Stain and finish question

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MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
I am building a couple of small drawer units to go in our pantry. The cases are 3/4" oak plywood. Face frames and drawer fronts are 3/4" solid oak. The drawer boxes are 1/2" Lowes blondwood plywood. The cases, face frames and drawer fronts will be stained with Minwax golden oak to match the oak floors, topped with Minwax Polycrylic satin.

The question is, do you stain the inside of the cabinets? They will not be seen unless the drawers are removed. What about the drawer boxes?

And what about the finish? Do you apply finish to the inside of the cabinet and/or drawer boxes to seal the wood? Not sure how necessary this is on plywood.

I have always stained all surfaces of my projects except for things like the bottom or back of a bookcase or the back side of cabinets, etc. I do apply finish to all surfaces to seal the wood against moisture as much as possible. Just wondering if this is a waste of time and materials.
 

Bill Clemmons

Bill
Corporate Member
Mark, I would say that staining the drawer boxes, and other parts that are not normally seen, is a matter of personal preference. I usually don't stain those parts. But I do apply a clear finish to all parts. For drawers, shellac is a good choice. Dries fast, and is fairly durable.

Bill
 

Joe Scharle

New User
Joe
Like Bill said, stain what's normally in view and spray shellac on what's not, is my process.
I'd stain AND finish the drawer fronts before attaching the drawer boxes. And I steel wool the drawer boxes (except the front; helps the drawer fronts from sliding while trying to attach them ) to make them smooth and snag free.
 

Bas

Recovering tool addict
Bas
Corporate Member
I would definitely put some sort of finish on the inside, to avoid uneven moisture absorption. As for staining - if it's not visible, it's not necessary. It's more work and money, so why bother? If it's an area that might get minimal exposure (e.g. the front 3" that could be visible when opening the drawer, a quick wipe with the stain rag is sufficient for it to not look "out of place".
With the cost of shellac going up, my go-to finish for non-visible cabinet parts is Minwax polycrylic.
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
Thanks guys.

I will stain just the visible parts, including the back side of the drawer fronts, and seal everything with the Minwax Polycrylic. I don't have enough experience using shellac. If I did use shellac, it would have to be brushed on, I don't have spray equipment. I have used shellac from a rattle can, but that can get real expensive real quick, and my results were not that great.
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
Thanks guys.

I will stain just the visible parts, including the back side of the drawer fronts, and seal everything with the Minwax Polycrylic. I don't have enough experience using shellac. If I did use shellac, it would have to be brushed on, I don't have spray equipment. I have used shellac from a rattle can, but that can get real expensive real quick, and my results were not that great.

+1 on good advice from other members. You can do shellac without brushing (don't even try it) or spraying. Just dilute it to about a 1 lb. cut with alcohol and wipe it on LIBERALLY, but not sloppy with a lint free rag (old t-shirts work well) on the inside parts of your cabinet and drawers. You have to work fast and don't be tempted to overwipe it.
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
How many coats of shellac are needed to seal the inside of a cabinet? How about the insides of drawers? How long do you wait between coats?

Can multiple coats of shellac be applied without sanding between coats? That is my biggest problem with Minwax Polycrilic. Having to sand between coats more than doubles the time it takes to apply each coat. The upside is Polycrilic is tough as nails once it cures. How durable is a shellac finish?
 

Joe Scharle

New User
Joe
How many coats of shellac are needed to seal the inside of a cabinet? How about the insides of drawers? How long do you wait between coats?
Mark, I spray (rattle can) one coat. After the drawers dry (hour or so) I rub out the insides and outsides of the drawers with 4/0 steel wool just to smooth them out and not snag nylon. Inside of the carcase, I just leave alone except any area that will get contact.

Can multiple coats of shellac be applied without sanding between coats? That is my biggest problem with Minwax Polycrilic. Having to sand between coats more than doubles the time it takes to apply each coat. The upside is Polycrilic is tough as nails once it cures. How durable is a shellac finish?
Yes, new shellac will melt the top of recently applied shellac enough to bond. But I always knock down the first coat. BTW, I use wiping varnish (either my mix or canned) so I don't have to sand between coats. Gotta do it after the surface dries, but before the film sets. You should have enough scrap to test this for yourself.
1
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
+1 on good advice from other members. You can do shellac without brushing (don't even try it) or spraying. Just dilute it to about a 1 lb. cut with alcohol and wipe it on LIBERALLY, but not sloppy with a lint free rag (old t-shirts work well) on the inside parts of your cabinet and drawers. You have to work fast and don't be tempted to overwipe it.

What is the difficulty with brushing on shellac?
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
Originally Posted by MarkE
How many coats of shellac are needed to seal the inside of a cabinet? How about the insides of drawers? How long do you wait between coats?
Mark, I spray (rattle can) one coat. After the drawers dry (hour or so) I rub out the insides and outsides of the drawers with 4/0 steel wool just to smooth them out and not snag nylon. Inside of the carcase, I just leave alone except any area that will get contact.

Can multiple coats of shellac be applied without sanding between coats? That is my biggest problem with Minwax Polycrilic. Having to sand between coats more than doubles the time it takes to apply each coat. The upside is Polycrilic is tough as nails once it cures. How durable is a shellac finish?
Yes, new shellac will melt the top of recently applied shellac enough to bond. But I always knock down the first coat. BTW, I use wiping varnish (either my mix or canned) so I don't have to sand between coats. Gotta do it after the surface dries, but before the film sets. You should have enough scrap to test this for yourself.

I do have plenty of scrap to experiment on. :embarrassed:

I have used Formbys wiping varnish and also the Minwax Wipe-On varnish. Are you saying that you can apply multiple coats of these products without having to sand between coats? How long to you generally wait between coats? The Minwax Wipe-On can be re-coated in about 2-3 hours (after sanding). I'm guessing a second(third) coat can be applied if I wait less time between coats?
 

MarkE

Mark
Corporate Member
Well I had some free time this afternoon so I decided to try some things.

I had about 1/4 can of Zinsser spray shellac in the cabinet so I sprayed the insides of both cabinets. Very fast and easy. Not enough left in the can for the drawers.

I also had an unopened quart of Zinsser sanding sealer. I figured I could experiment on the bottom of the drawers without screwing anything up too bad. :wsmile:

I read that this is a 2lb cut shellac, so I thinned it 1 to 1 with DNA and brushed it on. It went on nice and easy. It raised the grain, but I can knock that down with a quick once over with a 320 sanding sponge. No drips, no runs, no brush marks. It look good on the drawer bottoms, so I finished all sides of all the drawers. If one coat is all I need, these drawers are ready to be mounted.

Thanks guys. :icon_thum
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
What is the difficulty with brushing on shellac?

You're learning as you experiment. The alcohol in the shellac evaporates pretty quickly so it can be problematic with overlapping brush strokes. Most shellac is a 2-3 lb. cut out of the can, however diluting it to about a 1 lb. cut makes it a lot more forgiving when you're brushing it on because it flows more freely and evenly.

Congratulations! Don't be afraid to experiment with your techniques on the inside of the frame/carcase, etc. It's mostly hidden so your imperfections are known only to you. :icon_cheers

+1 to Joe's recommendation to use a wiping varnish on the exterior. No sanding in between coats, etc. I'm beginning to think that "poly" is just an acronym for a PITA!
Try Waterlox "Original Sealer/Finish" and I believe that you'll like it. It's easily repaired and refinished if needed (it's good on floors and counter tops).

http://www.waterlox.com/
 
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