Glue up, then stain etc. or visa versa?

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AlexSwansboro

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Alex
I am building a sideless end table from the designs in wood magazine. I am using cherry for the case and maple for the top. The question is, what is the proper procedure for finishing. I am using M&T joints. My concern is the corners. If I glue up first, I worry that I will get a blob of finish in the corners, and won't be able to sand out all of the squeeze out.. If I finish first then I might get glue on my finish. Anyway, what would you do?

Also, how would you finish cherry and maple to get a satin looking finish? I want to make the grain come out so plan on using some kind of oil. Am I on the right track? If so, what kind of oil should I use?
 

timf67

New User
Tim
I stain and finish first, then glue up. cover your glue joints with masking tape so that you get a good bond when you glue up. I use BLO (boiled linseed oil) to bring out the grain.
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
I stain and finish first, then glue up. cover your glue joints with masking tape so that you get a good bond when you glue up. I use BLO (boiled linseed oil) to bring out the grain

+1 it's usually much easier to finish a bunch of flat pieces than the nooks and crannies of a whole piece. depends on your topcoat, but glue does not adhere very well to a finish (shellac, poly, wax, etc.) but glue squeeze out that you failed to clean up can definitely cause problems with stain penetration. That said, clamp marks/ depressions can be a real problem in a finished piece so you need to take extra precautions there. Also, all joints and edges and what not will need to be plumb, straight, square, etc prior to the finishing as there's no going back (well not w/o some tears) if you finish prior to glue up. I do both, it just depends on the particular piece, the finish being applied and what I feel most comfortable with.


Sam
 

terry1166

New User
Terry
Totally agree with others that it is easier to finish and then assemble. Just make sure to do a thorough dry fit prior to finishing and protect all surfaces that are to be glued with blue painters tape. If you're looking for a nice finish for the cherry, I often use boiled linseed oil thinned 50% (one coat rubbed on and the excess removed) to pop the grain. I let this application dry for several days then pad on 1 lb cuts of super blonde shellac that I make from flakes. After 3 to 5 rubbed on coats of shellac, I apply a good paste wax with a 0000 steel wool pad and buff to a soft shine.

Terry
 

AlexSwansboro

New User
Alex
Totally agree with others that it is easier to finish and then assemble. Just make sure to do a thorough dry fit prior to finishing and protect all surfaces that are to be glued with blue painters tape. If you're looking for a nice finish for the cherry, I often use boiled linseed oil thinned 50% (one coat rubbed on and the excess removed) to pop the grain. I let this application dry for several days then pad on 1 lb cuts of super blonde shellac that I make from flakes. After 3 to 5 rubbed on coats of shellac, I apply a good paste wax with a 0000 steel wool pad and buff to a soft shine.

Terry

What do you cut the BLO with? Mineral spirits? What is a 1lb cut mean? I am not sure about making my own shellac, so is this something I can buy/buy then cut down from a store?
 

terry1166

New User
Terry
What do you cut the BLO with? Mineral spirits? What is a 1lb cut mean? I am not sure about making my own shellac, so is this something I can buy/buy then cut down from a store?

A one pound cut of shellac is made from 1lb of shellac flakes dissolved in one gallon of denatured
alcohol. Of course you rarely would need a whole gallon of shellac so the ratio of shellac flakes to alcohol remains the same as you decrease the amount of alcohol used. In other words, to make 1/2 gallon of of a 1lb cut you would use a half pound of shellac flakes dissolved in a half gallon of alcohol and so on. The volume of shellac flakes is a weight measurement so you need something that will weigh small quantities. I use a small scale that was used to weigh food portions.

You can buy premixed shellac but as far as I know, it's only be readily available in "clear" and "amber" colors (at least at the borgs).The premixed variety is normally a 2 lb cut (thicker than a 1lb cut) as it comes from the can and the premixed shellac normally contains a wax ingredient except for Zinsers "Seal Coat" that is de-waxed. Of course you can reduce to 2lb cut to a 1lb cut by thinning with alcohol. I determine the weight of flakes I need to make the amount of shellac I want, weigh out the right amount then use an old coffee grinder to reduce the flakes to a powder. This allows the flakes to dissolve faster in the alcohol. I then measure the proper amount of alcohol into a jar and stir in the shellac. I'm sure you can go online and get info on mixing your own shellac and the advantages of doing so.

Shellac flakes of many colors and types can be purchased on-line from a lot of sources and are also available from Klingspor and Woodcraft. Since shellac has a limited shelf life, if you mix your own, you need to only mix what is required for the particular project you're working on. The dry flakes will last almost indefinitely if kept in a cool, dry environment.

I use simple mineral spirits to thin the boiled linseed oil. Apply the thinned BLO with a clean cloth, let in soak in for a few minutes, then thoroughly wipe off all the excess with a clean cloth. Be sure that the oil is totally dry before applying any finish. I normally allow a few days but some online say you can finish with shellac or apply a vinyl sealer if you are doing a lacquer finish in as little as 24 to 48 hrs. I try to stay on the safe side and usually allow at least 3 days.

I would also suggest that you allow time for others in our group to reply to your thread. Most of the members here have far more finishing experience than I and may have some suggestions about a finish technique that you might like better or is simply superior to my suggestion.

Good luck with your project.

Terry
 

AlexSwansboro

New User
Alex
A one pound cut of shellac is made from 1lb of shellac flakes dissolved in one gallon of denatured
alcohol. Of course you rarely would need a whole gallon of shellac so the ratio of shellac flakes to alcohol remains the same as you decrease the amount of alcohol used. In other words, to make 1/2 gallon of of a 1lb cut you would use a half pound of shellac flakes dissolved in a half gallon of alcohol and so on. The volume of shellac flakes is a weight measurement so you need something that will weigh small quantities. I use a small scale that was used to weigh food portions.

You can buy premixed shellac but as far as I know, it's only be readily available in "clear" and "amber" colors (at least at the borgs).The premixed variety is normally a 2 lb cut (thicker than a 1lb cut) as it comes from the can and the premixed shellac normally contains a wax ingredient except for Zinsers "Seal Coat" that is de-waxed. Of course you can reduce to 2lb cut to a 1lb cut by thinning with alcohol. I determine the weight of flakes I need to make the amount of shellac I want, weigh out the right amount then use an old coffee grinder to reduce the flakes to a powder. This allows the flakes to dissolve faster in the alcohol. I then measure the proper amount of alcohol into a jar and stir in the shellac. I'm sure you can go online and get info on mixing your own shellac and the advantages of doing so.

Shellac flakes of many colors and types can be purchased on-line from a lot of sources and are also available from Klingspor and Woodcraft. Since shellac has a limited shelf life, if you mix your own, you need to only mix what is required for the particular project you're working on. The dry flakes will last almost indefinitely if kept in a cool, dry environment.

I use simple mineral spirits to thin the boiled linseed oil. Apply the thinned BLO with a clean cloth, let in soak in for a few minutes, then thoroughly wipe off all the excess with a clean cloth. Be sure that the oil is totally dry before applying any finish. I normally allow a few days but some online say you can finish with shellac or apply a vinyl sealer if you are doing a lacquer finish in as little as 24 to 48 hrs. I try to stay on the safe side and usually allow at least 3 days.

I would also suggest that you allow time for others in our group to reply to your thread. Most of the members here have far more finishing experience than I and may have some suggestions about a finish technique that you might like better or is simply superior to my suggestion.

Good luck with your project.

Terry

That is very helpful. I do not plan on doing any finishing for a few weeks, but just want to know which direction to go in. I do want other to contribute to this thread and provide their own insight.
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
+1 on the blo and cherry. BLO will darken the maple to an amber tone though, so test it out and make sure it's the look you're after. If not, you could skip the blo on the maple and go straight to blonde shellac (dewaxed of course). mixing your own shellac is much better than the premixed stuff which usually has wax in it and is not hard to do (nor does it have to be very precise). Note as terry mentioned, the zinsser seal coat from the borg is dewaxed.

2 things about shellac:
1) it takes a bit of practice to pad it on, so practice first and use light cuts like terry suggested (1lb) and pad it on light, which takes more coats but is easier to do.
2) dna (denatured alcohol) is fine for the solvent but note that it contains 50-70% methanol and dries fast. Alternatively you can get everclear from the abc liquor store (special order? search the ncww for a recent thread about dna) or use Behlen's Bekhol which is mostly ethanol, which dries a little slower (by maybe a couple of minutes).

wiping varnish like (gloss only) polyurethane thinned 50/50 with mineral spirits is alternative as a topcoat although it will also impart an amber tone. it's a bit easier to apply than the shellac.

Sam
 
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