Assemble first or finish first? Is there a way that I am missing?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 09-19-2011 07:47 AM 1484 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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950 posts in 3121 days

09-19-2011 07:47 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing beech assembly glue

I am working on some frame and panels that will have details assembled inside the framework and over the panels. The larger trim work will form the arches. Between the corners of the frame and the top of the arches where they meet to form the point, will be some pieces that fill the corners with smaller arch details. These smaller arches are one piece cut out on the scrollsaw. Over the top of these corner aches will be trim pieces to finish them off and add depth to the corners.

I was planning on gluing all of the trim and details into the frame of the panel. My dilemma, or question, is this:

Should I glue the pieces in first and then finish the pieces (poly), OR should I finish the pieces and then install (glue) them in? Is there some other order of steps that I should consider other than the two options that I am coming up with?

My main concern is the small arch details in the corner and the finishing. These pieces will be difficult to keep finish from pooling/running and then sanding them between coats. If I pre-finish the parts, how would I glue them in? Over the finish? Protect the glue surfaces from finish? (this could be really tedious and time consuming)

Hopefully these pictures will give a better idea of what I am up against.

Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated, and THANK YOU! :)

-- Hand Crafted by Brett Peterson John 3:16

3 replies so far

View cloakie1's profile


204 posts in 2916 days

#1 posted 09-19-2011 10:56 AM

i reckon i would finish the pieces seperated….they look like they all are a very good fit. your right about how the poly will pool and with all that intricate stuff going on there spraying won’t work either.i’m thinking that by doing the finishing first you will avoid a lot of clean up. then glueing it will be interesting afterwards cos most wood glues won’t adhere to your poly,i’m thinking something like gorilla’s high tac fix all will do it but don’t use much cos cleaning that up isn’t easy either….try a test piece first and see how you get on….good luck

-- just get stuck in and have a go!!!

View Kjuly's profile


311 posts in 3647 days

#2 posted 09-19-2011 01:20 PM

What you are faced with is the panel moving. If you glue everything together and finish, when the panel moves, the parts of the panel that are unfinished will show up along the edges of your trim. Plus, you run the risk of the finish bonding the trim to the panel and cracking the trim pieces when the panel moves.
I would suggest you rabbit the back of the door to accept the panel. This method will allow you to assemble the door frame and apply the trim.
After the trim is installed, you can apply the finish to the frame and door panel. When the finish has cured, install the panel using quarter round or square trim on the back side, attaching it to the frame only.
Beautiful design. I look forward to the pictures of the complete cabinet.

-- Keith, Charlotte, MI

View Brett's profile


950 posts in 3121 days

#3 posted 09-19-2011 06:33 PM

Ummmmm… (That’s me processing a plan)

Thank you both for your input. I am thinking that I will definately finish before I attach the trim to the frames. Right now, I am planning on protecting the surfaces that I will glue from the finish instead of glueing over the finish. After the finish has cured, I will install the trim. I will let the corner arch details “float” behind the smaller trim that will be attached to the larger frame. I am hoping that there won’t be too much movement from the panel, it is MDF with a veneer on both faces.

I wish that I have thought of your suggestion Kjuly, of installing the panel afterwards with trim on the backside. That will give me something to think about the next time I do a project like this.

Thanks again and I will keep running this through my mind. I am not quite to the finishing stage but it will be coming soon enough.

-- Hand Crafted by Brett Peterson John 3:16

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