality finish in the end. Also, the inside of cabinets can take a long time to dry.

Again, where possible I pre finish, but if that’s not possible it’ll be fine finishing after assembly.

View sreilly24590's profile


145 posts in 1035 days

#4 posted 10-30-2017 04:06 AM

I ended up gluing and assembling the router table. It has been a long drawn out project and I was getting antsy. The exterior sides are prefinished and I haven’t made the drawers yet and wanted to get those started. I did get the parts cut for the upper drawers and needed the assembly put together to get the finish dimensions. Luckily the Woodpeckers phenolic router table top fit right onto the table using the 3/4” wide plywood strips that were bolted on the bottom side going front to back. I just needed to trim the length. Most left to do is the face frame, drawers, and mounting the router switch which I’ve decided to mount by means of a ”” bracket made of 3/4” plywood and facing forward on the right front side. As mentioned, most of the interior is unseen but I am going to poly the inside of the dust collection area to make it slicker than bare wood for hopefully better dust movement.

-- Steve, Virginia

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